Research Administration Course is a Lifetime Investment

Sarah Musavi, Student, Certificate in Research Administration, Mohawk College

Allow me to go back to 1994-1999, when I was working on my PhD (Biochemistry) at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research. At that time, I had a big dream of being a laboratory manager. Luckily, I stumbled upon a notice from Temple University in USA about the importance of a degree in health administration. So, after a brief stint as a scientist for the dreaded Monsanto, I put all my eggs in a basket and took the flight to Canada in the Masters in Health Administration program at Dalhousie University, Halifax in 2002. Later, family etc came along and my degree finally got awarded in 2006 from University of Ottawa (talk about life!!).

So, my journey had just begun- with a little child at home, the maximum I could do was take up short consulting assignments for healthcare organizations. For some of them, I was doing research even to apply for grants or simply proving a point.

So, I have learnt about the research ethics board, the grant applications, relationship management, project management, teamwork, budgeting, publishing papers, conducting surveys and raising funds.

Let’s talk about “when the student is ready, the teacher appears”- I am on the board for the MHA Alumni association at University of Ottawa. In 2019, I was given a free ticket by the board to attend the annual gala (which is $150 a ticket). Some seating arrangements got messed up and Anne-Julie, the VP of Research at telfer school of Management was left with no seat. So, I offered to make room for her on our table. As we chatted through the star-studded evening of velvety gowns, I told her about my blog (www.womenenddiabetes.ca), my certificate in health coaching, the classes I teach in the community for food as medicine and my research assignments. However, for lack of employment in the healthcare field, I am currently working as an extended day program facilitator at the Catholic School Board. Anne-Julie suddenly stared at me and asked, “why are you not in research administration?” I was taken aback. I didn’t even know there was a field like that. She told me I am very well-suited for this profession just because I can write well, am experienced with research and have good knowledge of working with people. She took my contact information and the next day sent me all the links for this as well as for CARA. Things just started shaping up after the webinar by Sarah Lampson for Mohawk College.

I am lucky to have found the full funding for the 3 courses this winter through CARA and I sincerely thank CARA for trusting me with this.

Now, I have a very engaged mentor, Sanjukta Chaudhury from Univ of Saskatchewan, who I think will be very useful in my program. Sarah Lampson and Kaleb have been very supportive. I think the entire program at Mohawk is set up for student success. To add to that, I have organized my time for these courses by setting out 9:30am to 12:30 pm each day. I work at the school from 7-9am and then from 2:30-6pm. I keep my phone and social media turned off during my study hours, so I can have focused attention. I have also set aside 7-9am on weekends for study, because those are quiet times at home.

Apart from encouragement from my family, mentor and support from CARA, my success depends a lot on self-discipline and staying on top of all my coursework on time and never letting it fall over the next week. I also try to stay healthy using food as medicine.

My goals from the course are to gain confidence in the research administration process, make meaningful connections and find a position in healthcare research administration.

Truly, taking the Research administration course is an investment of a lifetime for me.

Though I am not counting the number of years its taken me to finally be able to see myself working as a research administrator in 2020, the journey from 2002 to 2020 seems to be a shift not just of digits, but in many aspects of how I will succeed in my future role, coming from a variety of experience of working with people and projects from so many sectors:

Schools (Ottawa Carleton district schools, Ottawa catholic schools, Ottawa Montessori school), College (Algonquin college),

Community (City of Ottawa, community garden, immigrant community),

University (Carleton univ and UOttawa),

Hospitals (CHEO, Ottawa Hospital),

Healthcare research organizations (Elisabeth Bruyere research Institute, Canadiaan Institute for Health Information),

Federal government (Health Canada and Canada Revenue Agency)