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Splane, Verna Huffman
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Dates of existence
Verna Huffman Splane was born in 1914 in Peterborough, Ontario. She became a nurse after high school. In 1939 received a diploma in Public Health from the University of Toronto School of Nursing and worked from the Victorian Order of Nurses until she entered Columbia University, where she graduated with a Bachelor in Science in 1957 and then went on to earn a master's degree in public health from the University of Michigan. After she graduated, she worked for the World Health Organization as a nurse advisory in the health ministries of Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and the Windward and Leeward Islands. Upon her return to Canada, she joined the federal Department of National Health and Welfare as a public health nursing consultant from 1963-1966. However, she returned to the WHO to work on a national health planning project in Libya in 1966. In 1967 she once again returned to Canada, becoming Canada's first Chief Nursing Officer, a position that she held until 1972. After her marriage to Richard Splane in 1971, the couple moved to Vancouver in 1973, where Verna joined the UBC School of Nursing from 1975 to 1984. In 1985 she joined the University of Victoria School of Nursing faculty until 1991. She was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was granted the Queen's Silver and Golden Jubilee medals (1977 and 2002). In addition, she held several honorary degrees. She won awards such as the Jeanne Mance Award and the Lillian Carter Centre for International Nursing Award from Emory University. She died in January 2015.
Verna and Richard were married in 1971 following the death of Richard's first wife, Marion. After their move to Vancouver, they were active members of the University Hill congregation of the United Church of Canada. They undertook a study on Chief Nursing Officer positions around the globe, resulting in the 1994 publication Chief Nursing Officers in National Ministries of Health: Focal Points for Nursing Leadership. In 1996, they were awarded UBC's first ever-joint honorary degree.