What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?
I am a clinician scientist associated with the Centre for Heart Valve Innovation at St. Paul’s Hospital. My program of research focuses on the measurement of patient-reported outcomes and experiences, the development of clinical pathways and processes of care for the implementation of innovative treatment options, and the care of older adults in cardiovascular programs. In my clinical practice, I have responsibilities for clinical care, system leadership, advancement of nursing practice, and quality assurance. I am an assistant clinical professor at the University of British Columbia School of Nursing where I pursue collaborative research and provide supervision for graduate students.
How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?
The PhD I earned at UBC has been a door opener for multiple opportunities. The training and education I received in the conduct of rigorous clinical research has enabled me to establish myself as a research partner of multidisciplinary research groups. At UBC, I learned to dream big – to imagine the possibilities of raising the bar for nursing, to champion the expertise of nurses, to forge a path to improve patient care, and to sit at the “big research table” to collaborate and make a difference. I am able to help connect clinicians, researchers and policy-makers, and have gained a great appreciation of the joy of working with people who share this passion.
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
I pursued my PhD without interrupting my clinical responsibilities as an advanced practice nurse. When I graduated, I was fortunate that St. Paul’s Hospital was supportive of my pursuit of the role of clinician scientist. I was able to combine my clinical expertise and scholarship training to build a research program embedded in my clinical role. This is a pioneering and exciting opportunity for nurses as members of the multidisciplinary team. I have a chance to use my unique nursing expertise and academic training to pursue research that is directly informed by questions raised in the clinical setting. As a research user, I am also tasked with leading practice changes. The cycle of knowledge translation cycle doesn’t get a lot tighter!
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
The UBC School of Nursing is a preeminent place of learning and is internationally recognized as a leader of nursing practice and scholarship. I am fortunate to be the product of this exceptional learning environment. The mentorship of exceptional supervisors, the quality of the doctoral teaching staff, and the inspiration of the varied and talented student body combined to offer a fruitful and motivating experience. It’s a tribute to the people and the place that I was able to secure the highest level of competitive funding, accelerate my scientific productivity, and launch my research career.
What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?
Crossing the stage at my graduation did not end my adventure with UBC. The doors of the university remained wide open, and I rapidly transitioned to establishing exciting research partnerships. I owe much of my success as a clinician scientist to the strong bonds I have built with the School of Nursing and the Faculty of Medicine. I am fortunate to be mentored by diverse multidisciplinary scientists. In a short period, I have become a research partner of multiple local and international groups with whom I share interests and am able to contribute a unique perspective. I’m on a truly exceptional ride.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
My first advice is to step up. Nurses have immense potential to increase their visibility and contributions as clinician scientists. The road is not well mapped yet, but there are encouraging signals that the need is increasingly recognized. As doors start to open, doctoral training for nurses in clinical practice becomes essential. These are exciting times for nurses – our expertise in patient-centred care is essential to help move health care forward. My second advice is for nurses to capitalize on their often non-linear trajectory of professional development. In a practice-based discipline, years spent in practice are a significant investment in understanding the essential components of academic work: understanding patients’ experiences of health, grappling with the complexity of the health care system, or developing innovative solutions to challenging and changing clinical problems are fertile ground to embark in academic work and accelerate the impact of research leadership.
Did you have any breaks in your education?
I am the very proud mother of four extraordinary children who are now making their way in the world.