Alumna’s accomplishments in caring profession lead her to lend a hand to nursing students

Dr. Darlene Pollock has created an endowed scholarship to support nursing students, like Becky Riekman, at her alma mater.

Dr. Darlene Pollock has created an endowed scholarship to support nursing students like Becky Riekman at her alma mater.

Dr. Darlene (Darl) Pollock Forrest’s rich career in nursing began in 1954 when she entered the University of Saskatchewan’s Nursing Diploma program at the School of Nursing (now the College of Nursing).  One of eight children, Darl grew up in a close-knit family on a farm near the small town of Abbey, SK.   Her older twin sisters were both nurses and were her inspiration in her career choice.  Following graduation she started working at the University Hospital and then was lured to California where her sisters had settled.  There she enjoyed further professional development with exceptional mentors and a lifestyle that provided lasting friendships and strong family ties.

Ten years later Darl returned to Canada when she married her husband Bob — who she had known since grade seven — an engineering teacher at the University of Alberta. Darl continued her nursing career and educational pursuits earning a Master’s and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the University of Alberta (U of A). During this time she joined the Faculty of Nursing at the U of A and enjoyed a long and gratifying career, retiring as Professor Emeritus.  Her teaching, research and service all focused on caring communication in nursing, and she presented her research at conferences both nationally and internationally. Darl was considered by her colleagues to be a sound scholar, a gifted educator and respected researcher who made a significant contribution to her profession.

Darl’s passionate focus on caring led her to create a student award at the University of Saskatchewan — the Dr. Darlene Pollock Forrest Award in Nursing.  The generous endowment of $165,000 provides an annual award of approximately $5,000 to a 4th year nursing student who exemplifies excellence in combining the art of compassionate care with the mindful application of nursing theory and knowledge. In the establishment of this award Darl hopes to emphasize to faculty and students the fundamental need for the practice of both the art and science of nursing care.

She said, “With this award I honor my parents and the value system they lived and imparted to me.  I feel fortunate to have been born and raised by caring, sensible parents who valued education.  It also represents a thank you at large to the Saskatchewan I knew growing up and in which I thrived. My thanks and gratitude for a solid educational system, an exceptional health care system, and to the U of S School of Nursing who provided an excellent program which was the foundation upon which I built a very successful professional career. I have been forever grateful for such a sound beginning.”

When asked what she was most proud of, Darl said, “I am proud of the tangible accomplishments but what has given me the most satisfaction is the gratefulness I feel for my family, my husband Bob, exceptional mentors, and a rich collection of friends, colleagues, students and patients who have been instrumental in my development through all these years. Their influence is lasting.”

Fourth year nursing student Becky Riekman was one of two recipients of the Dr. Darlene Pollock Forrest Award in Nursing in 2014. “Receiving a scholarship in my final year of nursing studies has meant so much to me,” said Riekman. “I’ve been putting myself through school, working part-time during term and full-time during summer. During my final practicum, I was unable to work the same hours I usually did. With Dr. Forrest’s generous gift, I was able to focus on developing my practice with financial peace of mind. I will never forget her generosity.”

By Anna Pacik