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Fourth-year medical student Alexander Sharp was awarded the North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) Student Family Medicine/Primary Care Research Award.

Med student recognized for family med research project

October 28, 2020 — 

A fourth-year medical student at the Max Rady College of Medicine has received an award for his research looking at community-based treatment and care for people with substance use disorders.

Alexander Sharp was awarded the North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) Student Family Medicine/Primary Care Research Award. The honour recognizes outstanding family medicine/primary care research by a medical student.

“I’m honoured and happy to win the award,” Sharp said. “The entire research process was an amazing learning experience. It was great to have the ability to bring my project to NAPCRG and have my work recognized. I would certainly like to thank my supervisors Dr. Gayle Halas, Dr. Joanna Lynch and Dr. Erin Knight, for their guidance.”

Sharp received the honour for the work he did while enrolled in the Med Summer Research Program in 2019. The title of his project is Navigating Systemic and Personal Hurdles: Using a Safety Seeking Lens to Explore Primary Care Based Addiction Medicine.

He interviewed 18 people who were either trying to access or who successfully accessed Manitoba’s Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine (RAAM) Clinics. The drop-in clinics are for people seeking help with substance use and addictions, and for people who may have substance-related health issues.

“The goal of the study was to understand the perspectives and experiences of people who use drugs to inform an evaluation of addiction medicine services,” Sharp said. “The majority of people I interviewed had positive experiences accessing care at the RAAM Clinics.” 

When Sharp concluded the study, he presented his findings to RAAM Clinic team members and Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba MLAs. Sharp hopes that his presentation helped galvanize further provincial funding for the clinics.

Sharp was nominated for the NAPCRG award by his supervisors: Halas, Rady Chair in Interprofessional Collaborative Practice and assistant professor in the department of family medicine in the Max Rady College of Medicine; Knight, director of the RAAM Clinics; and Lynch, associate professor of family medicine in the Max Rady College of Medicine. Sharp was also supported by team members Dr. Nicole Reise and public partner, Kim Longstreet.

“He did a remarkable job of a very difficult topic,” Halas said. “His whole approach and the rigour of his work was outstanding. He has a genuine passion and interest in addressing the needs of individuals with substance use disorder. As an interviewer, he has a really great way of connecting with individuals in a very safe kind of way for them, he’s non-judgmental, and he’s got beautiful writing.”

Halas was pleased to have a public partner involved in the research process. She hopes other student projects seek out patient and public voices to inform projects in the future.

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