Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Important partnership: Dr. Britney Benoit named inaugural Nova Scotia Health Health Sciences Research Chair at StFX Rankin School of Nursing

August 19th, 2020
Dr. Britney Benoit

An exciting new collaboration between Nova Scotia Health and St. Francis Xavier University is expected to positively impact health and healthcare in Nova Scotia communities. 

Dr. Britney Benoit has been appointed the inaugural Nova Scotia Health Health Sciences Research Chair at St. Francis Xavier University’s Rankin School of Nursing.  The role of this research chair is to build capacity for research that is relevant to provincial health priorities. 

“In particular, there is a strong focus on conducting research that leverages academic and health systems partnerships to support knowledge generation and translation for the care of children and families across the province, with a focus on eastern Nova Scotia,” says Dr. Benoit, a StFX graduate, a registered nurse and a researcher who works to improve care for patients with a primary focus on maternal child health and care, assessing and managing infant pain and finding interventions that have strong evidence for optimizing health outcomes.

A core focus of this three-year research chair appointment is to build collaborative partnerships that not only include health researchers and research centres, but also health system leaders, decision-makers, clinicians, and families with a particular focus on network development in eastern Nova Scotia. The research chair appointment spans both StFX and NSH, provides dedicated protected research time, and also has dedicated mechanisms to support provincial heath research partnerships, such as engagement in the NSH Community of Scholars Network. 

While this type of embedded clinician-scientist model is more commonly seen in urban settings with tertiary level health centres, it is unique and novel to hold this position in a rural community in Nova Scotia. 

“I see this as an incredible opportunity to build capacity for province-wide embedded health scientist models,” Dr. Benoit says.  

“I am so pleased to have Dr. Benoit in this important role,” Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, vice president of the Nova Scotia Health Research, Innovation & Discovery team, had said in an article published in Nova Scotia Health Research and Innovation annual report 2020. “This is an incredible opportunity to support research and collaboration across our province and to leverage resources and knowledge at a local level.” 

The role of the Nova Scotia Health Health Sciences Research Chair is to build capacity for research that is relevant to provincial health priorities. This feat can only be accomplished by fostering collaboration and leveraging expertise across academic and health systems, she says. 

EXCITED BY OPPORTUNITY

“I am excited by the opportunity to create meaningful partnerships to do research that is responsive to health system needs – and to see the impact of research on care delivery and outcomes for families. Having the dedicated time to work to advance research that can impact on health and healthcare in communities across Nova Scotia is an absolute privilege,” says Dr. Benoit. 

Dr. Benoit, who holds a PhD in nursing from Dalhousie, a MSc in nursing from McGill, and a BSc in human nutrition from StFX, says she has specific designated activities that she will be working toward to achieve the objectives of the chair position. 

“As a new independent health investigator, a considerable amount of my initial focus in this position has and will be on building collaborations with both academic and health systems partners across the province. In my view, close collaboration with interdisciplinary health researchers, health systems leaders, clinicians, and families is crucial to ensuring that we are asking and answering research questions that are relevant to health and healthcare needs.”

Dr. Benoit says the research and knowledge mobilization objectives of this chair appointment have a strong focus on establishing a productive and independent program of research. “This of course includes submitting for and securing grant funding to support research completion, disseminating of research findings through traditional means, such as publications and conference presentations, while also working closely with health system partners to ensure research findings are integrated into healthcare planning and policy to impact on the care of Nova Scotians.”

MENTOR AND SUPPORT

As an assistant professor in the Rankin School of Nursing at StFX, she continues to teach in the nursing program. Dr. Benoit’s teaching expertise is largely in maternal-child nursing care and nursing research and she will be continuing to teach in these areas across the tenure of this research chair appointment. 

“I also view this research chair as an opportunity for dedicated time to mentor and support student involvement in research and look forward to the opportunity to work with StFX nursing students and other interdisciplinary students interested in health research. It’s also an excellent opportunity to showcase the diverse opportunities that students can pursue in a nursing career and the important role of nurse researchers in health science,” she says.

She is also happy to be back at her alma mater.

“I’m thrilled to be back at StFX! When I was a trainee in the Human Nutrition Department, I did honours research under the supervision of Dr. Doris Gillis. This positive mentorship experience and introduction to research was what prompted my pursuit of graduate training. My hope is that I can have that type of positive impact on the students I work with at StFX. Holding this research chair appointment that spans StFX and NSH provides the ideal setting to work closely with university and health system colleagues to provide students the opportunity to complete embedded health research that can have an impact.” 

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