File of Uncertainties: Part Two

In 2020 we initiated part one of the File of Uncertainties project. Student researcher Tamarah Braithwaite (funded by the Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award [JCURA]) and the UVic instructor team of Leanne Kelly and Christina Chakanyuka (funded by BCcampus) developed a project to explore the experiences of student nurses in their clinical practice as they navigated complex racialized situations with Indigenous clients.

Post by Christina Chakanyuka, Leanne Poitras Kelly, and Tamarah Braithwaite

In December 2020 we completed the first survey and presented results in a poster presentation at the JCURA online conference.

We decided to repeat the survey with a new cohort of students for the 2021-2022 year. Using the financial support of the BCcampus Research Fellowship, we hired a fourth-year nursing student, Emma Alvernaz, to join the team and were able to provide a stipend to assist with her tuition expenses.  

In September 2021 we administered the survey anonymously through Survey Monkey with the help of an administrative support person, Arie Ross, also hired with the support of the BCcampus Research Fellowship. Survey questions included:

  1. What knowledge, skills, awareness, or personal positionality guided or supported your thought process and ongoing engagement? What did you draw on from your 484 course to help make sense of the situation?
  2. What questions, tensions, or uncertainties created challenges or “grey zones” for you in your clinical approach? What do you remain uncertain about?
  3. Think of a situation that occurred during your CPE in which you felt there was racialized tension occurring in your clinical setting. This could be something that occurred within you, between care providers and clients, or within other staff circles. (Examples could include an actual altercation, a racialized comment or exchange, a look or vibe, disclosure from a client, observed micro-aggression, or assumptions made regarding a patient’s situation). Describe the situation and your thoughts and questions about how racialized tensions arise generally and any specific insights you have to understand the specific situation you are thinking about.

In December 2021 Arie collated and cleaned all responses to remove identifying information, and we received this data for analysis. Coding and thematic analysis are currently ongoing, but initial themes include knowledge/ignorance, racial tension, systems power, professional power, fear of discomfort, rear of re-traumatization, personal bias, and knowing when to act. The complexity of situations encountered by the undergraduate students who completed the survey demonstrated the need for continued support in preparing undergraduate nurses and to disrupt systemic issues that perpetuate inequities. 

We will continue our analysis in the coming months, but the project has been a valuable tool for instructors to understand how to position their teaching efforts. It has also been a valuable mentorship for Emma and Arie in terms of research process. The following contribution is from Emma and illustrates some of her experience with the project.

“I have already learned so much from taking part in part two of the File of Uncertainties research project. Truthfully, I did not know what to expect from this experience when I agreed to be a member of the research team. It has been invaluable to gain insight into the experiences of my peers, the process of course building and improvement, and the realities of racism and discrimination in the healthcare system—especially toward Indigenous clients. 

My role has consisted of promoting the online survey through social media, reading and interpreting data from the survey, and collaborating with the team to discuss data and processes. We were ecstatic to receive input from 28 students. The data has been rich, thought provoking, and diverse. In fact, the data has been so rich that we spent nearly three hours discussing a single question during our most recent meeting. As a student, I rarely have the opportunity to see feedback from my peers about course format, content, and application. It is very interesting to read about people’s personal experiences with the course and putting concepts into practice.  

I am excited to continue our data analysis, and I hope that this research project helps to improve nursing education and the nursing profession as a whole. Based on my experience, nursing students entering the profession are committed and passionate about improving healthcare for all patients, especially those who may be marginalized.” 

Overall, this project has been valuable in supporting new researchers to do qualitative research. It has also contributed to the exploration Indigenous-specific racism and the needs of undergraduate nursing students in disrupting inequities they experience in healthcare settings.

The research team of Leanne Kelly, Christina Chakanyuka, Tamarah Braithwaite, and Emma Alvernaz would like to acknowledge with gratitude the support of BCcampus in facilitating this important work. 

Read the Final Report [PDF]

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© 2022 Christina Chakanyuka, Leanne Poitras Kelly, and Tamarah Braithwaite released under a CC BY license

The featured image for this post (viewable in the BCcampus News section at the bottom of our homepage) is by Anete Lusina from Pexels