“Primary and Community Care are the foundation of the entire health care system.”
That’s a very powerful statement. It also happens to be the theme of the upcoming VC Research Day which is being put on jointly by Vancouver Community and the VCHRI* on November 15th.
Barbara Eddy is a Nurse Practitioner working in the Downtown Community Health Clinic (DCHC) and she explains what that statement means to her, “I see Primary Care as the entry point for people. It’s their first step to accessing health care.” She went on to talk about health prevention, promotion and diagnosis happening at this initial stage.
Primary care is the foundation of one’s health care journey. “It’s where we can look at the person as a whole and coordinate care. Patients who are not assigned a medical practitioner (physician or nurse practitioner) are more susceptible to not receiving this organized approach to care. These patients are considered, “unattached”.
Although Barb is not a dedicated researcher, she took part in the Research Challenge. “It’s an amazing program that enables front line staff to conduct research in their area of expertise with the support from the VCHRI,” says Barb. After successfully applying to the program, Barb was given a grant, access to a research mentor, and other supports.
An interdisciplinary team was struck that included Barb, and two other members of her team, a dietician and an RN clinical coordinator. The research project examined an intervention aimed at how they could improve the rate of colon screening in patients who might be susceptible to colon cancer, especially unattached patients. It was actually a quality improvement (QI) initiative.
The aim of the QI initiative was to have patients and the interdisciplinary team create awareness around the importance of colon screening, and change the team’s work flow to empower the nurses to facilitate colon screening independently.
Barb explains, “In the past, colon screening could only be ordered by a physician or nurse practitioner. So now if an unattached patient comes to the clinic for another health reason and only sees a nurse, and sees information about colon screening, he or she can ask the nurse about it. If the nurse thinks it’s warranted, she or he can order the screening.” This is especially key for the unattached patient – who previously would not get a colon screening without a medical clinician ordering the test.
Results of the research
The results from the research are not in yet, but Barb feels confident that they have made a difference to the rates of colon screening at DCHC. Barb also believes that there are significant benefits to having the front line clinicians determine the research question and be the principle investigators. “When we are involved directly in the research, the knowledge translation to the entire interdisciplinary team is immediate. This means changes to patient care happen more quickly and, hopefully, immediately improves patient outcomes.” Barb feels she has grown as a researcher through this process.
To find out more about the kinds of research projects that are happening around VC, join us on November 15 for Vancouver Community Research Day – Celebrating and Showcasing Community Health Services Research. It will be held in the Medical Student & Alumni Centre at 2750 Heath Street on the VGH campus.
What you can expect at Research Day
There will be two keynote speakers, a poster session, activities hosted by VCHRI to inform new researchers of the various funding and educational resources available to support their research, and other exciting activities over the course of the day so you can pick and choose your topic. You will have opportunities to learn about research at Vancouver Community, connect with researchers and learn about VCHRI resources for starting your own research project.
Registration for this event will be required
*The Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI) is the research arm of VCH and a health partner of UBC. Their focus is on innovation and discoveries that improve patient health, transform health systems, and directly impact health outcomes. They are a significant part of B.C.’s health research industry and a major health research institute in Canada.