AGHE PhD Student Story
Written By: Lynn Haslam-Larmer
Lynn worked as an acute care nurse practitioner in a large tertiary care centre in Toronto for over 15 years, but was looking for the ‘next step’ in her career. She heard about the PhD in Aging & Health at Queen’s, and it seemed to be the right fit at the right time. She was one of the inaugural students when the PhD program opened in 2016, and is now embarking on her fourth year of the program.
The PhD Aging & Health program is one of the newer offerings, based in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy but interdisciplinary in nature with contributions from other schools and departments inside and outside of the Faculty of Health Sciences. The program is designed for people, like Lynn, who may already have begun careers in research, social services or health care but want to develop their skills in order to take on bigger challenges and larger responsibilities.
The blended format of the PhD in Aging and Health program has enabled Lynn to balance her doctoral studies with her work and personal commitments. As well as completing the core course requirements of the program, Lynn has taken full advantage of the comprehensive online electives available to students by taking courses in Ethics and Bioethics of Aging, Qualitative Research Methods and Statistical Methods for Aging Research. Lynn feels that the knowledge and skills gained from the PhD program coursework and comprehensive examination provided her with a strong foundation to develop her thesis.
At this point in the PhD program, Lynn is using her knowledge and skills related to different methodologies, and is applying them to answer meaningful questions. Her qualitative interviews with patients have provided her with many insights. ‘I love to hear the older adult patient tell their perspective on hospital based care – there are key messages that all health care providers need to hear’. Lynn gives a lot of credit to her supervisor, Dr. Vincent DePaul, for supporting her interest in older adults experiencing hip fracture and mobility limitations while in hospital. His experience as a physiotherapist with stroke patients meant that they were a good match right from the start. Dr. Kevin Woo of the School of Nursing has also contributed to supervising Lynn's work. For her dissertation, she is conducting a mixed-methods study that examines how an institution has implemented best practice recommendations for early mobility of people after a fragility hip fracture.
Lynn’s goal after she completes her doctorate is to become a clinical research leader and advance care for older adults. She hopes to use her findings about how to implement best practice recommendations in one context to enhance the implementation of other best practices across a multitude of settings. Over her career, she has seen many recommendations published, and realizes there is often an evidence-to-practice gap. Her clinical experience has motivated her to look at how we can work to improve the uptake of evidence by health care providers. Upon completion of her PhD in Aging & Health, Lynn will be well equipped to pursue that motivation and contribute to enhanced health care for older adults in Canada.