Commentary

Rural health research capacity building: an anchored solution

AUTHORS

Anna Walsh1 BSc(Hons), Masters Student

Thomas Heeley2 MASP, Copywriter

Bradley Furlong3 BSc(Hons), PhD Candidate

Cheri Bethune4 MD, MCISc, Clinical Professor

Wendy Graham5 MD, Associate Professor

name here
Shabnam Asghari6
MD, PhD, Epidemiologist *

AFFILIATIONS

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Centre for Rural Health Studies, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

ACCEPTED: 26 March 2021


early abstract:

Rural physicians face many challenges with providing rural healthcare, which often leads to innovative solutions. Despite their creativity with overcoming barriers, there is a lack of support for rural health research – an area of healthcare where research makes great impacts on small communities. Rural research capacity building (RRCB) is essential to support rural physicians so that they can conduct relevant research, but RRCB programs are sparse. Thus, our team at Memorial University of Newfoundland has created a RRCB ecosystem through the 6for6 and Rural360 programs that outline a pathway for rural physicians to make meaningful contributions to their communities through research. This article describes the RRCB ecosystem and explains how the 6for6 and Rural360 programs address the need for RRCB. Designed to train 6 rural physicians over 6 sessions per year, 6for6 fosters learning of research practices through a conceptual framework that envelops complexity science, systems thinking, and anchored instruction. The use of this framework allows the learning to be grounded in issues that are locally relevant for each participant and follows guiding principles that enable many types of learning. Rural360 continues the pathway by providing an in-house funding opportunity with an iterative review process that allows participants to continue developing their research skills and, ultimately, secure funding for their project. This anchored delivery model of RRCB programming is made possible through many support systems including staff, librarians, instructors, the University, and other stakeholders. It has successfully helped form communities of practice, promotes collaboration both between learners and with third parties, encourages self-organization with flexibility for learners outside of the in-house sessions, and ultimately drives social accountability in addressing local healthcare issues.