An estimate of six hours a week on average

Sarah Musavi, CARA member


What prompted you to enroll in the Research Administration Certificate?

I have a Masters in Health Administration and also a PhD in Biochemistry. However, due to family obligations, I was not able to follow the profession in a streamlined manner, so I ended up doing small contracts with research and writing for healthcare organizations. It has been very rewarding each time I was doing the reports, but the dilemma I faced was how to get those contracts when I mostly work from home and people forget once the project is over. Plus, funding is not always there for organizations to hire a contractor. As a result, I started writing my own blog to help people cut through the confusion of how to stay healthy and showing them the science of health and disease.

In Dec 2019, I met a very senior research administrator from Univ of Ottawa and when she discovered my passion for writing coupled with my understanding of science, she advised me to join CARA, she said that I would make for a good RA because I have the writing skills and that is what RAs need in order to succeed besides of course people skills and understanding different perspectives. Since I have worked in large and medium sized healthcare organizations in many different roles, I have a good understanding of teamwork and communication.

If it was not for Anne-Julie, I doubt if I would be enrolled in this program because I had never heard about it. 


How many courses have you completed to date?

I have completed 3 courses- Developing funding proposals, Financial Management in Research, Introduction to Canadian Research Funding. 


What has been helpful to you in balancing your other responsibilities with your studies?

Cant beat scheduling time in. I also found that when I start my week with an overview of all assignments required and I write down due dates for that week on a paper and pin it to my cork board on my writing table, I am on track.

I aim to spend 2 hrs every day doing the work for courses, but the overall goal is to study one course a day and complete required assignments within that hour. Then I get to the second course the next day. Since we only do 3 courses per semester, I like to do the same course twice in a week and in that time make sure I’ve completed the modules, assignments and discussions.

I also plan out assignments that are long and have due dates in a month. I keep doing little bits of those assignments every day for about 15 mins or more. It makes it less onerous.


How many hours a week do you spend on your studies?

I would estimate it to 6 hours a week on average. I think the way the assignments are planned is that when one course is heavy in a week, another one is light.

I also try and read a few pages of the books: Managing the Research University, Steer your career and Soft skills and professional tips for the office as and when I can during the day.