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New FHS Researcher: Meet Dr. Danielle Macdonald

New FHS Researcher: Meet Dr. Danielle Macdonald

Dr. Macdonald is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing 

Can you give me a quick summary of your research? 

My research looks at global birthing care, specifically collaboration and sustainable midwifery services. I’m interested in how midwives, nurses, and other health-care providers collaborate, and how collaboration may improve equitable access to midwifery care in Canada and beyond.  

In addition, I’m interested in respectful maternity care, so I look at the experiences of birthing people, the choices they make, and how birth experiences influence their lives. My approach to this research is influenced by midwifery values and practices, which are woman/birthing person-centred. I want to see how we can learn from, and collaborate with, midwives to improve local and global birthing care.  

What do you hope to learn from your research? 

The really exciting thing for me about this research is that I'm always learning about birthing care. My research in Nova Scotia showed that the midwives and nurses are actually working well together and that their collaboration is starting to shift the birthing cultures and change the way people are approaching perinatal care. I hope we learn more about how collaboration is working well so we can move away from siloed ways of working and towards more inclusive models of care, where everyone is included and supported. Ultimately, we all have a very similar goal, as health care providers, which is to see healthy new families thrive. 

Why is your research important to you? 

When we look across Canada, we can see that there are lots of women who want access to midwifery care. We know from the evidence that midwifery-led continuity models of care provide excellent outcomes, and my question is, why don't we have more access to that? My research is important because it seeks to explore this question and to understand how we can build collaborative, sustainable midwifery services and ensure that every family has an equitable opportunity to access midwifery care. 

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

I hope we can learn more from the ways different people are working together and see if we can create more synergies between midwives, nurses, physicians, and other care providers. Currently, there are many people who do not have access to midwifery services who would like access, and likewise there are health-care providers who are interested in working with midwives who have limited opportunities to collaborate. I hope we are able to create models of care that can really address some of the inequities we see in perinatal care, and improve experiences and outcomes for babies and families. Additionally, I hope these models can be person-centred so that everybody who is a part of that care team is recognized and acknowledged for their values, beliefs, and contributions. 

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I was always interested in babies, breastfeeding, new parents, and everything related to birth. When I was a teenager, I met a midwife in the community and learned about midwifery values and practices. Since that time, a midwifery perspective has always informed my passion for pregnancy, birthing, and the postpartum period. I knew I wanted to work with mothers and newborns, and there weren’t a lot of opportunities to become a midwife, so I became a nurse to fuel my passion for working with new parents and their babies during the perinatal period.

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