This past October, I had the opportunity to attend and present my research at the University of Alberta Institute for Qualitative Methodology’s 25th Annual Qualitative Health Research Conference. Despite Vancouver’s rainy reputation, we were treated to gorgeous fall weather for the entirety of the event. I was grateful to spend my days exploring the depth and breadth of Qualitative research methods and my evenings soaking up the stunning sunsets over the Pacific. I was also grateful for the opportunity to meet so many graduate students, early career researchers, and prominent thought-leaders who have spent their careers defining and advancing qualitative methods in health research. I owe a lot of my own foundational and methodological knowledge to these academics.
I was a little bit nervous to present a portion of my doctoral project at an international conference. I needn’t have been though; everybody was incredibly friendly and supportive. I always get anxious that people will challenge my work with their questions but that wasn’t the case here. My presentation went well, and we were able to have a fascinating discussion about my methods and my findings through the questions posed to me. I was also able to connect with several researchers who have similar interests to mine. I often find it challenging to find a place where my work “fits”. I tend to straddle the border between health and education with a foot in both worlds, which can often feel like I belong to neither. Being able to network with others either working directly in my field or slightly adjacent to my field was a definite benefit of attending such a diverse health research conference.
I find conferences to be an often-needed source of inspiration that reminds me why I decided to pursue my Ph.D. in the first place. This conference was no different; I returned to Ottawa with a renewed excitement for my future in health professions education research. I am incredibly grateful to the Education Graduate Students’ Association for assisting me financially with this opportunity through their conference grant. I certainly recommend that all Faculty of Education students consider applying for this opportunity to help further their own learning and research goals.