Dr. Karen MacKinnon

Dr. Karen MacKinnon
Associate Professor
School of Nursing
Office: HSD A420


Area of expertise

Childbearing experiences; health equity; Institutional Ethnography; JBI; perinatal nursing; nursing education; rural maternity care; social organization; systematic reviews

I currently teach in the graduate and undergraduate programs both on campus and online. Recent courses taught include:

  • NURS 360: Professional Growth IV: Research
  • NURS 425: Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis
  • NURS 496: Nursing with Childbearing Families
  • NURS 520: Nursing Disciplinary Knowledge and Advanced Practice Nursing
  • NURS 521: Advanced Practice Nursing and Professional Identity
  • NURA 516: Leadership for Advancing Nursing Practice
  • NURA 596: Nursing Scholarship: Integration & Dissemination
  • NURS 590: An introduction to Institutional Ethnography

I am currently the Co-Director of the UVic JBI Center of Excellence.

Educational background

  • Post-doctoral fellowship in rural maternity care research (completed 2006)
  • PhD Nursing, University of Calgary (completed 2005)
  • MN Parent Child Nursing, University of Toronto (completed 1984)
  • BScN Nursing, University of Toronto (completed 1981)
  • RN diploma, Selkirk College, Castlegar  (completed 1974)


Nov. 2008 Canadian Nurses Association Centennial Award


My current areas of research scholarship include:

  • women's health and childbearing with a focus on health promotion and risk literacy;

  • nurses' work and the social organization of nurses' work with a focus on rural and perinatal nursing;

  • mentorship, clinical leadership and clinical decision making (safeguarding work);

  • learning communities and narrative pedagogies with a focus on story-based learning.

I currently draw upon the following approaches to research:

  • institutional ethnography;

  • strength-focused, community based research;

  • interpretive inquiry;

  • narrative inquiry.

I am currently or have recently been involved in the following research projects (see project tab for more details).

  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Operating Grant: Opioid Crisis Knowledge Synthesis competition (Funding from April 2018 until September 2018, $60,0000).

  • Process evaluation of British Columbia Healthy Connections Project, Public Health Agency of Canada (Funding for January, 2014-January 2018, $866, 396).

  • Working to their full scope: Exploring changing work relationships between RNs and LPNs. University of Victoria, Internal Research Grant competition ($7000).

  • Interventions to promote health and health equity for pregnant and early parenting women facing substance use and other challenges. CIHR Population Health Intervention Grant funded ($117,224).

  • Building upon strengths: supporting community based research to prevent STIs in women and families living in North Vancouver Island communities. CIHR Catalyst Grant – HIV/AIDS Community Based Research ($32,970).

  • Educating and supporting clinical nurse specialists in BC. CIHR Meetings, Planning and Dissemination Grant: health services and policy research. ($19,041).

  • BCRRHRN Collaborative Team Building Award (BC Rural and Remote Health Research Network, $6000).


I believe that teaching is facilitating learning and that adults learn best in a supportive environment where they feel safe and respected for past learning, but are challenged to explore new ideas.

I also believe that the opportunity to critically reflect on our values, beliefs, assumptions and practices is important for learners in any practice discipline, including nursing. The goal of education then is to develop learners with a passion for questioning and knowledge seeking who are critical thinkers and lifelong learners. I also believe that online learning can promote reflective thinking, particularly at the graduate level.

About nursing education, I believe that opportunities to explore the historical, social and political context of nursing practice are important for understanding the complexities of the nursing profession today. I believe that nursing practice is a form of relational caring and that nurses need to be aware of the social, moral and political effects of our actions. I also believe that increased opportunities for inter-professional education are important for decreasing hierarchical practices and promoting more collaborative relationships with other health care providers.

Nursing is currently a highly regulated discipline and exploring the effects of the textual regulation of nursing practice is important for helping us develop a dynamic and ethical vision of nursing for the 21st century. I currently work with both graduate and undergraduate nursing students.


