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Investing in cutting-edge tools and infrastructure for research

The Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund awards $2.65 million to advance research projects at Queen’s.

Sixteen researchers at Queen’s University have secured $2.65 million in funding in the latest round of the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). At an event at the University of Alberta, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, announced over $61 million in funding for state-of-the-art research labs and equipment nationwide.

The John R. Evans Leaders Fund helps exceptional researchers at universities across the country conduct leading-edge research by giving them the tools and equipment they need to become leaders in their fields.

The Queen’s funded projects will support the acquisition of infrastructure and development of tools that will advance research in myriad areas – from enhanced treatment for brain tumours to the seismic behaviour of concrete slabs to advancing the search for the elusive dark matter.

“Thanks to the support and critical investment of CFI, Queen’s researchers will have the tools and infrastructure they need to further their work in areas that have a direct impact on how we live and understand the world around us," says Kent Novakowski, Acting Vice-Principal (Research). “We look forward to seeing these projects progress.”

The successful researchers include:

  • Fady Abdelaal (Civil Engineering) - $200,000
  • Muhammad Alam (Electrical and Computer Engineering) - $125,000
  • Ryan Alkins (Surgery) - $150,000
  • Levente Balogh (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) - $200,000
  • Chantelle Capicciotti (Chemistry, Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, and Surgery) - $150,000
  • Aikaterini Genikomsou (Civil Engineering) - $150,000
  • Guillaume Giroux (Physics) - $200,000
  • Anna Harrison (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering) - $150,000
  • Felicia Maria Magpantay (Mathematics and Statistics) - $150,000
  • Suraj Persaud (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) - $125,000
  • Heidi-Lynn Ploeg (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) - $200,000
  • Jessica Selinger (Kinesiology and Health Studies) - $150,000
  • Laura Thompson (Geography and Planning) - $100,000
  • Anita Tusche (Economics) - $100,000
  • Sari van Anders (Psychology) - $250,000
  • Peng Wang (Chemistry) - $200,000

“Ask any researcher in Canada, and they will tell you that you can’t do the best science if you don’t have the best tools,” says Minister Duncan. “I am thrilled to announce funding for the infrastructure needs of Canadian researchers. Their ground-breaking contributions to science and research have an enormous impact on the breakthroughs that help make our visions for a better future of Canada a reality.”

For more information on the program and for a full list of funded projects, visit the John R. Evans Leaders Fund website.

Membership of Principal's Advisory Committee, Faculty of Health Sciences

On behalf of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane, Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) has announced the membership of the committee that will advise him on the deanship, and the present state and future prospects of the Faculty of Health Sciences.


Denis Bourguignon - Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Faculty of Health Sciences

Barbara Crow - Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science

Anne Ellis - Professor, Department of Medicine and cross-appointment to the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences

Dale Engen - Clinical Teachers’ Association of Queen’s President, Assistant Professor Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine

Marcia Finlayson - Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) and Director, Rehabilitation Therapy

Leslie Flynn - Vice-Dean, Education, Faculty of Health Sciences

Tom Harris (Co-Chair) - Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)

Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) - Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation)

Jasmine Khan - MD/PhD Student

David Pichora - President and Chief Executive Officer, Kingston Health Sciences Centre

Stephanie Simpson - Associate Vice-Principal (Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion)

Steven Smith - Director of Research, Faculty of Health Sciences and Professor, Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences

Erna Snelgrove-Clarke - Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) and Director, School of Nursing Designate

Lori Stewart (Secretary) - Executive Director, Office of the Provost and Vice Principal (Academic)

Cathy Szabo - Chief Executive Officer, Providence Care

Chandrakant Tayade - Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, Faculty of Health Sciences

George Thomson (Co-Chair) - Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization, Board Chair

Alex Troiani - Nursing Science Society Senator

Kim Woodhouse - Vice-Principal (Research)

Principal Deane would like to extend his thanks to the members of this committee for their willingness to serve.

