BSN Summer Student Research Program

The objective of this program is to strengthen nursing research capacity by providing research training opportunities for undergraduate nursing students at UBC-Vancouver. 

Undergraduate research studentships are available to BSN students at the UBC School of Nursing. Selected students will be awarded a 4-week, full-time studentship in August 2020, and will receive a $2,000 stipend. To be considered, students must be full-time students in the UBC BSN program.

Interested UBC BSN students are asked to email their resumé, cover letter, and THREE preferred projects by March 9, 2020.  THIS OPPORTUNITY IS NOW CLOSED.



Depression and heart disease: Promoting awareness, screening and intervention across the continuum of care Supervisor: Dr. Martha Mackay

Research Description: The overall purpose of our initiative is to improve care for cardiac patients who are experiencing depression. We will do this by increasing awareness among PCPs’ (FPs and nurse practitioners [NPs]) across British Columbia of the risk that depression confers upon cardiac patients, devising ways to effectively communicate the depression status of hospitalized cardiac patients to their PCP and creating simple information resources.
Our proposed work will facilitate PCPs’ consistent use of the strong evidence that depression worsens cardiac patients’ outcomes cardiac patients, by putting clear and accessible tools at their fingertips. We will develop a “Depression and Heart Disease Kit” of resources for PCPs caring for heart disease patients with co-morbid depression, which will be a collection of existing and new resources. Using an iterative process, we will refine it with input from the end-users (FPs and NPs). Once finalized, we will post it on the “Pathways” website, which is a resource for PCPs that makes available hundreds of categorized and searchable patient and physician/NP resources.

Specifically, our work will 1) identify PCPs’ perceived barriers to providing depression care for those patients; 2) operationalize and refine a solution to communicate depression status of recently hospitalized cardiac patients to their PCPs, informed by previous focus groups; 3) create and deploy web-based learning and treatment-option resources for PCPs and 4) begin dissemination of our depression-screening protocol to cardiac health professionals across BC.

Role of the Student: Customizing the message will be the main aim in developing our patient and PCP communication tools. The student will be the primary liaison with a graphic designer to develop infographics for this purpose. With supervision, she will communicate the concepts we wish to translate into graphic form, present drafts to the team and negotiate with the designer for revisions. Development of a learning module for PCPs, handouts and literature inventories will also offer great experience in crafting targeted messages.

The student will gain experience in development of indicators and evaluation measures. S/he/they will be tasked with developing surveys to be administered to PCPs and will also have an opportunity to do basic analyses of the survey data. Finally, s/he/they will have the opportunity to take part in PDSA cycles as we refine our communication process, by collating feedback from PCPs and acute care staff.

‘Nurturing their Own’ or ‘Eating their Young’? Fostering students’ capacity to address nurse bullying behaviors  Supervisor: Kathy O'Flynn-Magee

Research Description: The goal of the TLEF-funded project entitled ‘Nurturing their Own’ or ‘Eating their Young’? Fostering Students’ capacity to address Nurse Bullying Behaviors’ is to create sustainable resources for the use of creative and innovative teaching and learning approaches to address bullying in nursing education. Arts-based methods such as Forum Theatre are acknowledged in the literature as dynamic and effective approaches to use in the classroom for addressing topics such as communication, bullying, power, status, and conflict (Middlewick, Kettle & Wilson, 2012; Taylor & Taylor, 2017).

For this educational scholarship project, a group of faculty, students, and artist partners have designed a graphic novella to be released within the next month or so. We are just beginning to develop a ‘Train-the-Trainer’ open access video to showcase how to create Forum Theatre, and to explore the roles of facilitator (known as ‘joker’2 in Forum Theatre) and actors. Following its completion (early Summer) we will create a ‘choose your own adventure’ series of vignettes for students and teachers to engage in an interactive experience related to bullying situations. We will draw on the thespian skills of a now-graduated student, Agnes Choi for the train-the-trainer movie. In 2018, as part of the BSN Summer Student Research Award, Agnes worked on the ‘CRAB’ project and remains interested and willing to engage in this work.  

