If you had suggested to me that I might become a health researcher in medical school, I would have looked at you dumbfounded, and secretly wondered whether you were on crack. I had found bench research as an undergraduate nothing short of boring, and preferred to go skiing rather than to attend teaching sessions in Epidemiology during medical school. In my trajectory from a rather absent-minded and somewhat unfocused medical trainee to becoming a (still somewhat absent-minded) health researcher in emergency medicine, the CAEP research grant was pivotal (Compliance with Emergency Department Discharge Prescriptions) (2005). It provided me with a small but essential amount of infrastructure support that I required to complete the first of a series of studies that sparked my interest in health research. I would not have been able to attract funding from another organization at that early stage in my training, and would have struggled to attract larger grants from other organizations without showing successful completion of a smaller study with the start-up funds provided by CAEP.
Today, I work clinical shifts at Vancouver General Hospital, am an Assistant Professor in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Emergency Medicine, and a Scientist at the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation. My main research interests are in emergency medicine, drug safety and effectiveness, adverse drug event surveillance, and the development of interventions to improve the identification and treatment of patients presenting to emergency departments with adverse drug events. I am presently working on the development, validation and implementation of clinical decision rules to increase adverse drug event recognition and treatment in the emergency department, by enabling triage nurses to identify high-risk patients and refer them to clinical pharmacists for evaluation. I also work on projects in rapid sequence intubation, subarachnoid hemorrhage, transient ischemic attacks and atrial fibrillation. In 2012, I was awarded a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
I look forward to contributing to our profession by attempting to facilitate the evaluation of complex medical and geriatric patients in emergency departments through my continued work on adverse drug events. I hope to find ways to target specialized resources to this patient population. My hope is that this will increase the quality of care than Canadians receive in emergency departments and improve patient outcomes, reduce cost, and enhance our professional role and job satisfaction when encountering these complex and sometimes challenging patients.
I am indebted to the members of CAEP for having entrusted me with a start-up grant. It opened my eyes to a new career path and a field of investigation I would otherwise not have chosen. I hope that this tradition will continue for the younger and brighter minds that follow!
Photo courtesy of Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI)