Trainee Feature: Kristin Zelyck

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself! 

A: My name is Kristin Zelyck.  I have been a registered nurse for over 20 years primarily in cardiology and intensive care settings. Initially, my clinical experiences ignited curiosity in ethical and moral issues in healthcare which led to completion of a master’s degree in Bioethics and Clinical Health Policy from Loyola University, Chicago. Currently I 

wear multiple hats as an assistant teaching professor with the Faculty of Nursing, casual nurse in CCU, and PhD student in Nursing at the University of Alberta. I identify as a settler scholar located on unsurrendered Treaty 6 lands and hope to ally with Indigenous Peoples in the work of decolonization and reconciliation.

Q: What led you pursue a PhD in Nursing?

A: In my clinical experience, I have been privileged to work with Indigenous colleagues and care for Indigenous patients.  These experiences have compelled me to explore Indigenous healthcare from an ethical perspective in my master’s degree which resulted in more questions related to the ongoing impact of colonialism on Indigenous health and healing.  Learning about alternative perspectives of health and healing has nurtured awareness of the Western view of healthcare that dominates our healthcare systems.  Furthermore, nursing education, particularly teaching an Indigenous health course for nursing students and engaging with Indigenous colleagues and knowledge keepers have afforded opportunities for me to nurture relationships, learn about Indigenous ways of knowing, and critically reflect on the systems and structures Canadian healthcare is embedded in.  I view my PhD program as a journey of learning and growth.


Q: Tell us a bit about your research! 

A: The purpose of my research is to explore frontline or bedside healthcare provider perspectives and practices in relationship to Indigenous patients and families cared for in the context of intensive care settings.  I also want to explore Indigenous patient experiences in Canadian acute and intensive healthcare settings. Currently I am in just finishing the first year of my PhD program.  I realize that sustainable relationships that honor Indigenous principles of respect, responsibility and reciprocity are paramount in this kind of research.  I hope to approach my research from a Two-Eyed Seeing Lens which emphasizes the strengths of Indigenous and Western ways of knowing.  At the moment I am working on a scoping review to determine what literature is available exploring bedside healthcare providers experiences of caring for Indigenous patients and families in acute care and intensive care settings.

To explore healthcare provider and Indigenous patient perspectives and experiences in the ICU to promote ethical and culturally safe pathways of care that align with Indigenous ways of knowing, doing, and healing.


Q: What impact do you hope this project will have?

A: In my research, I hope to respond to the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action for Indigenous health, specifically #22: We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.


My hope is that this research will address the inequities Indigenous peoples’ experience within ICU settings and increase awareness in intensive care settings to create space for meaningful patient engagement with Indigenous peoples. Additionally, I hope to emphasize an ethical practice that aligns with Indigenous ways of knowing, doing, and healing to promote holistic care through a lens of cultural safety and cultural humility.  


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