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Dr. Bernice Downey receives Education Innovation Fund grant

Jun 26, 2019

Bernice Downey

Photo above: Dr. Bernice Downey

Dr. Bernice Downey has been awarded an Education Innovation Fund grant from McMaster Education Research, Innovation, and Theory (MERIT). The funding is for $50,000 spread over two years. The purpose of the award is “to encourage and provide support for the development and/or evaluation of novel and innovative approaches to health sciences education in the Faculty of Health Sciences.”

Downey is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Health Science, cross-appointed to the School of Nursing and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences.  She is also the Indigenous Health Lead for the development of an integrated Indigenous Health Initiative for the Faculty of Health Sciences.

“The primary objective of this research study is to assess how inter-professional learners benefit from Core Indigenous Cultural Safety training as it relates to their clinical practice and professional duties,” Downey notes. “Using the results of this evaluation, the project team is planning to develop a sustainable and adaptable Faculty of Health Sciences-specific Indigenous Cultural Safety training program for students, staff, and faculty members.”

The program is important, says Downey, “because one of the key strategic priorities in the Faculty of Health Sciences is to educate students, staff, and faculty members about Indigenous cultural safety.  As stated in the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, learning how to engage with Indigenous communities is important for healthcare professionals, learners, and researchers because it allows them to develop an understanding of colonial history and its impact; gain awareness of cultural differences and ways to bridge the gap; and gain self-awareness of their own historical and social bias. Having an in-depth understanding of this socio-cultural and historical context is important to address systemic barriers and facilitate culturally safe health care experiences for Indigenous people."

The research team includes Downey, a Core Indigenous Health Education Curriculum committee (made up of members from School of Medicine, School of Rehabiltation Sciences, School of Nursing, Health Sciences Library), an Indigenous Education Consultant, Knowledge Holders, and Elders. All will collaborate in the analysis of the findings, implementation of the training, and dissemination of the final product.

The award was announced at the Norman Education Research Day on June 5th at the David Braley Health Sciences Centre.

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