Working towards equity

Women in Science Queen’s (WiSQ) is the second Employee Resource Group at Queen's University.

[Women in Science Queen's team]
The organizational team for Women in Science Queen's, includes, from left: Tiziana Cotechini, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Science; Kimberly Dunham-Snary, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Medicine;  Elahe Alizadeh, scientist at Queen’s Cardiopulmonary Unit (QCPU); Patricia Lima, adjunct assistant professor at QCPU; and Caroline F. Pukall, professor, Department of Psychology and Biomedical and Molecular Sciences.

Women in Science Queen’s (WiSQ), Queen’s University’s second Employee Resource Group, recently wrapped up a successful first series of events, including hosting meetings to discuss issues of equity, career development, and work-life balance.

The group is the brainchild of Patricia Lima, adjunct assistant professor in the Queen’s Cardiopulmonary Unit (QCPU), who was looking to help other women as they explore and build upon their careers at Queen’s while at the same time helping foster equity within science.

Initially uncertain of the response she would receive, Dr. Lima, says the support she has received throughout the process – from her supervisor Dr. Stephen Archer to the Human Rights and Equity Office – has been extremely encouraging.

Driven to help others, Dr. Lima, who also happens to be a volunteer firefighter, set up the group to help women in various stages of their science careers at Queen’s feel empowered while also connecting them with available resources.

“The idea was to have a discussion group where we would meet on a monthly basis with the objective of motivating, encouraging, and supporting women in science or research-related careers at Queen’s,” she says. “What I had in my mind was, first, it had to be an open environment; second, although it is a women’s group, everybody should feel welcome, friendly; and third is that it should be a mentored environment.”

Other goals include promoting discussions about gender bias in science; incentivizing the active participation and leadership of women; and establishing a visible, equitable, diverse and inclusive community promoting the development and retention of women across all scientific disciplines.

“The collaborative approach that has been taken in creating WiSQ is very encouraging and their initial success shows what can happen when someone or a team takes the initiative to make a difference at the university,” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “Through the support of ERGs Queen’s continues to build a campus that embraces diversity and empower all members of our community to thrive.”

Previous to her arrival at Queen’s, Dr. Lima had participated in a similar group as a post-doc at University of Ottawa. She found that the support came at an important time in her career and she wanted to bring that opportunity to others at Queen’s.

Her chance to make a difference arrived during a performance review at QCPU with Dr. Archer.

“During the performance review, Dr. Archer asked what I thought could make the work environment better. When he asked that I could not resist,” Dr. Lima recalls. “I explained the idea and I said that I was willing to step up to lead this. He loved the idea and green-lighted it.”

As a follow-up, Dr. Lima then met with Equity Advisor Heidi Penning who provided direction on how to get the ERG up and running as well as some further encouragement.

“That changed a lot of things inside me,” Dr. Lima says. “I left her office and, I know that this is just a small group, but I had the feeling that I could change the world.”

Over the next month Dr. Lima focused on recruiting an organizational team with a range backgrounds and skills, including staff, students and faculty members, to ensure a diversity of viewpoints and experiences.

Currently, the WiSQ team includes: Dr. Kimberly Dunham-Snary, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Medicine; Dr. Tiziana Cotechini, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Science; Dr. Elahe Alizadeh, scientist at QCPU, Whitney Montgomery, operations manager at the QCPU; and faculty advisor Dr. Caroline F. Pukall, a professor at the Department of Psychology and Biomedical and Molecular Sciences).

“WiSQ would not be here if we did not have this great group of committed and motivating women,” Dr. Lima says.

A series of five meetings, featuring guest speakers or discussion groups, were held over the winter term and another five are set for the fall term.

At the midway point, Dr. Lima is encouraged by the response.

“I really do think it is helping. It is reaching more people than I expected,” she says. “It’s independent of gender. We don’t have only women attending. What I hoped would happen with the group is happening. You have students, you have staff, you have faculty members in the same room discussing life matters, discussing how to become better, how to be more competitive, how to deal with transition situations, how to promote retention of women at Queen’s. I think that is pretty special, to be able to put those people together.”

