Erin Patterson and Margaret Saari

PhD Students Implement Innovation Across the Health Care Continuum at INARC 2013

23 November 2013

What brought nursing PhD students Margaret Saari and Erin Patterson to Baltimore to speak on the economics of post-acute nursing care at the 2013 International Nursing Administration Research Conference (INARC)?  As Bloomberg Nursing PhD students, under the supervision of Dr. Ann Tourangeau, their research submission fit well with the INARC theme of “Implementing Innovation across the Health Care Continuum.”  In front of an international audience, the two students presented their research entitled “Cost Utility Analysis of Post-Acute Care for Hip Fracture: A Canadian Perspective.”

“It’s rare to be in the position of having research of this scope to present resulting from U of T coursework but this is just one of the many opportunities the program provides,” says Patterson, who completed her undergraduate degree at McMaster and her graduate studies at Ryerson. “This was the first time we’ve been the primary authors of what we were presenting. It was a great accomplishment to speak to such a distinguished group of top nursing administrators, and nurse researchers who are looking at leadership, health services and health organizations.”

Their work, a costing study to examine the economics of post-acute nursing care and how it relates to outcomes touched on a subject gaining attention throughout North America.  “It’s getting more important to justify the costs associated to the care nurses provide and find more innovative ways to deliver that care,” says Saari, who entered the Bloomberg Nursing BScN program after completing a Master of Teaching at Australia’s Griffith University.  “The positive response we received from attendees was overwhelming, and their suggestions on where to publish were tremendous.”

Their paper, which came from work done through the U of T Institute of Health Policy, Management & Evaluation (IHPME) course, HAD5730H: Economic Evaluation Methods for Health Services generated much discussion among guests.  Patterson and Saari’s research resonated with the audience and brought to light the potential to examine new directions in nursing economics.  This spirit of collaboration was a reminder of home and the collegial atmosphere Dr. Tourangeau fosters with her students.  Working closely with three of Tourangeau’s other students, who are at different stages of their PhDs, both Patterson and Saari recognized the positive impact this has on their research.

“The Faculty, and from my personal experience Ann, really support PhD students and gives us a number of opportunities that I don’t know we’d get to undertake elsewhere,” says Saari, whose area of research focuses on health system improvements for patients in home care.  “Programs like the Faculty’s Summer Undergraduate Student Research Program provided a fantastic introduction to nursing research and participating in that program during the summer of 2010 accelerated my decision to apply to the PhD program.”

Saari’s summer experience working for Dr. Tourangeau evolved into a number of research roles, which have continued on during her PhD studies.

Working as a home care nurse in Brampton and Hamilton, Patterson saw where changes could be made in the system.  Drawing on personal experiences, Patterson began her graduate studies with a focus on access to home care services for seniors through examining quantitative data from Ontario.

“At Ryerson, I discovered how much I enjoyed the quantitative side of research and after completing my Master of Nursing knew that U of T was the place for PhD studies,” says Patterson.  “I contacted Ann because she is a leader in the field of health care outcomes research and after meeting with her, I knew this learning environment would equip me with the skills to impact changes in home care delivery.”

Their sights set on conferences in 2014, Patterson and Saari, who are both Ontario Graduate Scholars, are looking to enter several abstract submissions to advance their research and the nursing scholarship of Bloomberg Nursing.