Nicole attained her BN (1991) from University of New Brunswick (UNB), Master’s (1994) and PhD (1998) degrees in Nursing from University of Alberta (U of A), focusing on pediatrics and community health. She completed post-doctoral training with Dr. Miriam Stewart at U of A and Dr. Doug Willms at Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy, focusing on social support in vulnerable childbearing families (1999-2003; Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Alberta Heritage Fund for Medical Research funding).
Nicole was appointed Assistant Professor at U of A (1999), then she moved to UNB and was appointed Associate Professor (2003), all in Faculties of Nursing. She became Canada Research Chair in Healthy Child Development, attained tenure and was promoted to Full Professor (2007). She relocated to University of Calgary (U of C) to assume the Alberta Children’s Foundation Chair in Parent-Infant Mental Health (2011 – 2021). Currently, she holds the Chair in Parent and Child Mental Health. Primarily appointed in U of C Faculty of Nursing, additional appointments are in Cumming School of Medicine in Depts. of Pediatrics, Psychiatry & Community Health Sciences. She has a history of extensive service/volunteerism, for example in regional (Discovery House Board), provincial (College of Registered Nurses of Alberta – CRNA), national (CIHR Governing Council; Canadian Academy of Health Sciences) and international (International Family Nursing Foundation; Society for Emotional and Attachment Studies) venues. She is currently Chair of the CRNA and has just become a certified corporate director by Governance Solutions International.
Nicole is the Principal Investigator of the CHILD (Child Health Intervention and Longitudinal Development) Studies Program examining parenting, attachment and child development in the context of maternal depression, family violence, low income and other risks. She is the Director of RESOLVE (Research & Education for Solutions to Violence). Her research is consistently community-based to guide best practice in parent-child support and intervention.
Of the 10 studies she currently leads, key projects include:
- APrON (Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition) cohort study of 2200 Alberta families, examining parental mental health influences on infants/children. Recent studies include the influence of mothers’ adverse childhood experiences and perinatal mental health on epigenetic expression of their three-month old infants, both explorations of intergenerational trauma mechanisms.
- ATTACH (Attachment and Child Health) study, funded by CIHR and Harvard Center on the Developing Child to test an innovative intervention to promote reflective function of high-risk mothers in order to promote secure maternal-infant attachment and child development.
- VID-KIDS (Video Feedback Intervention for Depressed Mothers and Infants), funded by CIHR and others, is a nurse-delivered intervention for mothers with postpartum depression to support healthy maternal-child relationships and child development.
- Alliance against Violence and Adversity (AVA) Health Research Training Platform funded by CIHR to o create capacity to transform population (community) health and social services to promote health and wellness of girls and women at risk/affected by violence and adversity over the life-cycle, via a collaborative, innovative, cross-sectoral/disciplinary/jurisdictional training platform.
Nicole regularly receives honours including:
- International Society for Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses – Research Merit Award
- Jeanne Mance Award from Canadian Nurses Association (2020)
- Induction into American Academy of Nursing (2020)
- Award for Excellence in Leadership from the Canadian Association of Perinatal and Women’s Health Nursing (2019)
- National Recipient of Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Difference Maker Award (2017)
- Excellence in Research Award from Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (2017)
- Inspiration Award (Ministry of Human Services, Province of Alberta (2016)
- Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing Research Award (2017)
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – Difference Maker Award (2017)
- College and Association of RNs of Alberta (2015)
- Fellow of Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (2014)
- Excellence in Research Awards from New Brunswick Nurses Association (2011)
- Canada’s Top 40 Under 40TM (2007)
- CIHR’s Canada’s Premier Young Researcher (2006)
Skills & Teaching
Since 1996 Dr. Letourneau has been a Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training (NCAST) instructor, trained by Dr. Kathryn Barnard, PhD, RN, Georgina Sumner, MScN, RN and Anita Spietz, MScN, RN at the NCAST Institute, now called the Parent-Child Relationships Program Barnard Center at University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Letourneau has trained hundreds of nurses, physicians, social workers, mental health professionals, researchers and lay people from across Canada.
Nicole has attained $70+ million in research funding, with $25+ million as lead or co-lead investigator. She has ~30K Twitter followers (@DrNLetourneau), 220+ peer-reviewed papers (click here to see list of papers), 14+ book chapters, 100+ opinion editorials in print and online Canadian news outlets, and authored;