The Employee Resource Groups initiative was developed as a way to promote the career development of equity seeking groups on campus. The first group, Queen’s Women’s Network – previously known as Young Women at Queen’s – was launched in 2015 and continues to play an important role at the university.

Contact WiSQ by email to learn more about the group or to become a member.

Research institute receives critical funding

The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research receives $25 million over 10 years to facilitate veteran research.

  • [CIMVHR funding announcement]
    A total of $25 million in funding was announced for the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research. From left: Rosemary Park, Servicewomen’s Salute – Hommage aux Femmes Militaires Canada Lead; David Pedlar, Scientific Director, CIMVHR; Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence; Walter Natynczyk, former Chief of the Defence Staff; Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane; Harry Kowal, Principal, Royal Military College of Canada; Yvonne Cooper, Executive Director, CIMVHR. (University Communications)
  • [CIMVHR funding announcement]
    Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence Lawrence MacAulay speaks about the important role that CIMVHR plays for military members and veterans. (University Communications)
  • [CIMVHR funding announcement]
    Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane speaks during the funding announcement for CIMVHR at Mitchell Hall on Wednesday, July 10. (University Communications)
  • [CIMVHR funding announcement]
    CIMVHR Scientific Director David Pedlar speaks about the importance of the research and partnerships for CIMVHR during the funding announcement at Mitchell Hall. (University Communications)

The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) and Queen’s University welcomed the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, to campus on Wednesday, where he announced a $25 million investment over 10 years to support the institution’s research activities.

“Queen’s is pleased to see the Government of Canada commit long-term operational funding for CIMVHR – allowing the institute to continue its important research and knowledge translation aimed at improving health outcomes for Canada’s veterans and their families,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “The university has long been supportive of the institute’s goals and objectives.”

Minister MacAulay also announced $250,000 in funding from the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund to create a Servicewomen’s Salute Online Portal for Research and Resources. Queen’s Professor Allan English (History) is heading up the program and the new funding will flow through the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy.

“Meeting the health needs of those who served in Canada’s armed forces depends on access to leading scientific research in the military and veteran health field,” says Minister MacAulay. “Queen’s University has been an invaluable asset to our veteran community in this regard, both in terms of the work they’ve done for CIMVHR and Servicewomen’s Salute. Continued collaboration between all stakeholders in this area benefits not only military members, veterans and their families — but Canada as a whole.”

Founded in 2010 as a partnership between researchers at Queen’s and the Royal Military College of Canada, CIMVHR at Queen’s has built a network of 45 Canadian universities that are working together to address the health research requirements of the Canadian military, veterans, and their families. To date, CIMVHR has funded 78 projects aimed at advancing the health of military personnel, veterans, and their families.

“Multi-institution partnerships – such as CIMVHR – bring together leading researchers from across Canada and around the globe to address some of our most pressing challenges,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “These partnerships are incredibly valuable and add another dimension to critical research projects. Queen’s is proud to play a part in these valuable partnerships.”

Funding for CIMVHR was proposed as part of a larger push for veteran-centric research in the federal Budget 2019 announcement.

“CIMVHR has worked tirelessly to build a collaborative network between academia, government, industry and philanthropy to advance research in the area of military, veteran and family health and wellbeing,” says David Pedlar, Scientific Director, CIMVHR. “Recognizing the importance of research and the impact it has on those who so selflessly serve, and their families, this Government of Canada funding will continue to strengthen the foundation for CIMVHR to continue leading the way for the next ten years. We are honoured to continue serving those who serve us.”

As for the new Servicewomen’s Salute online portal, the five-year project is designed to support female veterans and still-serving members transitioning out of the Canadian military to live in Canadian communities.