  • MacKinnon, K., Butcher, D., & Bruce, A. (2018). Working to full scope: The re-organization of nursing work in two Canadian community hospitals. Global Qualitative Nursing Research. 5:1-14. DOI link: https://doi.org/10.1177/2333393617753905

  • Butcher, D., MacKinnon, K. & Bruce A. (2018). Producing Flexible Nurses: How Institutional Texts Organize Nurses’ Experiences of Learning to Work on Redesigned Nursing Teams. Quality Advancement in Nursing Education, 4(1), Article 2. DOI: https://doi.org/10.17483/2368-6669.1132

  • MacKinnon, K., Marcellus, L., Rivers, J., Gordon, C., Ryan, M. & Butcher, D. (2017). Student and educator experiences of maternal-child simulation-based learning: a systematic review of qualitative evidence JBI Database of Systematic Reviews & Implementation Reports, 15(11), 2666-2706. DOI: 10.11124/JBISRIR-2016-003147

  • Butcher, D., MacKinnon, K., Bruce, A., Gordon, C., & Koning, C. (2017). The experiences of pre-licensure or pre-registration health professional students and their educators in working with intra-professional teams: a systematic review of qualitative evidence.  JBI Database of Systematic Reviews & Implementation Reports, 15(4). 1011-1056. DOI: 10.11124/JBISRIR-2016-003009.

  • Marcellus, L. & MacKinnon, K. (2016). Using an Informed Advocacy Framework to advance the practice of Family-Centered Care. Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing, 30(3), 240-242.

  • Caspar, S., Phiney, A., Ratner, P. MacKinnon, K. (2016). The influence of organizational systems on information exchange in LTC facilities. Qualitative Health Research, 26(7),951-965.

  • Butcher, D., MacKinnon, K., Bruce, A., Gordon, C., & Koning, C. (2015). The experiences of pre-licensure or pre-registration health professional students and their educators in working with intra-professional teams: a systematic review of qualitative evidence protocol. JBI Database of Systematic Reviews & Implementation Reports, 13(7) 119 – 130.


  • I am currently working with Christine Huel (PhD student, nursing) on an Institutional Ethnography (IE) investigating the social organization of women’s experiences of preventing childhood communicable diseases and vaccine hesitancy.

  • I am currently completing the JBI Train-the-trainer program for their Comprehensive Systematic Review Training (CSRT) program. We plan to offer CSRT in Victoria in 2019.

  • We are currently conducting a JBI Scoping Review entitled: Equity-oriented Frameworks to Inform Responses to Opioid Overdoses: A Scoping Review. This scoping review has been funded by CIHR in response to a call for Knowledge Synthesis proposals related to the opioid overdose crisis in Canada.       

  • I am currently the Co-Director of our JBI Affiliate group in the School of Nursing called the Centre for Evidence-informed Nursing and Health Care (CEiNHC).If you are interested in learning more about our activities and current projects please contact me.

  • We are currently completing analysis for the process evaluation of the BC Healthy Connections Project (also called the Nursing Care Partnership Study).  I have been working with Karen Campbell (PhD student, McMaster University) to analyze data related to adaptations required to the nursing model for rural contexts and with Lenora Marcellus and others on nurse and client recruitment and retention.

  • Our research project titled: Working to their full scope: Exploring changing work relationships between RNs and LPNs has been completed (see publications list). The overall purpose of this study was to investigate changing work relationships between RNs, LPNs and other workers (Nursing Assistants or Health Care Assistants) who provide nursing services in acute care hospitals.

  • We are currently developing a follow-up study looking at how nursing work environments relate to some of our findings from the RN LPN study. The implementation of “team nursing” care delivery models that shift from a predominantly RN based model to team models consisting of fewer RN’s and more LPN’s and introducing health care assistants (HCAs) on each shift warrants further study.