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Victoria Guido: An advocate for Indigenous nursing students

Dec 2, 2020
By Guylaine Spencer

Victoria Guido

Nursing school is demanding, with coursework and clinical placements eating up a lot of a student’s time. However, that hasn’t stopped Victoria Guido from stepping up to do volunteer work that will make great contributions to her fellow and future nursing students. 

Guido is a 4th year student in the McMaster-Mohawk-Conestoga BScN program at the Conestoga College site. She’s Indigenous with roots in the Anishinaabe, Cree and Iroquois nations in Northern Ontario. This year she has taken on volunteer roles where she can speak on behalf of other Indigenous nursing students.

Guido is the Indigenous student representative for MUNSS, the McMaster University Nursing Students Society. “Last year was a little heavy school-wise so I didn’t feel I’d be able to give my best,” says Guido. "In March when I saw they still had positions available, I thought why not use my 4th year to make sure there is a difference for students coming into the program? In this role, I act as an advocate and voice for the other Indigenous nursing students. They are transitioning the role into an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion role for second semester but as of right now I am making sure that the Indigenous student voice is heard and that we are being represented through all of the events we have, and that in class people are being mindful of the terminology being used.”  

Her work for MUNSS is multifaceted. “I have created Facebook posts about special events that are happening in the Indigenous communities, like Indigenous Nursing Students Day, Orange Shirt Day, Indigenous Veterans Day, to shine the light on days that don’t always get the representation they deserve,” she notes. She recently did a presentation with her sister who is an Indigenous lawyer to talk about cultural competency in health care. “Six Nations is so close, so we want to make sure nurses are being culturally competent when they deal with Indigenous patients.” She also started a book club where every month she showcases one or two books by Indigenous authors to encourage students to learn about Indigenous history and culture. This is available on the MUNSS Facebook page.  

This year, Guido was invited to become a member of the Curriculum Implementation and Evaluation Committee for the School of Nursing. “This is where the school comes together and looks at the four years of curriculum as a whole and makes recommendations. In this role, I have reiterated that it’s important to be mindful of the terminology we are using. As teachers, they are the ones setting the example for nursing students. I also had suggestions about some of the case studies we discuss in nursing school.” In addition, the School of Nursing is undergoing an accreditation review next year, and Guido provided the faculty with a document with correct terminology to use in the process.  

Dr. Joanna Pierazzo is the assistant dean, undergraduate nursing programs, for the school. “I am pleased that Victoria is a member of our tri-site curriculum committee. The BScN program remains committed to action and change, guided by our Faculty of Health Sciences Indigenous Initiative. Our meetings bring together nursing faculty and students across our Consortium to work on these important goals. Victoria has already provided a central voice at the table and is influencing content shifts in the curriculum,” says Pierazzo.  

As for her plans after graduating this coming spring, Guido is hoping to pursue a master’s degree to become a clinical expert. “I want to get my critical care certificate and I hope to work in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and become a northern nurse,” she says. It’s one more way to continue making contributions to her community.

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