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Pamela Durepos wins three awards to support research

Jun 7, 2018
Guylaine Spencer

Pamela Duperos

When PhD student Pamela Durepos opened her email inbox on March 28, she wasn’t expecting to hear about fellowship results. It was still early in the year for announcements. So imagine her surprise when she saw not one but two emails announcing she had won awards from two different organizations.

“The offers came less than an hour apart,” says Durepos, a PhD student in the McMaster School of Nursing.

One email was from the Alzheimers’ Society Research Program offering her a doctoral fellowship for $22,000/year for 3 years. “This award will support my research project, which is called Caring Ahead,” says Durepos. “I am developing a questionnaire to measure preparedness for end-of-life in caregivers of people with dementia.”

The Canadian Frailty Network also bestowed upon Durepos the Interdisciplinary Fellowship Award valued at $33,000 for one year. “It’s a pretty intensive program,” she explains. “I’m going to be working with other fellows on an online project. You also do an internship with a community partner to develop skills, professional development and knowledge translation. The community partner might actually use your research, and broaden your network and that’s pretty exciting. You get to choose a mentor, either a patient or caregiver, to make sure you’re having sufficient engagement within your research.”

Durepos is thrilled to be working with these partners. “They’re the partners I’ll want to work with for the rest of my career, so to have this opportunity to start off working with them as a trainee is an amazing opportunity.”

“There’s a huge interest in improving life for people with dementia and in improving life in long term care right now,” she notes. “It goes along with the national dementia framework that’s coming out.”

Helping people prepare for death is part of her work and her studies. “I work in the ICU at the Hamilton General as a nurse and one of the key things that nurses do for families is to help prepare them for what’s coming next,” she says. “I also had a great opportunity of working with family caregivers of people with dementia in a family support group. They always spoke about how important it is to start preparing emotionally, spiritually, practically and medically for the things that are going to happen. It also has long term impacts on how people recover after losing their loved one."

The work can be emotionally draining, of course. “But seeing the peace that people can get from feeling supported and having a great network of people around them and really great care providers ... that makes you want to continue helping this population,” says Durepos.

Durepos recently won a third award, the Canadian Nurses Foundation Lundbeck Award for Mental Health Nursing. She credits her success in winning these awards to expert mentorship from her supervisor Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen and her PhD committee.

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