“Research has shown that one in four Canadian Armed Forces members will have trouble transitioning from military to civilian life—this is particularly true for women in uniform,” says Dr. English, Associate Professor, Department of History, and Lieutenant-Commander (Ret’d) Rosemary Park, MSc CD Servicewomen’s Salute – Hommage aux Femmes Militaires Canada Lead. “A robust and customized research and community resource of information, research, support, and engagement for Canadian military women would help servicewomen navigate their transitions more easily.”

Research done by CIMVHR is used by departmental decision and policy makers, program planners, health managers, clinicians, and other stakeholders as they support the physical, mental, and social health of veterans and their families.

For more information visit the CIMVHR website.

Champion of health research steps down

Roger Deeley is stepping down down from his combined roles of Vice President, Health Sciences Research, Kingston Health Sciences Centre; President and CEO, KGH Research Institute; and Vice-Dean, Research, Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

Roger Deeley. Photo by Matt Manor/KHSC

Dr. Deeley arrived at Queen’s University in 1980 from the U.S. National Cancer Institute. In the nearly 40 years since then he has played a leading role in transforming the health research landscape at Queen’s and partnering research hospitals. 

Away from his many administrative roles Dr. Deeley is a world-renowned cancer biologist. A former Stauffer Chair at Queen’s, Dr. Deeley published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. Since his arrival at Queen’s he has maintained a highly successful research career studying mechanisms of resistance to cancer therapeutics.

In 2005 he received the Robert L. Noble Prize presented by the National Cancer Institute of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society and in 2007 received a National Cancer Institute of Canada’s Diamond Jubilee Award, both for outstanding contributions to cancer research. In 2014 he was appointed to the Royal Society of Canada.

To learn more about Dr. Deeley and his contributions to Queen’s read this blog written by Dr. Richard Reznick, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences.

Jennifer Medves steps down after second term as Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) and Director, School of Nursing

Jennifer Medves has stepped down from her position as Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) and Director, School of Nursing, as of July 1, 2019.

Dr. Medves provided leadership for the Faculty of Health Sciences and the School of Nursing for the past 10 years, over two five-year terms.

To learn more about Dr. Medves and her contributions to Queen’s, Health Science, and the School of Nursing, read this blog written by Dr. Richard Reznick, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences.

Succeeding Dr. Medves in the roles of Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) and Director, School of Nursing, is Erna Snelgrove-Clarke, who arrives at Queen’s from Dalhousie University.


Working Toward Inclusion: Listening to LGBTQI2S+ Student Voices in Medicine

David Messenger is an emergency and intensive care physician and head of the Department of Emergency Medicine.

This guest blog, written by Dr. David Messenger, an emergency and intensive care physician and head of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Queen’s University, was first published on the Faculty of Health Sciences Dean’s Blog.

Recently, I took part in a panel discussion organized by Queen’s medical students. A small group of faculty and resident physicians came together to speak about our individual experiences as LGBTQI2S+ persons in medical school, residency training and early practice. As the oldest panelist, I looked forward to learning how different becoming an LGBTQI2S+ doctor must be now compared to my own experience. 

When I started medical school at Queen’s in 1998, the landscape looked much different than it does today. Sexual orientation had only just been added to the Canadian Human Rights Act; same-sex marriage rights were still seven years away. At 21, I had yet to come out to my family and many friends, and I had just started my first gay relationship (with my now-husband). I was keenly aware of a need to tread very carefully as I took my first tentative steps out of a meticulously-constructed closet.

As a gay medical student, I felt relatively isolated. Rather than seek community with the tiny group of visible LGBTQI2S+ med students, I avoided associations that might result in my being “outed”. I felt certain that coming out would be a liability to any number of my ambitions in medicine, particularly matching to a competitive specialty residency program. I worried about how I’d be viewed and treated by preceptors, colleagues, and by patients if I presented as anything other than the norm that was modeled for me in medicine. Gay clinical faculty exemplars or mentors? None were visible to me through my decade of training at Queen’s. Normalization of LGBTQI2S+ patients in the curriculum? Other than being taught to ask “do you have sex with men, women, or both?” when taking a sexual history, and discussions about gay patients in the context of HIV, I don’t recall much explicit reassurance that medicine welcomed the inclusion of the LGBTQI2S+ experience in its ranks.

