To say that Michelle Carter is a passionate student would be an understatement.
In addition to her role as a clinical nurse specialist at St. Paul’s Hospital, Michelle is a dedicated researcher who has spent two years investigating perinatal mental health services and opportunities to better integrate services in the provision of care across disciplines, levels, and specialties.
She will soon begin her PhD in Nursing at UBC, exploring virtual care satisfaction among individuals experiencing mental health challenges in the perinatal period.
As a relatively new parent, Michelle feels acutely connected to this topic. “I have two young children, and I think there was this intersection between my personal and professional life. I felt called to work in this area clinically and then also to begin research in this field,” Michelle says.
While virtual care became more accessible during the onset of COVID-19, it also presented an opportunity for health care workers like Michelle to provide services for individuals who previously struggled to access support.
“Virtual care allows us to overcome geographical barriers and enables us to provide health care services for individuals who might live in either an underserved area or who find it difficult to leave their home,” she explains. “There’s the convenience and flexibility part, especially with perinatal mental health. People are often recovering at home post-delivery.”
Michelle is also excited by the potential technological advancements that virtual care unlocks, such as the collection and monitoring of real-time health data (through tools like wearables and remote monitoring devices) to improve personalized care.
While she says that pursuing higher learning while working as a clinical nurse specialist “feels like a huge undertaking,” she credits the culture at PHC for giving her the space, time, and support to pursue her educational goals.
To further encourage and empower other ambitious health care workers like Michelle, St. Paul’s and PHC are creating CREST. It will provide supportive infrastructure and funding for those Providence staff members who want to improve health care by becoming clinician scientists.
CREST will be an integrated scientific home that not only attracts, but also retains health professionals – people like Michelle – who strive to learn, improve their knowledge, and conduct high-quality research in pursuit of better health outcomes for patients.
“In clinical care, we know we can be doing better, and continued learning provides a platform to ask questions so we can improve care.”