The resources will have open access and their wide availability will allow for curricular use with students and professional development use with faculty and clinical instructors. Dr. Tom Scholte, professor UBC department of theatre and film is the project’s theatre expert and is heavily involved in all aspects of forum theatre
performances, movie creation and ‘choose your own adventure’ vignettes.

Role of the Student: In keeping with the student-initiated and student-partnered approach to all aspects of this project, and given that students currently involved as UAAs will graduate in May 2020, we are very committed to ensuring ongoing undergraduate student involvement. The 2020 BSN Summer Student Research Award would allow us to fulfill this commitment and give a BSN student the opportunity to engage in educational scholarship/research that is geared towards making a difference in the lives of students and the culture of Nursing. The role of the student could include any of the following:

  • Literature review related to any aspects of the project;
  • Provide technical and logistical support;
  • Attend educational scholarship/research team meetings;
  • Participate in qualitative data analysis, as needed;
  • Support the processes required for the creation of sustainable resources
  • Contribute to, and co-author, manuscript and dissemination of findings.

If successful, the student will be welcomed as an educational scholarship/research team member and mentored in the various roles assigned.

Building Capacity for Meaningful Engagement of People Living with Dementia  Supervisor: Dr. Alison Phinney

Research Description: This is a PHAC funded (2019-2023) collaborative community-based research project, to develop community capacity to foster meaningful social participation by people living with dementia.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada recently spearheaded the Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia, which highlights their right to have opportunities for engagement in the community and to be involved in developing the policies and programs that allow this to happen. At the same time, there are growing numbers of innovative initiatives across the country that are supporting advocacy, social engagement and well-being for people living with dementia (PLWD) and their family/friend caregivers. But how this kind of community level change is happening and what it takes to build and sustain it is poorly understood.

This project addresses this question by bringing together researchers and community members to learn how an asset-based community development approach can foster inclusion. By creating meaningful opportunities for PLWD to remain active and connected in their communities, PLWD will have opportunity to reinvest in a new life after a dementia diagnosis and live well with the condition, and at a broader social level the aim is to lessen the stigma currently associated with dementia. The project will take place in BC (Vancouver) and Ontario (Thunder Bay) where researchers will collaborate with PLWD and non-profit organizations and public agencies offering seniors programs through three specific objectives:

  1. implement an asset-based community development approach to adapt and create community programs and services that are meaningful and inclusive for PLWD.
  2. conduct a developmental evaluation that will allow us to learn along the way how to best support the growth and integration of programs and services that are meaningful and inclusive for PLWD.
  3. disseminate what we learn from this project to increase awareness and support communities in their sustained efforts to create opportunities for meaningful participation by PLWD.

Role of the Student: The student will assist with one or more of the following research activities.

  1. Communication support for a growing network of community partners at the Vancouver site. This may include helping to strategise and develop effective communication tools to disseminate ongoing project results.
  2. Evaluation support to assist with the ongoing development and implementation of the project’s evaluation framework. This may include meeting with community partners to discuss their program needs, surveying existing literature for effective tools, and proposing solutions.
  3. Data management support to assist with project documentation and organization of diverse qualitative and quantitative data in preparation for subsequent analysis. This may include preparation of project files, communication with team members, and developing effective IT solutions.
Reducing Stigma and Promoting Social Inclusion of People with Dementia: Putting Social Citizenship into Practice  Supervisor: Dr. Alison Phinney

Research Description: Reducing Stigma and Promoting Social Inclusion of People with Dementia is a CIHR funded project (2019-2023) that brings together people living with dementia, researchers (UBC, SFU, and Lakehead University), and community partners.

People with dementia face devastating stigma and social exclusion. The research purpose is to develop a set of principles and guidelines for communities to reduce stigma and promote social inclusion of people with dementia thereby supporting their health and well-being. Social citizenship has been defined as “a relationship, practice or status in which the person with dementia is entitled to experience freedom from discrimination, and to have opportunities to grow and participate in life to the fullest extent possible.’ This concept has been used to address problems of stigma and exclusion in dementia, but there is little research applying these ideas.