Despite a sense of isolation, my actual lived experience at Queen’s has been mostly positive. My coming out has been a gradual and continuing experience that started during residency. I feel immensely grateful for the acceptance and support that I’ve received from many peers and mentors here who have proved to be committed allies as I’ve become more open with my identity. But my experience has always felt more like good luck than it has deliberate institutional culture.

Two decades later, it’s clear that much has changed. Listening to the contemporary stories and experiences of my co-panelists and others revealed that LGBTQI2S+ students are more comfortable living that identity openly among their peers today. A more visible and supportive LGBTQI2S+ medical student community exists for those who seek it out. This community is finding a voice that is helping to promote the inclusion of more diversity in the curriculum.

But, even now, LGBTQI2S+ students describe considerable apprehension about if and how to be themselves when applying for residency training. They search for subtle signals during electives and interviews that prospective programs are safe to join. They consider redacting their CVs to exclude activities that brand them as “too political” (code for “too gay”). They speak of ruling out entire disciplines from their career choices because of worry that as LGBTQI2S+, they won’t fit with the culture of the specialty. Despite unique individual experiences, many learners describe being victim to assumptions, misunderstandings, and a hidden curriculum that can make them feel like outsiders within their disciplines. And finally, they expose an ongoing scarcity of accessible and visible LGBTQI2S+ mentors and role models within Queen’s Medicine.

June is Pride month – among other things, a celebration of diversity. At Queen’s, we often discuss a need to foster diversity and inclusion in medicine, but the stories of our LGBTQI2S+ students and trainees bring to light how much work remains for diversity and inclusion to become lived values.

An inclusive medical school welcomes and normalizes as many different populations of students as possible. An inclusive medical school does not explicitly or implicitly marginalize people or label them as “other”, including the patients our graduates will go on to care for. As one of a small number of gay faculty members in a position of leadership, my visibility and accessibility to students is an important contribution I can make to help us be a more inclusive community. I have a tendency to shelter behind my ability to visibly “blend into the crowd” and to obscure my identity – some habits die hard – and that tendency might be sending the wrong message to my students and colleagues.

Change begins with recognition. We all need to pay attention to the stories of LGBTQI2S+ students, stories as diverse as the individuals who tell them. We can and must do better as allies, and this starts by listening to, learning from, and advocating for our students and colleagues’ experiences in medicine at Queen’s.

Leaders in their fields garner competitive research chairs

Three new Canada Research Chairs emphasize commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

Queen’s University welcomed three new and eight renewed Canada Research Chairs as part of the Government of Canada’s recent announcement of a diverse group of Canada Research Chairs.

Announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sports, the investment of $275 million for 346 Canada Research Chairs across Canada builds on the minister’s vision for an equitable, diverse, and inclusive research community. The most recent competition results are 47 per cent women, 22 per cent visible minorities, five per cent persons with disabilities, and four per cent Indigenous peoples.

The new chairs include two current faculty members: Heather Aldersey (Rehabilitation Therapy), Canada Research Chair in Disability-Inclusive Development (Tier 2), and Lindsay Morcom (Education), Canada Research Chair in Language Revitalization and Decolonizing Education (Tier 2). Anna Panchenko (Pathology and Molecular Medicine), Canada Research Chair in Computational Biology and Biophysics (Tier 1), will join Queen's as of July 1.

Tier 1 Chairs are recognized by their peers as world leaders in their respective fields, while Tier 2 Chairs are recognized as emerging leaders in their research areas. Queen’s will receive $200,000 per year over seven years for each Tier 1 Chair and $100,000 per year over five years for each Tier 2 Chair.

