May 6, 2019

Professor emeritus and international speaker committed to advancing knowledge of family nursing

50 Faces of Nursing: Lorraine Wright, UCalgary Professor Emerita

While Dr. Lorraine Wright (RN, PhD) extends her nursing vocation as an international speaker and author, she is revered at UCalgary and in wider nursing circles for her expertise in the area of family nursing, especially her creation of the Family Nursing Unit (FNU) in the early 1980s.

According to a colleague, the FNU at UCalgary’s Faculty of Nursing led to the development of an advanced nursing practice model and the graduate nursing specialization called Family Systems Nursing.

Wright has written or co-written 11 books, including the highly popular Nurses and Families: A Guide to Family Assessment and Intervention, as well as 21 book chapters and more than 60 publications. In 1988, she established and hosted the first International Family Nursing Conference, which evolved into the International Family Nursing Association. She was honoured with a Professor Emerita of Nursing from UCalgary in 2002.

What motivates your work and research?

A professional benefit of being in my mid-70s is that I now have 45 years of family nursing clinical practice and research experience combined with teaching lectures or workshops and keynotes in some 20-plus countries.

“I have also had the privilege of interviewing families in several countries to learn more about family illness across different cultures, health and healing beliefs and practices, and which family nursing interventions are most useful. I am committed to continue learning the knowledge and skills to soften illness suffering in families and promote family healing.

What’s an unforgettable experience from your time at UCalgary Nursing?

“Careers are often based on doors that open and change your trajectory forever. The late dean Margaret Scott Wright  opened that door for me by recruiting me from the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry to the Faculty of Nursing. She invited me to participate in the development of a master’s degree with a strong family focus.

“In turn, I offered the idea of having a faculty practice unit where families who are suffering with serious illness could be seen by graduate students and supervised by faculty in the development of their family systems nursing skills. Dr. Scott Wright facilitated and supported this idea that became the Family Nursing Unit, which enabled me to advance family nursing knowledge and skills locally, nationally and internationally. I am forever grateful to Dr. Scott Wright for her support, encouragement and for opening the door all those years ago.”

Is there a nursing issue you are especially passionate about or would like to change?

If every nurse embraced the notion that illness is a family affair, it would change the face of nursing practice.”

“Illness impacts families and families influence the course of illness, and therefore, families need to be included in all domains of nursing practice.”

What most excites you about the future of nursing or changes coming in the profession?

“Nursing is expanding its reach globally in all domains of health care, and our voices are more valued and respected.”

Your advice for aspiring nurses?

To remember that you are healers in the encounter of illness suffering in a most honourable profession. Your words and actions are remembered long after the care that you provide.”

All through 2019, we'll be highlighting 50 Faces of Nursing and profiling nursing members in celebration of our 50th anniversary. If you know someone noteworthy (faculty, staff, alum, students, partners, etc.) who you would like us to feature, tell us more with this short online form. For more, visit

Lorraine Wright UCalgary Professor Emerita

Lorraine Wright UCalgary Professor Emerita