In early August, Boise State School of Nursing alumna Nancy Chaney (BS, nursing, ’77) was awarded honorary diplomate status by the American Veterinary Epidemiology Society (AVES) in recognition of her years of work to improve the lives of people and animals through the science-based principles of the One Health movement.
The awards ceremony was planned as part of the annual conference of the American Veterinary Medical Association in San Diego, but due to the pandemic, awards were presented in a virtual ceremony instead.
In addition to her credential as a registered nurse, Chaney holds a master’s degree in environmental science, and owns a veterinary specialty business in Moscow with her veterinarian husband.
Her nomination came from Bruce Kaplan, a prominent leader in One Health, which is described by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention as “a collaborative, multi-sectoral, and transdisciplinary approach… with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.”
Chaney is a vocal advocate for policies that improve human, animal and environmental health, and enabling collaboration among experts in related disciplines. She has served on the international One Health Advisory Board for a decade, as well as serving two terms as mayor of Moscow, one as president of the Association of Idaho Cities, and two on the board of directors for the National League of Cities.
Chaney feels her past work as a nurse on the neurosurgical unit at St. Alphonsus informed her approach to leadership and policy-making by preparing her to help members of the public under high-stress situations.
“I remember being in city council meetings, someone would come in flustered or angry,” she said, “I would recall my time working with patients who were fearful of losing something important to them, including their livelihoods, capacity to care for their families, or even their lives.”
She views nurses as trained to be careful listeners and observers, looking for ways that “smaller pieces connect to the whole,” and that awareness has served her well in providing guidance on public health and environmental policy.
Chaney is proud to combine her nursing and environmental science education and experience to improve community health outcomes. When describing her role on the advisory board for the One Health Initiative, she said, “One Health is an international group of physicians, veterinarians, and environmental scientists. Within that, I’m a networker; I help identify shared interests, so that we can connect experts and resources, and broaden our impacts.”
Chaney is an active member of Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE). She served as the mentor for the 2019-20 cohort of ANHE nurse fellows in EPA Region 10.
“Nurses today are increasingly outspoken about the adverse effects of pollutants, climate change, and environmental injustice on human health,” she said. “I love that nursing is now in the midst of it. We speak for ourselves and our communities; we’re out there advocating on the front lines.”
She believes that the recent pandemic reinforces the need for medical experts to work together in a more integrated and holistic manner to address human, animal and environmental health. After years of working in leadership and policy, she recently reactivated her nursing license to volunteer for Idaho’s Medical Reserve Corps as part of pandemic relief efforts.
– By Angela Fairbanks