“Canada’s advancement as a world leader in discovery and innovation has been greatly influenced by the CRC program, which supports talented researchers while fostering an inclusive research community,” Dr. Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Our success in garnering three new chairs and a number of renewals is demonstrative of Queen’s leading research, addressing complex issues both domestically and internationally.”

The three new Canada Research Chairs at Queen’s will focus on topics critical to Canadians and global citizens, including families affected by disability, the causes of cancer, and Indigenous education.

Dr. Aldersey’s research identifies needs of families affected by disability, then develops and evaluates supports available to meet those needs, with a focus on populations in low- and middle-income countries.

“I am so excited for the opportunities that this Canada Research Chair will provide,” says Dr. Aldersey. “This chair will enable me to expand my research with people with disabilities, their families, and their communities to promote disability-inclusive community development globally. I will also be able to support more research trainees who are passionate about inclusion in their own communities, and engage with key stakeholders to identify strengths-based, culturally relevant, and solutions-driven action for human rights and inclusion.”   

Building on current on-reserve and urban research on language revitalization, Dr. Morcom will work in partnership with Indigenous communities to develop best practices for education and language planning.

"I’m especially proud to be named the Canada Research Chair in Language Revitalization and Decolonizing Education in 2019 because the United Nations has declared this to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages,” says Dr. Morcom. “All Indigenous languages in Canada are either vulnerable or endangered, but there is a tremendous amount being done within Indigenous communities and in partnership with external institutions to revitalize them. I am grateful to be able to use this position to contribute to those efforts and help make sure our languages survive and are passed on to generations yet to come.”

Dr. Panchenko is working to identify the causes of cancer progression and to find out what factors can contribute to cancer mutation occurrence in DNA.

In addition to the three new chairs, also announced last week were eight chair renewals for Queen’s University:

  • P. Andrew Evans - Canada Research Chair in Organic and Organometallic Chemistry – Tier 1
  • Mark Rosenberg - Canada Research Chair in Development Studies – Tier 1
  • Christopher Booth - Canada Research Chair in Population Cancer Care – Tier 2
  • Ahmed Hassan - Canada Research Chair in Software Analytics – Tier 2
  • Jeffrey Masuda - Canada Research Chair in Environmental Health Equity – Tier 2
  • Jordan Poppenk - Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience – Tier 2
  • William Take - Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical Engineering – Tier 2
  • Ying Zou - Canada Research Chair in Software Evolution – Tier 2

For more information, visit the website.

Rethinking the way that we create positive spaces for our LGBTQI2S+ patients

Kathryn Allwright
In her research, Kathryn Allwright, right, seen here during convocation with Katie Goldie, Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing, looked into how humility can be more effective than competency in making positive health care spaces for people from LGBTQI2S+ community. (Supplied Photo)

This article was first published on the Faculty of Health Sciences Dean’s Blog.

We live in an era where it is increasingly important for health care practitioners to create safe spaces for their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, intersex and two-spirit (LGBTQI2S+) patients.

Discrimination and marginalization are huge barriers to healthcare for people of diverse sexual or gender identities. Not feeling welcome or understood hinders the therapeutic relationship and affects how people access care, or whether they access care at all. And we know that working towards positive spaces is a way to foster safer health care environments for patients from LGBTQI2S+ communities; studies confirm this again and again.

So how do we create those positive spaces for both practitioners and patients? The traditional approach is through cultural competency training. The tools in such training focus on the provider developing a set of attitudes, knowledge, and skills that will support them in caring for and showing respect for clients of different cultures.

And yet even for the most well-meaning, creating those safe spaces and experiences isn’t as simple as relying on knowledge gained from prior trainings, such as an introduction to LGBTQI2S+ terminology.  

Kathryn Allwright, who recently graduated from Queen’s Master of Nursing Science (MNSc), explored this simple yet striking nuance: humility can be more effective than competency in making positive health care spaces for people from LGBTQI2S+ community.

According to Kathryn and her research, humility requires a different approach than competency.

