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Guest Speaker Series: Knowledge Translation in Patient Care

October 16, 2020
UBC MHLP Guest Speaker Aggie Black

On September 29, the Master of Health Leadership cohort had the opportunity to learn from Agnes (Aggie) Black, the Director of Research and Knowledge Translation for Providence Health Care (PHC).

Becoming the Director of Research and Knowledge Translation

Aggie began her career as a Nursing Research Faciliatator with the mandate to increase nurse involvement in research and build bridges between clinical practice and academia. With the support of mentors, she was able to connect with upper leadership in the PHC organization.

This eventually translated into the new role of the Director of Research and Knowledge Translation throughout PHC. In this role, the director creates, supports and evaluates initiatives to further clinician involvement in research and knowledge translation (KT) activities. Further, she leads professional development actitivites and acts as a liason for anyone interested in research or engaging with PHC.

Knowledge translation, in this case, is the process of getting health research evidence put to use in clinical practice with the ultimate goal of improving patient care.

The Professional Practice Office

The Professional Practice Office at PHC provides the policies and processes that support and guide disciplines in providing safe, quality, person-and family-centred care. Unfortunately, Aggie notes that not enough people are aware of the important work that takes place in the Professional Practice Office. Practice Consultants in this office lead Interdisciplinary Practice, Medication Safety, Person and Family Centred Care, Speciality Education, and more.

Aggie’s role primarily focuses on fostering an appreciation for research, promoting research, and encouraging research collaboration. She seeks to further clinicians appreciation of how clinical research underpins their practice, and how it has lead to the guidelines and processes that we have in place today. Her work promotes evidence based leadership.

Evidence based leadership is the appreciation for research, literature, and evidence, and further to be thoughtful about the ways we spend money in health care.

Current Projects and Research

Some current and exciting projects and research involvement that Aggie works with include:

  • EQUIP-ED This study involves research to equip health care for equity in emergency rooms. This study aims to removes all barriers that marginalized communities—including Indigenous individuals, patients struggling with their mental health and others—face in emergency departments when seeking care.
  • PODS. This project focuses on developing a Patient-Oriented Discharge process which provides better support to patients and their families in the discharge process. An award-winning project, this is a very successful new tool in clinical practice.
  • Photo Voice Study. In this study, nurses who care for patients with COVID-19 are able to tell their story through photos.

These studies and projects aim to improve the quality of care that all patients receive in all stages of clinical care.

The PHC Research Challenge

Aggie also began the annual PHC Research Challenge with the goals of improving patient care, engaging point-of-care staff in clinical research, futhering evaluation and evidence baed practice, and generating excitement in the workplace around research. The Challenge aims to show that research is not just for those with a PhD; those with a BSN are capable of completing a research project that can be meaningful.

The PHC Research Challenge is referred to as the “jewel in the crown of professional development at PHC.”

Many nurses face barriers to research in that they feel a lack of knowledge about research processes, feel a lack of authority to change practice, are perhaps not supported by their colleagues, and have insufficient time to implenet new ideas. Ultimately, nurses often do not receive the support required to develop research and innovate in health care.

The PHC Research Challenge breaks down these barriers through various workshops on topics including: literary review, research methods and ethics, and mentorship. Further, the challenge provides funding for research groups.

The results of this annual challenge includes conference presentations, publications of prohect results, articles in peer-reviewed journals, and multiple practice changes adopted based on the findings of these projects.

The three pillars of Knowledge Translation are:

  1. What need does your practice change address?
  2. What implementation strategies will you use?
  3. How will your evaluate the achievements of your change?

The results of this challenge include the additons of screening for depression in cardiac programs, screening for malnutrition in hospitals, and has increased the use of Canadian Stroke Best Practice recommendations.

MHLP students should consider ways that they might innovate and create change in health practice when they step into leadership positions.

Advice for up and coming leaders

Aggie shared these tips for the MHLP cohort—the health care leaders of tomorrow.

  • Take initiative in finding great mentors who will support your work. The School of Nursing at UBC has so many incredible leaders for you to connect with.
  • Link and collaborate with excellent partners. In this, Aggie recommends that students visit CHEOS (Centre for Health Evaluation & Outcome Sciences) and PHCRI (Providence Health Care Research Institute).
  • “Don’t be a shrinking violet!” Be sure to evaluate and promote your work.
  • “We will always need health care leaders! Be evidence-based, build strong networks, find great mentors, work in a way that makes others want to join you or collaborate with you. Don’t be afraid to promote your work and that of your team.”

Are you a health professional ready to step into roles of increased responsibility? Are you passionate about developing your leadership skills, so to advance the health care industry?

Explore UBC’s Master of Health Leadership and Policy to see how this professional graduate degree program can transform your career.

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