As Director of McGill’s School of Nursing from 1983-1992, Mary-Ellen Jeans had a profound influence on the growth and development of our School and of the nursing profession.

The Ingram School of Nursing mourns the passing of former director Mary-Ellen Jeans, CM, PhD.

After receiving her RN Diploma from Hamilton Civic Hospital, Mary-Ellen Jeans earned her BN and MSc from McGill University’s School of Nursing. She later received her PhD from the Department of Psychology at McGill.

A lifelong champion of the role of nursing within the health system, Jeans worked closely with internationally renowned pain expert Dr. Ronald Melzack and was appointed the administrative director of Canada’s first multidisciplinary pain clinic at the Montreal General Hospital when it opened in 1974.

From 1983-1992, Mary-Ellen Jeans served as Director of McGill’s School of Nursing, where she was instrumental in establishing one of Canada’s first PhD programs in nursing. As a strong advocate for interdisciplinary research, she attracted students interested in nursing research, enhancing the stauts of the School within the Faculty of Medicine and throughout Canada. During her tenure, as the second editor of Nursing Papers, she renamed the publication the Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, beginning its transformation into a research journal.

Mary-Ellen Jeans went on to serve a four-year term as the Director-General of the National Health Research and Development Program, and then steered the Canadian Nurses Association and the Academy of Canadian Executive Nurses, where she led the charge for greater investment in education and research at the federal level with the establishment of a 10-year, $25 million Nursing Research Fund. She later co-chaired the National Sector/Occupational Study of Nursing, the first major national study of the nursing workforce.

Throughout her career, Jeans wrote widely on health care and nursing policy, was a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and served as a consultant on health human resources and health policy for various health professional associations, governments, regulatory bodies, and academic institutions.

In recognition of her outstanding achievements as well as her efforts to create greater awareness of the nursing profession’s history as an integral part of Canada’s heritage, Jeans was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2010.

Mary-Ellen Jeans died on December 26, 2023, at the age of 80. A celebration of her life was held on January 19th at 1 p.m. at the Beechwood National Memorial Center in Ottawa. Condolences may be left here: Mary Ellen Jeans, C.M., Ph.D. | Beechwood (