A broad purpose of the project is to learn how to reduce stigma and promote social connections for people who live with dementia or memory impairment. The study is guided by two research questions: (1) what does social citizenship mean for people with dementia themselves? and (2) how can it be put into practice to empower and improve the lives of people with dementia? Recognizing that community programs offer an important real-world context for addressing stigma and social exclusion we are address two specific objectives: (1) develop a more refined and practical understanding of social citizenship by building on the lived experiences of people with dementia; and (2) explain and demonstrate how community programs can support social citizenship of people with dementia.

To achieve above objectives, the study engages an Action Group of people with dementia to work in collaboration with academic researchers and community partners. The Action Group members have been meeting monthly to identify and discuss key issues that impact people living with dementia at the personal, organizational and social levels. Themes that are emerging from the Action Group discussions will be further explored through the focus groups with minority ethnic and rural communities. Over spring and summer 2020, the collaborators will plan and facilitate a series of on-line and face to face focus groups with targeted groups. Simultaneously, we will continue exploring relevant academic and gray literature and conduct an environmental scan of available tools and guidelines related to social justice issues affecting people with dementia, and map challenges and strategies for community recruitment of people living with dementia.

Role of the Student:
The student will assist with one or more of the following activities:
1. Conduct an environmental scan
Purpose: to document the range of dementia-focused research projects involving people living with dementia as collaborators, team members, co-leads or co-investigators
•    Identify “best practices” and/or guidelines related to involving people with dementia in research
•    Describe purpose and objectives of these initiatives
•    Describe approaches, process and outcomes of these initiatives in relation to people living with dementia
•    Describe recommendations and lessons learnt

2. Conduct a literature review
Focus: Recruitment of people living with dementia for research project and community programs
(e.g. mapping challenges and effective strategies)

3. Assist with organization and facilitation of focus groups
(e.g. recruitment, scheduling & communication support, observation/ note taking, data transcription and management)

Improving health equity for LGBTQ youth in Canada and globally: Addressing the role of families and culture Supervisor: Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc

Research Description: Families and schools are important sources of support for adolescents. However, trends show parental support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two Spirit, and queer (LGBTQ) youth is not improving. LGB youth in British Columbia feel less supported by parents now than their LGB peers did in 1998. We at the Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre (SARAVYC) have shown how key school policies and programs, such as Gay-Straight Alliances, are linked to lower odds of discrimination, suicidality and substance use problems, even for straight youth, and how safe and caring schools and families help buffer the effects of stigma and violence for LGBTQ youth, but there are few interventions designed for families, and almost all are in urban centres. Further, we do not know how well school interventions and families support LGBTQ youth of various ethnocultural and immigrant backgrounds, or if they face even greater health inequities. Interventions are needed to help all families better support their LGBTQ youth, and to reach youth and families in rural areas.

SARAVYC is conducting leading research to understand how school interventions and families support LGBTQ youth. We will be conducting one-on-one interviews and online asynchronous focus groups with LGBTQ youth in Canada, particularly among diverse ethnocultural groups, to explore of the experiences of LGBTQ youth at home and in school, and to understand the parental behaviours that are considered supportive by LGBTQ youth. Our findings will inform the creation of novel culturally-relevant interventions to build parental support and lower family rejection of LGBTQ youth.

Role of the Student: This is a training opportunity for an undergraduate student with strong research and writing skills who is interested in learning more about qualitative approaches to inquiry and the publication process. By the time the research assistant joins our team, data collection and analysis will be underway. The research assistant will perform a variety of duties, which include: 1) co-moderating an online focus group, 2) assisting with data coding and analysis using NVivo qualitative research software, and 3) contributing to the preparation of scholarly presentations and manuscripts through literature searches, copyediting and gathering information regarding submission guidelines.