An elite group of recent PhD graduates and doctoral candidates came from around the world on November 28 and 29 to present at Bloomberg Nursing’s Emerging Scholars Forum. Over two days, the next generation of leading nurse scientists impressed peers and faculty members with their phenomenal range of research. Topics covered everything from effects of exercise on depressive symptoms of young people, to understanding of how nurses judge cognitive functions of older people in acute care settings, to exploring how temporary labour migration from P.E.I. to Alberta affects families left behind. The 24 attendees, either new PhD graduates or close to completing their studies, had unfettered access to Bloomberg Nursing’s influential researchers, and a chance to meet in-depth with group of peers who could become future collaborative colleagues.
“Very rarely does an opportunity to be part of a core group of like-minded nursing scholars arise, or a chance to share such a broad spectrum of research, and I was honoured to get an invitation,” said Dr. Rachel Kornhaber, Burns Course Coordinator at the University of Adelaide who presented on Roads to recovery: Adult burn survivors’ ‘lived experience’ of rehabilitation. “As I’ve noticed that academic conferences are getting bigger and more impersonal, this Forum’s intimate setting was invaluable in making critical networking connections to aid in advancing nursing science.”
The morning of November 28 began with a warm introduction by Interim Dean Linda McGillis Hall. Addressing the achievements of attendees and their scholarly research, Dr. McGillis Hall provided an overview of Bloomberg Nursing’s top-tier ranking of all research-intensive universities in North America and overall goals of the Forum. Looking to support development and international networking for this prestigious group of scholars, Dr. McGillis Hall also stressed the Faculty’s desire to connect each attendee to a Bloomberg Nursing faculty member with similar research interests.
Former dean of Bloomberg Nursing, Dr. Sioban Nelson, spoke during the morning session to discuss future scholarship in nursing. Drawing on her extensive nursing experience, and now broader role at U of T as vice provost, academic programs, Dr. Nelson stressed the importance of keeping abreast of new phenomena now shaping scholarship and nursing: Big data evidence, team-based initiatives and system improvements. How that fits into the Scholars’ research discipline, how that discipline will contribute to knowledge and the importance of team work left a strong impression with the visiting nurse scientists.
“The breadth of research we’ve encountered over these two days has been huge,” said Dr. Emma Stanmore, a lecturer at The University of Manchester’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work,who presented on The incidence of falls and associated risk factors in adults with rheumatoid arthritis. “Meeting with this group of high-calibre nurses, and hearing Dr. Nelson present such a strong strategic picture of where nursing research is headed, will definitely have an impact on my long-term approaches to my work.”
After presenting a research and academic overview of Bloomberg Nursing, Dr. Kelly Metcalfe, interim associate dean, research and external relations and Dr. Ann Tourangeau, associate dean, academic, quickly launched into the facilitated sessions. During 10 minutes of allotted time, each attendee gave an informative talk on their work, which spurred much discussion during question and answer sessions. The room buzzed with energy as questions, comments and anecdotes from interested peers came after each presentation.
“I thoroughly enjoyed this experience of meeting so many nurses involved in critical research on topics ranging from structure and future of the profession, to addressing clinical needs of patients,” said Dr. Laoise Renwick, a postdoctoral researcher at Kings College London who presented on Quality of life in first-episode psychosis. “It’s been enlightening and encouraging to see other nurses with diverse interests operating as independent researchers. It has also been refreshing and provocative in that I’ve been able to compare and evaluate nursing research across continents where there are different systemic and policy contexts.”
The first day wrapped up with a dinner in honour of these top tier applicants who received an invitation to participate in the Forum. This was another opportunity to chat further with peers, faculty and meet with nursing executives from affiliated teaching hospitals. A space created to showcase strong research-based nurse scholars of the future, this successful Emerging Scholars Forum not only forged strong research connections but inspired attendees in ways that will impact nursing research for years to come.
“It was encouraging to see so many scientists in the room who are going to carry forward some of these important clinical issues when we’re thinking about answers to the future of health care,” said Dr. Metcalfe. “This group of scholars showcased where nursing research is heading, and our global health systems will be stronger because of their work.”