Why the Health Services Research Pathway?
The Health Services Researcher Pathway tool is a means for health professionals to assess their abilities in research, data analysis, and knowledge translation – three components that together make up competencies in research use. This tool was originally developed as part of a project commissioned by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research entitled Health Services Researcher Pathway. The initial research project was completed 2012-13, and the tool has been updated for currency on a regular basis since then (see original project team here). The first version of the tool, and the subsequent updates, focused primarily on the use of research and data by Registered Nurses. The current version presented here updates the competencies and learning resources and focuses on all health professions. In addition this tool includes emerging concepts related to Patient-Oriented Research (POR).
BC AHSN is pleased to make this tool available to students, practitioners and researchers who may use it to reflect on their knowledge and skills in varying components of research and to examine their attitudes and inclinations to enter into specific areas of work. The tool can be used to develop an individualized professional development plan for personal growth or in a more formal situation; the tool can be used in conjunction with a mentor, manager, supervisor or educator. In some settings, the tool has been used by managers to determine the knowledge and skills required for a particular job, and in education, the competencies listed in the tool have been used to define course or program expected learnings.
The tool is titled ‘pathway’ because it has five levels of increasing complexity. The competencies start for a person who is beginning to learn about use of research in care delivery settings and ends with a fully qualified research scientist. The pathway suggests a progression of knowledge, skills and attitudes that advances a professionals’ expertise. Every health care professional will not become a research scientist, yet all health care professionals need to understand research and use evidence in practice decisions. Each professional will seek out their own appropriate level on the path. Because there is a large literature on research expectations and competencies for career scientists, this tool’s most unique contribution may be helping clinicians determine what they need to know and do to perform as modern evidence-based practitioners.
The Pathway Has Five Levels
Competencies for health professionals using research
- Level 1: competencies for those learning about research use in care delivery.
- Level 2: competences for those using research and evidence in care delivery
- Level 3: competencies for those facilitating and leading others to use research in care delivery
Competencies for health professional researchers
- Level 4: competencies for those who are beginning researchers
- Level 5: competencies for those who are research scientists in research
How to Use the Tool
For each level there are three components of research use – the research process, data analysis, and knowledge translation. For each component, there are questions about knowledge, skills and attitudes. Persons using the tool can reflect on the questions asked and determine their ability to understand the concepts and carry out the related work. The attitude section provides reflective questions on values and inclinations to accept research use. For each question presented, ask yourself:
- “Do I know this?
- Can I do this? Do I do this? How well do I do this?”
The tool provides online links to learning resources in each category to help you review content and refresh your previous learning or to learn something new. You can focus on a particular part of the tool as appropriate for yourself. For example, you may wish to look at the data analysis sections and not the others; or you may be more interested in skills than in knowledge. There are no right or wrong approaches.
We recommend that you decide beforehand where you think your level might be and start there. If you are a professional with a few years of experience you might begin at level 3 to evaluate your competencies. If you are a PhD student, you might begin at level 4 or 5 and determine where you are and what your learning needs are. Our experience with the tool suggests that most users are ‘between’ levels, that is they have most of their competencies at one level yet find there are some at the lower for which they are not very experienced or some at a higher level that they have fully achieved. So begin your assessment, see how you do, and then look at the level below or above for further reflection. Remember that the purpose is for your own reflection and learning.
The links below provide you with the tool and permits you to call up the level you choose as a place to start: