June 3, 2021
Class of 2021: Let the knowledge translation countdown begin
Dr. Rosmin Esmail’s research involves creating a synergy between the fields of health technology reassessment (HTR) — where tools such as drugs, medical devices and diagnostic tests are reassessed for optimal use — and knowledge translation (KT).
Her PhD, which she received in February, focused on how KT approaches are used to translate HTR outputs to achieve the desired outcomes, bridging the gap between what people know they should be doing in practice, versus what they are actually doing.
If Esmail could describe the journey to her PhD in Health Services Research, she would use a countdown: six, five, four, three, two, one.
She says using a countdown to describe her PhD is KT in action: using infographics, numerics or other creative ways to deliver a message is a way to make it more memorable.
“I’d be remiss if I wasn’t able to tell my story in a way that I could make it stick,” Esmail says.
Esmail gave six presentations on her research at provincial, national and international conferences during her PhD. She says she got a very positive reaction from her peers at these conferences, as they had not thought to bring these two fields together.
“The reassessment community really didn’t think about using knowledge translation, and the knowledge translation folks didn’t understand the process of health technology reassessment,” she says.
In her five years working on her PhD, Esmail also held professional roles in health care. For the first two years, she worked as a director in health technology assessment and adoption for Alberta Health Services (AHS), leading a support team for the Strategic Clinical Networks. Esmail says working full-time and attending school was a lot to undertake, so she changed positions to a part-time role as the provincial trauma epidemiologist.
Esmail manages the Alberta Trauma Registry, which collects more than 300 data elements of major-trauma patients across the province.
Esmail’s work was pivotal in getting AHS the Distinction certification in the trauma field from Accreditation Canada in fall 2019, the first time in Canada’s history that a provincial health body has received it.
“Managing my trauma role and working on my PhD at the same time was challenging, but exciting, as it kept me grounded,” she says.
Esmail won four awards through the university: the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Doctoral Scholarship, Graduate Studies Doctoral Scholarship, Calgary Achievers in Medical Science Award and the Alberta Innovates Graduate Studentship.
“I’m truly humbled to be able to be recognized as a student, both academically and professionally, with these distinctions,” she says.
Esmail has published three articles related to her PhD topic in top journals. She says getting a PhD had always been a personal goal of hers, so publishing and sharing her knowledge was an added bonus.
“It’s the icing on top of the cake to be able to translate and share my work academically,” she says, adding writing is one of the skills she has improved upon the most during her PhD.
Esmail participated in two social media interviews at KT conferences. She says she volunteered to do the interviews because it was something different.
Esmail was initially hesitant about how these interviews would go, but found they became easier once she started because of how passionate she is about her research.
Esmail completed her PhD dissertation on Oct. 14, 2020, with no revisions defended.
“No matter how long it takes, if you’re persistent, tenacious and hard-working, you can achieve your educational goals,” Esmail says. “The one thing no one can take away from you is your education, as your degrees will always be with you.”