By Amanda Boundris
Michelle Freeman, who earned her PhD in nursing from McMaster earlier this year, has received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Communicating Graduate Research from the School of Graduate Studies.
Each year the award is presented to three to six researchers who have demonstrated excellence in their ability to communicate the results and importance of research to a non-specialist audience. Freeman received the award at a reception on October 19.
"I am certainly honoured to have the work that I have done to communicate my research recognized," said Freeman, who is currently an assistant professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Windsor.
The focus of her research was on nurse migration, specifically the migration intentions of nurse graduates in a Canadian border city in southwestern Ontario.
"Little is known about the migration intentions of graduating nursing students in general, and border city graduates in particular," said Freeman. "The causes and impact of nurse migration have been described and debated extensively in the literature, but there has been limited primary research on the topic and there is a critical need for more research to guide practice and policy."
Freeman’s PhD supervisor, Andrea Baumann, added: "This study provides insight into the cross border workforces that have implications for employment in border city areas. This is an area where little is known and yet the information is critical to Canadian employment patterns."
Freeman said it was important to share her findings nationally and internationally.
To accomplish this goal, she published her work in three highly regarded nursing journals: Journal of International Nursing Studies; Journal of Advanced Nursing; and Applied Nursing Research. She has also given numerous presentations.
She described using a variety of strategies to increase the interest of non-specialist audiences in her research. For example, rather than using complex tables to display findings, she uses bar charts. "Non specialists can quickly see the significance of the findings. The approach I use depends on the audience," explained Freeman.
Solid research methodology and communication of research results are critical for spreading findings broadly and for obtaining future research funding.
"Communication of research findings is essential. The information provides evidence that provides the background for policy setting," said Baumann, who is also McMaster’s associate vice-president of Global Health and scientific director of the Nursing Health Services Research Unit’s (NHSRU) McMaster site.