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Rady PhD candidate working to enrich ERs

August 12, 2022 — 

After working as an emergency nurse around the world for nearly 15 years, it became clear to Sarah Filiatreault that changes needed to be made to enhance care.

A recipient of the Canadian Nurses Foundation Dr. Ann C. Beckingham Award and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship – Doctoral Research Award, Filiatreault has dedicated her career to learning how best to improve ERs.

While at the Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research (CAHSPR) conference in May, 2018, Filiatreault learned more about UM’s Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) leading her to enroll in a PhD in community health sciences in the Max Rady College of Medicine shortly after completing her Master of Nursing at the University of New Brunswick.

Feeling like community health sciences and MCHP could be the perfect fit for what she hoped to research, Filiatreault made the leap from Fredericton to Winnipeg.

You were working as a nurse for nearly 15 years. What inspired you to pursue your PhD in community health sciences at UM’s Rady Fady Faculty of Health Sciences?

When I finished my master’s degree at UNB, I wanted to challenge myself and do something other than nursing with a specialization in big data and administrative data. I thought community health sciences would be a good fit because it’s an interdisciplinary program.

I spent over a decade of my career working in a large tertiary care emergency department in Alberta, mostly working at triage or in charge of the department.  I was on quality improvement committees seeing really sick people waiting for long periods, or seeing gaps in overall quality of care. I realized a system change is needed to improve quality, but I couldn’t effect meaningful change from within the system. I realized I needed to go back to school and do the research to effect change at a higher level.

What’s the main focus of your research?

For my PhD research I’m developing a set of quality measures to monitor and evaluate the quality of delirium care older adults receive in the emergency department. It was borne out of my passion for improving the quality of emergency care in general.

While I was working on the frontlines in ERs in Canada and internationally, I became passionate about improving the quality of care beyond time targets. We all hear a lot about wait times. Timeliness is important but my research focuses on other care we give while someone is in the emergency department.

It’s important to monitor and evaluate what’s going on inside the emergency department because the care someone receives there can affect their outcomes throughout the healthcare trajectory. Before we can actually know what we need to do to increase the quality of care, we need mechanisms to monitor and evaluate practice performance currently so we can identify those gaps and variations in quality of care to focus improvement strategies where they’re most needed.

You’ve worked in Canada, Australia and the UK. What has working at all these different places taught you about the health-care system?

You learn that there is more than one right way to do things. Every place does things differently, so it really increases your skills toolbox. You learn to be more adaptable.

I also learned it doesn’t really matter where you live. All health-care systems are struggling with similar issues.

What has been most rewarding during your time at UM?

My time as the Student Co-Lead of the student engagement committee at MCHP. It’s allowed me to connect with the student and researcher community and learn so much about cool research that’s going on at MCHP. It really promotes a collaborative environment.

What are your plans once you finish your PhD?

I want to keep that door open and be open to all the opportunities that present themselves. That being said, I’m hoping to continue to work with MCHP to enhance emergency department data reliably collected and stored to be used for research. 

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