Have you ever thought about pursuing a research project that could further your navigation career? Is there a situation or issue in your workplace or the community that you would like to solve … if only you had the financial resources? As Linda Burhansstipanov, MSPH, DrPH, and Linda Fleisher, PhD, MPH, discussed in this podcast, research happens at many different levels, and it isn’t necessary to have a PhD or the formal title of “researcher” in order to publish your research or to write grants that secure funding in aid of your practice or your patients.
Both guests have had long careers in research and shared some insights about what drew them to the work, as well as their setbacks. Although they have followed “winding” paths through the years—in terms of their background and education and professional experience--they offered practical advice about how to think about starting or expanding your research as a navigator.
In this episode, led by Lisa Hartman, Director of Certification, AONN+ Foundation for Learning, Inc., the focus was on grant writing and pursuing the evidence-based research necessary for successful applications to funders. The presenters agreed that while it isn’t necessary to have an advanced degree in research methods, it is important to have a sense of curiosity about how things work, how improvements can be made, and an interest in innovation. A love of finding solutions and discovering ways to make things better for the communities one serves are the crucial ingredients for successful research.
Among many suggestions they offered were these 3 top takeaways:
- A “need” can lead to a grant-funded opportunity. Research doesn’t have to be “out there” or the subject of a nationally-funded project, nor is it only something to be undertaken by and for academicians. You can be a researcher in whatever role you’re currently in. Look for areas of concern or need in your organization. Talk to many people and get their feedback—ideas for funding projects come from all around. Ask questions, look for ways to make things better for patients or providers. Think about starting with a small evaluation program that your organization can benefit from now, then use that data to expand the project or create a new one.
- Partnerships are essential. Much good research is multidisciplinary and collaborative, and draws on the expertise of many. Reach out to people in your own institution (“government affairs” or “institutional advancement” are good places to start), to faculty at community colleges, or to colleagues in related areas. Funding partners can be found through public or non-profit organizations or in the private sector. Many private, or consumer-driven companies offer grants for projects and for research among certain communities. Find people you can trust and work well with.
- Know your craft. Seek out training resources or opportunities (through AONN+, for example). Before you submit your project, really know the organization you are applying to, and tailor the application. Let reviewer comments guide your responses if you are asked to revise—you may have to submit more than once. Remember, there is a hierarchy of grants, and you don’t necessarily have to start with the biggest and most competitive. Start small, do solid work, and build partnerships.
To learn more about the Heart and Soul of Oncology Navigation podcast and to view our series schedule,
please visit our podcasts page.
Stay tuned for 2022 episodes announcements.