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new Queen's nursing faculty

Queen's Nursing and Health Quality 2021 Research Report

From research snapshots to current projects, learn about School of Nursing success stories in the Queen's Nursing and Health Quality 2021 Research Report.

In this excerpt from the report, meet some of Nursing's newest researchers:

Dr. Roger Pilon

Dr. Roger Pilon

Can you provide a brief summary of what your research is about?

My program of research focuses primarily on Indigenous health and, more specifically, the decolonization of type 2 diabetes care.  It is widely known that, for many generations, health care has been provided in large part by settlers (non-Indigenous individuals) using a primarily western approach which is often dismissive of Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing. A decolonized approach can promote reconciliation by ensuring that Indigenous Peoples are fully involved in their care and that their preferences are respected.  I have been collaborating with First Nation communities on the development of a culturally safe diabetes care strategy. Building on my interest in Indigenous health and my experience working alongside Indigenous communities, my role is to serve as a guide and resource for Indigenous communities and to contribute to the building of research capacity in these communities.

What problems are you looking to confront through your research?

Health profession students and providers have mostly received education that often fails to acknowledge or value Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing.  This has exacerbated health inequities and contributed to poorer health outcomes in Indigenous communities. Ultimately, my goal is to inform primary health care providers about the historical and ongoing legacies of colonization, and how this has an impact on the way that health care is currently delivered. I also think it is important to guide health providers as they learn more about Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing, and learn to integrate Indigenous and western ways of treating illness.

What kind of impact do you hope that your research will have?

Ultimately, I hope that the research I undertake with Indigenous communities and Peoples will have a positive influence on the way that Type 2 diabetes care is delivered. More specifically, my vision is that health care providers will enter the workforce better informed when it comes to the importance of cultural safety and humility, and that they will be more open to Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing. By doing so, health providers can minimize health care disparities and inequities, and Indigenous Peoples can benefit from culturally safe care and improved health.

What’s one thing that gets you really excited about your research field?

In the recent years I have observed an emergence of Indigenous Traditional practices. With emphasis now being placed on the importance of understanding colonization and the need for culturally safe care, we are beginning to witness an important and significant change in the way that health care is being delivered to Indigenous Peoples and communities. I have witnessed incredible resilience in Indigenous Peoples which has led the way for health care services to become truly more holistic through the integration of Indigenous and western ways of knowing, being, and doing.

Watch Dr. Pilon’s talk at the 2021 Gerri MacEwen Memorial Lecture: Decolonizing Diabetes: Promoting culturally safe & competent care.

Dr. Danielle Macdonald

Dr. Danielle MacDonald

Can you provide a brief summary of your what your research is about?

My research explores global experiences of people who provide or receive health care before, during, and after birth. Of particular interest are the experiences of nurses, midwives, women and birthing people, and families. Improving understandings of birthing experiences – collaboration and how people provide and receive perinatal care - can support strategies to address current gaps and challenges in care. The findings from my program of research will be used to support sustainable person-centred perinatal care. Person-centred birthing care ensures that all persons who have experiences of birth are supported to flourish – personally and professionally. I use critical qualitative methodologies and methods (feminist poststructuralism, discourse analysis) and JBI qualitative systematic review methodology, to explore people’s experiences of birthing care.

What problems are you looking to confront through your research?

Globally, midwifery, nursing, and perinatal care are facing significant challenges. Global shortages of midwives and nurses, slow uptake of innovative solutions for the delivery of birthing care services and sexism contribute to increased interventions, lack of choice, mistreatment, burn out, and unsustainable perinatal care delivery models. There are increasing reports of tokophobia (fear of childbirth), birth trauma, and experiences of disrespect and abuse for women and birthing people. At the same time, midwives, nurses, and other health care providers are working hard to provide birthing care with inadequate staffing, support, and funding in all corners of the world. All these factors influence the experiences of women and birthing people, and health care providers during birthing care. My research produces evidence that will support a reorientation of birthing care as a sustainable person-centred endeavour.

What’s one upcoming research project you’re really excited about starting?

I am really excited about a research project I am currently leading which is a synthesis of qualitative evidence to explore the experiences of birthing care during COVID-19. We are specifically looking at qualitative evidence about the experiences of midwives, nurses, women and birthing people. The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone, highlighting known inequities and sustainability challenges in the delivery of birthing care. We have a great deal to learn from the people who have experiences of birth during this time, to inform change that makes birthing care equitable and sustainable around the world.

Why is it so important that nurses or those with nursing backgrounds engage in health research?

We need nurses to lead, participate in, and use research in all the spaces and places they work – and beyond. There are more nurses in the global health care workforce than any other profession, and our critical mass can have a significant influence in decision-making, practice, and policies… but we need to show up! We need to use our voices, we need to offer critique about what doesn’t work, and we need to provide innovative solutions. We also need to work together, collectively, to improve health and well-being globally. Engaging in research is an excellent vehicle to strengthen our profession, build a critical mass for change, challenge the status quo, and solve ongoing challenges in the delivery of care for health and well-being.

Watch Dr. Macdonald's talk Sharing the Humanity of Birth.

Dr. Aleksandra Zuk

Dr. Aleksandra Zuk

Can you provide a brief summary of your what your research is about?

Broadly speaking my research goals are to address health inequities, examine access to care services, and to improve health outcomes related to chronic conditions across the lifespan in Canada. Within these themes, my current focus is on cardiometabolic and cardiovascular related health outcomes among vulnerable populations, such as women, youth, and Indigenous people.

What problems are you looking to confront through your research?

As part of this research, I aim to confront sex-and-gender differences related to women’s cardiometabolic health and the impact on access to health services of vulnerable and Indigenous populations. As an example, I am currently working in partnership with subarctic Indigenous communities to examine how health and wellness benefits of traditional Indigenous land-based activities (i.e., spending time-on-land) can affect type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiometabolic risk factors, particularly among Indigenous women. Another problem I seek to address within my program of research is inequitable access to care in rural and remote communities that relate to complications of cardiometabolic disease such as type 2 diabetes. This research will harness the potential of machine learning technologies to explore the use and applications in health systems in order to predict future health requirements and improve care.

Why do you feel your research is a community issue?

The key perspectives central to my research have arisen from specific community members I partner with as a researcher, which stems from community engagement that has taken time to establish. I believe an equal partnership is imperative in the research process that aims to address a timely community voiced problem, and one that finds resolutions to this community issue at hand that impacts people’s life and well-being.

What is your favourite thing to do in Kingston?

I’m familiar with Kingston since I did my Bachelors in Nursing at Queen’s, but I love re-exploring all of Kingston’s attractions through the eyes of my little one. The most recent was Kingston’s steam engine, oh, the joy of trains.

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