Dr. Carol McDonald

Dr.  Carol  McDonald
School of Nursing


Office: HSD A440

I have been a guest on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen and WSANEC  peoples since 2003. It is my daily privilege to live and work on these lands; as such I raise my hands to the Lekwungen and SENCOTEN speaking peoples.

Since 2003 I have taught in the undergraduate and graduate programs in the School of Nursing and have acted in administrative roles in the MN and PhD programs.  Currently my role in the School is as Coordinator of Indigenous Initiatives. In this capacity I lead a committee that is committed to bringing awareness of the ongoing effects of colonial practices and Indigenous knowledge to all members of School including students, staff and faculty. We are additionally committed to ensuring Indigenous students are welcomed and supported. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission underpins the work of Indigenous Initiatives Committee, in particular Call to Action # 24 stating:

We call upon medical and nursing schools in Canada to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.”

Throughout my nursing career I have experienced nursing practice as the enactment of social justice with many opportunities for political action to raise the cause of groups who are underserved by Canada’s institutional systems. This approach to engagement crosses my direct nursing practice, and practice as an educator and researcher and is informed by the values of critical feminist hermeneutics.  As such, I endeavour to value the direct experience of people, always within the larger contextual view of influencing social, political and material realities. 


I joined the UVic School of Nursing in 2003 building on a practice career in mental health nurse and group therapist in Calgary and have since taught in the undergraduate continuing and post-basic programs as well as in the MN and PhD programs. My contributions to the administration of the School of Nursing include serving as past coordinator of the nurse educator (NUED) stream in the MN program and as acting coordinator of the PhD committee. Over a number of years I have held membership on the PhD Committee, the Graduate Education Committee and the Graduate Education Curriculum Committee.

In spite of the increasing wish by the University to be seen as "research intensive", I continue to hold the view of the University as a place of learning: a structure that supports the intentional creation of time and space to, read, think, dialogue and write.  An important area of work in the school is the support and development of new scholars. In this regard, I have worked closely with a number of Master and Doctoral students in the preparation of publications and conference presentations.


My approach to teaching originates with an intention to create a class (room) space in which students have the opportunity to critically reflect on philosophical knowledge, theoretical knowledge, practical knowledge and the ways in which this knowledge is enacted in practice from the position of our unique situatedness in the world.

In the teaching/learning endeavor, I am committed to questioning taken-for-granted practices in healthcare and academia, and to critical reflection on the assumptions that underlie our practice. My teaching is based on assumptions about the value of engagementin interpersonal relationships and therefore proceeds, whenever possible, in a format of conversational dialogue between and among students and educators.

I have taught in undergraduate and graduate classrooms in face-to-face and online formats. I have held directed study reading courses with graduate students exploring the philosophical work of Heidegger, Gadamer and Judith Butler.


Completed Projects
  • Certainly one of the highlights of my career has been collaborating with Marjorie McIntyre on the four editions of the nursing text Realities in Canadian Nursing: Professional Practice and Power Issues. From the first edition, this edited text has attracted as authors important nurse researchers and leaders from across the country and presented a uniquely Canadian perspective on the issues facing nurse practitioners, educators and researchers. The fourth edition of the text, currently in press, presents new chapters on current issues by both established and emerging nurse scholars.
  • Building on the completed SSHRC study, Older lesbians' experiences of ongoing disclosure of sexual orientation, I am now networking with academic colleagues from across Canada to explore ongoing research regarding congregate living for older LGBTQ people. I am currently involved in volunteer training with Victoria Hospice and have an interest in the therapeutic use of dogs.
  • In 2011, I completed a three-year SSHRC-funded study titled, Older lesbians' experiences of ongoing disclosure of sexual orientation. The findings of this study have been presented internationally, nationally, provincially and locally to academic, community, disciplinary and interdisciplinary audiences. The opportunity for ongoing multiple presentations to such diverse audiences has enabled the team to enlarge our discussion, to engage with others on the same topic and to submit articles for publication.
  • In 2011, along with Marjorie McIntyre, I completed a two-year study funded by the Learning and Teaching Centre, The influence of peer dynamics in learning online. Key ideas from the study include:
  1. To acknowledge differences among students in terms of time available for their studies, commitment to the work and expectations for connection and support
  2. To encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning, to value the strengths of online learning and to recognize in advance what the challenges might be for them
  3. To support students in working through challenges but resisting the temptation to intervene in what could be pedagogical opportunities for student learning
  4. To begin online learning with face to face orientation times in which students establish beginning relationships with peers and educators
  5. To facilitate the establishment of peer communities of learning, the creation of cohorts of students and learning groups in geographical proximity to one another.
  6. To organize the pace of online course work so that the class moves through together, to minimize students working ahead or falling behind.
  • It has been a privilege to co-edit earlier editions of the textbook (2003, 2006, 2010) Realities of Canadian Nursing, Professional, Practice and Power Issues with Marjorie McIntyre. This textbook, which presents a uniquely Canadian critical analysis of issues for nurses in education, leadership and at the point of care, has been consistently well received in schools of nursing across the country.