By: Keisha Jefferies, PhD candidate, Dalhousie School of Nursing
I had the opportunity to attend the 24th Qualitative Health Research (QHR) Conference from Oct. 25-29th, 2018, which was held at the Westin Hotel in Halifax. The pre-conference was filled with very intriguing and practical workshops on data analysis, qualitative interviewing and tips for dissertation writing among others. The workshops were engaging and the content was presented in a meaningful way by very knowledgeable and qualified researchers. The pre-conference also offered an opportunity to networking with other attendees. I was able to connect with so many scholars from around the world since the conference was heavily attended by researchers from Australia, the United States, Europe, Brazil and across Canada. One of the more memorable and unexpected connections that I made was with the Dean of the School of Nursing at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), Dr. Edith Tarimo, whom I first met while working as a research assistant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2016 as a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholar (QES). Such a small world!!
As a presenter at QHR, I was stretched and challenged regarding my own work and beliefs, in a very collegial way, which was fantastic! I was challenged to defend my selected methodology, show how concepts are connected and share how my theoretical framework would consist of a blending of two critical theories. Additionally, I attended many interesting presentations on topics related to Realist Evaluation, Intersectionality and Health Policy as well as a literature synthesis on Female Genital Cutting (FGC). Building on my interests in critical analysis, I was able to establish some valuable connections with faculty and graduate students. I was also able to coordinate a group discussion session on critical discourse analysis with PhD students from across Canada who were using or interested in using this theory in their research.
Overall the conference was by far one of the most stimulating, enjoyable and beneficial conferences that I have attended. While there was a lot of similar interests and sharing occurring, I did encounter some very interesting and somewhat concerning perspectives as well. Firstly, a special thank you to the conference for accepting my abstract and allowing me to present a poster on my PhD proposal [leadership experiences of African Nova Scotian nurses] as well as being inclusive and providing opportunities for other researchers to share work involving marginalized groups. Secondly, I must acknowledge and show my support for Dr. Merlinda Weinberg, who presented an unapologetic presentation on the racist encounters that racialized health workers experience across Canada. Dr. Weinberg described the very real racism that is still present in society today. Her presentation evoked a rather interesting discussion around race, racism and privilege. It was slightly surprising to hear some of the comments from esteemed Nursing faculty from other parts of Canada and the assumptions and accusations put forward as fact. The environment was a great opportunity to share information and discuss the various realities of racism yet, the conversation that was initiated during the discussion period and restarted during lunch did leave me concerned about who are the individuals “sitting at the table” and making decisions about the health care needs and services for racialized groups. However, these insights simply add to my motivation to see more representation in nursing leadership and health care overall.
I experienced a lot of growth as a student and novice researcher by attending the QHR conference. I now have a better understanding and appreciation for qualitative research. Moreover, I am more grounded in my own philosophical and sociopolitical location as a nurse, PhD student and Black feminist. This conference really helped to solidify that. It was also so stimulating and energizing to share a space with some like-minded individuals. The QHR conference is definitely a conference that I will attend and present at again in the future.
In partnership with the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, the Global Health Office offers conference bursaries for students in the faculties of Health, Medicine and Dentistry to attend extracurricular programming such as conferences as part of their professional development. To find out more information about these bursaries please click here.