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Abeer Alraja

PhD candidate Abeer Alraja was among the winners at the 2020 Helen Glass Research Symposium Graduate Student Poster Competition.

College of Nursing celebrates graduate student competition winners

December 4, 2020 — 

When the College of Nursing postponed the 2020 Helen Glass Research Symposium in March, it was only days before the University of Manitoba cancelled in-person classes due to COVID-19. However, at that point, submissions were already sent in for one of the symposium’s signature events, the Graduate Student Poster Competition.

While plans for the 2021 symposium are still in development, associate professor Dr. Christina West, chair of the event, decided in consultation with the organizing committee, that the poster competition should still go ahead, in a virtual format, to recognize and celebrate the work of the students involved.

There were 19 submissions for the 2020 edition of the conference, and for the first time ever, UM students outside of the College of Nursing were encouraged to submit work, particularly if their project had an Indigenous health focus.

“The impact of colonization on the health of Indigenous people was to be a major focus of the 2020 symposium, with keynote speaker, Dr. John Lowe, a Cherokee Native American and the McKenzie endowed Professor in Health Disparities Research from Florida State University,” West said. “I think as nurses, it is critically important that we more fully understand the ongoing impacts of colonization for Indigenous people. We need to work with Indigenous people in addressing the inequity and injustice that they have experienced in the past, and continue to experience today.”

An online ceremony was held Nov. 30, and opened by a greeting from Leslie Spillett, Knowledge Keeper in residence at the College of Nursing and with Ongomiizwin, who spoke about the importance for students to celebrate and support each other.  

Alisia Roos, a M.Sc. (Rehabilitation) candidate, received the award for a poster with an Indigenous health research focus.

Alisia Roos

Alisia Roos received anaward for her poster on occupational therapists and their experience working in Indigenous communities.

“I’m working on a project with occupational therapists (OTs) about their experience working in Indigenous communities, programs or organizations. I interviewed five OTs who work in Northern Canada in really remote areas, who are really integrated into the Indigenous communities up there,” she said, noting that she has completed her data collection since submitting the poster.

She said the project was inspired by her own experience as an OT, moving from the Deer Lodge Centre in suburban Winnipeg to the Health Sciences Centre, where she worked with many clients from remote Indigenous communities.

“Some things like the isolation and ability to get rehab equipment to these communities, were things I didn’t think about before. I wanted to see what other OTs were experiencing and how we could change things,” she said.

Other winners included students and recent graduates from the College of Nursing’s master’s and doctoral programs, including Emily Hyde, Deanne O’Rourke, Shireen Bell and Abeer Alraja.

Alraja, a PhD candidate who expects to graduate in 2021, received an award for her project on creating an educational tool for nurses on workplace bullying in health-care settings.

“Workplace bullying among nurses is a prevalent and serious problem in Canada and around the world,” she said.

Alraja is a mother of three originally from Jordan who attained a master’s degree in nursing from UM in 2011, said her interest in healthy work environments in health care settings was strengthened after attending an Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba (ARNM) Emerging Leader Session in 2017 on the transition of newly graduated nurses into practice.

“When we talked about workplace bullying, it disturbed me that many of the new nurses are justifying the behaviour by finding excuses for the bullies, as if it is part of the culture of nursing practice,” she said. “I realized that addressing bullying should start in nursing schools to prepare a new generation of nurses who do not accept bullying as part of being a nurse.”

Dr. Netha Dyck, dean of the College of Nursing, said hosting the Helen Glass Research Symposium is a highlight for the college every year.

“Although we were unable to host the symposium this year, we are delighted to celebrate and showcase the research and scholarship our esteemed graduate students have engaged in and pay tribute to the inspiring award recipients,” Dyck said.

View all submissions to the Graduate Student Poster Competition.

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