David Kenneth Wright, Academic Lead

David is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing, University of Ottawa. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in biomedical ethics at McGill University, and currently works clinically at a freestanding palliative care residence in Montreal. His research seeks to understand, typically from the standpoint of nurses, how values at stake are realized or thwarted in contemporary contexts of end-of-life care.

Christine McPherson, Academic Mentor

Christine McPherson is a Health Psychologist and Registered Nurse who acquired her Ph.D. from the Institute of Palliative Care and Policy at King’s College, London (UK). She is an Associate professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Ottawa, where she teaches research and palliative care at the graduate level in the MSc.N and PhD program. Her research interests include family caregiving, symptom assessment and management, and psychosocial issues in the context of advanced disease, where she is currently involved in several research projects. Her research has included systematic reviews in communication, provision of palliative care and psychosocial interventions for the National Health Service (NHS) Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York (UK), in addition to the development of nursing guidelines in end-of-life care for the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO).

Brandi Vanderspank-Wright, Academic Mentor

Brandi is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing, University of Ottawa. Her program of research focuses on good end of life care for patients and families in intensive care units, informed by evidence, nursing competencies and historical perspectives. Her research incorporates qualitative research methodology to understand nursing practice at the point of care as well as social history. She holds specialty certification in adult critical care from the Canadian Nurses Association. She has worked clinically in adult ICU as well as residential hospice. Click here to learn more about Dr. Brandi Vanderspank-Wright.

Kim McMillan, Academic Mentor

Kim McMillan is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing, University of Ottawa. Her program of research focuses on the intersect of organizational life and moral nursing practice. Her research explores key concepts that include: morally authentic nursing practice, nursing ethics, moral distress, moral habitat, institutional integrity, and corporatization. Her work is theoretically grounded in critical theory, critical management studies (a branch of critical theory), and feminism. Her research incorporates qualitative research methodology to understand nurses’ moral experiences working within contemporary health care organizations. She holds specialty certification in hospice and palliative care from the Canadian Nurses Association. She has worked clinically in pediatric oncology, bone marrow transplant, and nephrology, often within the context of palliation.  Click here to learn more about Dr. Kim McMillan.

Vasiliki Bitzas, Academic Mentor

Vasiliki is a senior nursing leader in palliative care. She is currently the Clinical Administrative Coordinator for Geriatrics and Palliative Care within the Integrated University Health and Social Services Center for the region of West Central Montreal, Quebec. For several years, she was head nurse and clinical administrator for palliative care at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. She has specific expertise in research ethics, serving as chair of a Biomedical Research Ethics Board in Quebec. As an academic, Vasiliki is an experienced qualitative health researcher, particularly in interpretive phenomenology. Her PhD research examined the lived experience of transitioning to a palliative care unit at the end of life. She currently mentors graduate nursing students in a variety of qualitative research designs. Vasiliki is also on the executive of Palliative Care McGill, which hosts the biennial International Congress on Palliative Care.

Valerie Fiset, Academic Mentor

Valerie started her nursing career in the Canadian Forces. After leaving the military, she pursued specialty and graduate education in oncology and palliative care, and practiced in staff nurse, management, and advanced practice nursing roles. Her PhD research investigated nursing students’ use of clinical guidelines for pain management in clinical practice. She was a Professor and Chair of Nursing studies at Algonquin College, and is now a full-time professor at St. Lawrence College Brockville. Her scholarship interests focus on how to best prepare nursing students for evidence-based practice, entry-level palliative care education, and increasing gerontologic competencies in undergraduate nursing students. 

Susan Brajtman, Academic mentor


Susan is a retired Associate Professor and current Adjunct Professor in the School of Nursing, University of Ottawa. She is a graduate of the Royal Victoria Hospital School of Nursing, McGill University, and De Montfort University in England. From 1984 till 2002 she lived in Israel, where her clinical experience involved community health nursing on a kibbutz, and clinical and administrative experience in palliative care as the Head Nurse of the Palliative Care Unit of Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. Her research interests include end-of-life delirium, education for health care professionals in end-of- life care, and interprofessional education and practice. She was the co-founder and former Co-Director of this research hub (formerly known as the Nursing Palliative Care Research and Education Unit of the University of Ottawa).