Researcher Spotlight: Sheila Boamah
Mar 15, 2021
By Guylaine Spencer
When Dr. Sheila Boamah joined the McMaster School of Nursing in 2020, she brought with her a wealth of research expertise in the area of leadership.
Her passion for the subject stems from her own clinical practice as a nurse. “I became interested in the work environment and in finding ways to promote inclusive culture, so that nurses could feel supported in providing patient care,” she says.
Boamah became engaged in research in her early days as a nursing student. “I was involved as a research assistant in my undergraduate studies and then in graduate school as well,” she says. “But running my own research came in my doctoral program, where I presented and published my own work. I focused on leadership and how people can be leaders in their own practice and how this benefits patients. Many patients, especially older adults, weren’t being cared for the way I want to be cared for when I get old, so I decided to look at better ways to ensure we are improving the system and people’s wellbeing and quality of life.”
The title of her PhD thesis, published in 2017, is: “The influence of transformational leadership on nurse-reported patient safety outcomes.” Her other publications include articles in Journal of Advanced Nursing, Journal of Nursing Management and Western Journal of Nursing Research, to name just a few.
Since joining McMaster, Boamah has been busy with ongoing research. Last year, Boamah and her colleagues in the School of Nursing, Drs. Nancy Carter and Joanna Pierazzo, were awarded a grant from MERIT’s Academic Mentorship Research Starter Fund for a one-year project exploring nursing faculty shortage (“Exploring Female Faculty Perspectives on Worklife and Strategies for Academic Mentorship”). Boamah’s review of the project was just published in Nursing Outlook.
She and Drs. A. Baumann and G. Arku were awarded a grant from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for $64,564 to expand on this research. Boamah is leading the two-year project, “Worklife in Canada: Perspectives of early career nursing faculty”.
“The goal of this research is to explore the worklife experiences of new nursing faculty across Canada and the factors that influence their recruitment and retention,” she says. “Phase I of the research will focus on using a survey to get a broader picture or overview of the new faculty member’s experiences, and phase II will include interviews with the faculty to drill down on the specifics and get a deeper understanding of people’s personal experiences and stories. Data collection will start in summer 2021.”
On the clinical front, Boamah is leading a project funded by SSHRC Exchange. Fellow researchers include Drs. Kaasalainen of the McMaster School of Nursing and Dal Bello-Haas of School of Rehabilitation Science and others. “The project aims to raise awareness of the prevalence of social isolation among older adults, a public policy issue often overlooked prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says. The study will give voice to the diverse experiences of long-term care residents and their family caregivers and others marginalized because of COVID-19 by using photographs and stories. Boamah hopes that the findings will prompt dialogue and change.
What does she enjoy most about conducting research? “I enjoy the inquiry, I want to know,” she says. “The discovery is an exciting part. Also, it’s important to consider what we are doing with the results. Are we informing policy or contributing in some way?”
For new researchers, Boamah has the following suggestions: “My advice will be for them to follow their passion and let that drive their inquiries; collaborate and find a mentor; be strategic in how they spend their time; and know the expectations.”