With over a decade of experience treating stroke patients, Ismália plans on illustrating and addressing some of the major inequities in stroke care, making care more responsive to the needs of stroke survivors. Her goal is to institute new, equitable health care systems and structures for stroke survivors, leading to better quality of life. 

Dr. Sally Thorne, Dr. Sandra Lauck, Dr. Thalia Field
2023 Personnel Awards for Black Scholars
Research Description

More young women live with the effects of a stroke compared with recent years, but they are under-researched. Even though improvements in stroke care have occurred in the last decade, women are at an increased risk of stroke, tend to die more often of it in the immediate phase, and have more severe disabilities than men. Stroke misdiagnosis is also more frequent in women and younger adults. In Canada, stroke rates in young people are rising, especially among young women, which leads to more young women living with the effects of a stroke. In addition to gender differences, inequities in stroke outcomes exist between people with a stroke living in rural and urban areas and high and low socioeconomic groups. Studies have explored young stroke survivors' experiences, but few have focused on young women. Within this subpopulation, 2SLGBTQIA+ and visible minorities are also understudied. My doctoral research uses a qualitative research methodology (Interpretive Description) and is informed by critical theories to explore the experiences of a diverse group of young women stroke survivors accessing care through the patient pathway. The findings can contribute to person-centred and equitable systems of care, ultimately improving patient outcomes.

What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?

Being a Public Scholar means being a community-partner scholar, mobilizing clinical and research knowledge for the betterment of society. A Public Scholar recognizes their shared responsibility and social obligation to their communities and the world.

In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?

The Public Scholars Initiative re-imagines the Ph.D. experience by disrupting the notion that the Ph.D. education is isolated from the real world and everyday life and within the boundaries of students’ disciplines. By bringing together students and alumni from various disciplines, community organizations, community leaders, mentors and other scholars, the Public Scholars initiative can challenge our ways of knowing and of our discipline, strengthen our critical thinking and develop our skills to deal with the complex economic and social challenges in a world where inequities are pervasive and entrenched. These interdisciplinary spaces can expand our angle of vision and find innovative solutions to contribute to the “public good”.

How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?

I hope to develop the capability and readiness to contribute as a Nurse Clinician-Scientist in stroke care in Canada and internationally, a role that will integrate clinical practice, research and academia. My Ph.D. work is building the foundations to establish a more fulsome program of longitudinal, multidisciplinary and multinational research focused on stroke care, health equity, sex and gender and other intersectional factors. Achieving this goal will enable me to contribute to the field of stroke care by reducing existing inequities in stroke and survivorship care, health systems and nursing in Canada and internationally. My doctoral project offers the opportunity to create strategic alliances with people with lived experience of stroke, organizations and healthcare professionals, and build capacity to translate knowledge findings to the policy realm, ultimately improving patient outcomes.

How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?

Using the principles of integrated knowledge translation, I plan to establish a Young Women Stroke Survivorship Collaborative with various knowledge partners such as Stroke Services British Columbia, After Stroke British Columbia, stroke survivors and their families/caregivers. This intellectual community with a shared purpose will build relationships from the outset of the project. The knowledge generated will inform my research study, and subsequently, the Collaborative will mobilize the research findings. I hope this engagement develops long-lasting partnerships, building capacity for future research that responds to the pressing needs of stroke survivors in British Columbia.

How do you hope your work can make a contribution to the “public good”?

My work responds to my discipline’s commitment to equity and social justice as a response to social problems and the needs of communities. I hope to shine a light on a group of stroke survivors that have been understudied, analyze their intersectional experiences accessing stroke care and the policies in British Columbia. In collaboration with various knowledge partners within the stroke community, the results of this project can foster equitable changes in health policy, clinical care and outcome evaluation frameworks in stroke care in British Columbia.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

As Black feminist bell hooks once wrote “The academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created”. Hooks goes on to say that “education is a place of promise and possibility.” As a registered nurse with 10 years of experience in stroke care in the United Kingdom before commencing my PhD studies, my role focused on improving outcomes for stroke survivors, informing policy and education, and contributing to regional and national health care systems transformations. Completing a PhD would strengthen my academic and research training, making it possible to drive and lead transformative, creative and forward-thinking changes that respond to complex and intersectional societal and health challenges such as stroke survivorship.

Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?

I chose UBC for its proximity to the sea, the laid-back lifestyle and the robust scholarship. My supervisors, Dr. Sally Thorne, Dr. Sandra Lauck and Dr. Thalia Field, are an example of the university’s critical mass of world-renowned scholars in the field of chronic diseases, cardiovascular nursing and stroke care, respectively. In addition, the environment in the UBC School of Nursing is well suited for those interested in conducting work that aligns with social justice.