Rather than aiming to have health care practitioners ‘know’ the issues and concerns faced by their colleagues and patients from LGBTQI2S+ communities, humility aims to have practitioners understand that knowing is a process, rather than a destination. Each person has a unique lived experience; if we can resist assumptions and instead seek to understand each individual and their unique situation, we can shift to a state of constant learning -- and act accordingly.

Exactly how humility might be embedded into nursing practice was the focus of Kathryn’s thesis. In her initial research, Kathryn found literature demonstrating that public health nurses could make public health unit spaces safer for sexually and/or gender diverse people through a cultural humility approach. However, she found something was missing. There was no way to measure this. Public health nurses needed to be able to assess whether they were in fact using a cultural humility approach and creating positive spaces.

So, she set out to validate the effectiveness of existing self and workplace assessment tools made available by the Ontario Public Health Association. “Despite these tools being used in practice, I was unable to find any psychometric testing to support that these were valid and reliable measures for positive spaces,” Kathryn explained.

In the end, Kathryn set her sights on testing modified version of the tools that reflected cultural humility rather than competence “A cultural humility approach encompasses critical self-reflection, a commitment to lifelong learning, and a recognition of power imbalances. It was important to ensure that these components were reflected in the positive space tools” Kathryn shared. Her work yielded a 40-item self-assessment tool with 15 underlying dimensions and a 38-item workplace tool with 10 underlying dimensions.

“This Exploratory Factor Analysis is a step in the direction toward having validated and reliable tools,” Kathryn said. The next step is testing the tools with different samples to assess generalizability of the results.”

Although Kathryn has now graduated, this won’t be the end of her work on LGBTQI2S+ healthcare topics. Kathryn, alongside project partners, have launched a podcast series on trans health care topics called TransForming Rounds. You can find all episodes of TransForming Rounds.

Seeing the important work that Kathryn is doing to support diversity and inclusion is not just inspiring but brave and thought-provoking. I hope that it inspires those of you reading – whether you are a nurse, doctor, rehabilitation therapist, trainee, staff member or working outside the healthcare field altogether.

How are you incorporating humility and the idea of building safe spaces into the work that you do? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Or better yet, please stop by the Macklem House: my door is always open.

Queen’s University offers positive space training through its Positive Space Program. Find out more at: queensu.ca/positivespace.

Museum of Anatomy open house June 15

The Museum of Anatomy at the Queen’s School of Medicine will open its doors to the public for free tours during its annual open house on Saturday June 15.

Each year, hundreds of students from Queen’s and nearby high schools use the materials in the museum to learn about the structure of the human body. The open house will make this same educational experience available to anyone who is interested.

Visitors must register for tours ahead of time, as space is limited. The first tour begins at 9:20 am.

At the museum, visitors will be able to view the large collection of anatomical objects that Queen’s has collected over several decades. Organized by anatomical regions, the museum contains multiple samples of almost all parts of the human body.

Most of the objects are displayed in jars filled with a preservative fluid, but some have been plastinated. These items, including a number of hearts and bones, can sit out in the air and are able to be touched. By feeling the specimens and turning them over in their hands, students often notice details that are difficult to observe otherwise.

At past open houses, according to Dr. Leslie MacKenzie, Director of the Pattern II M.Sc. program in Anatomical Sciences, visitors have expressed their enthusiasm for the chance to have such an in-depth and detailed look at the human body. Some visitors have been so moved that they have gone on to volunteer for the Human Body Donor Program. All the anatomical specimens on display at the museum are collected from donors who chose to donate their remains to Queen’s. These donations are incredibly meaningful gifts to the school and help us fulfill our research and educational goals. To show respect for the people who have donated their bodies, Queen’s holds a burial service each spring at the Cataraqui Cemetery. The families of the donors are invited to attend.

Faculty members and graduate students from Queen’s will be in the museum on June 15 to introduce people to the space, guide them, and answer any questions they might have about the collection. 


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