Diabetes Canada held its annual Professional Conference in Winnipeg Manitoba on October 2nd – Oct 5th, 2019. Diabetes Action Canada once again kicked off the event by hosting a pre-conference trainee day. This was the most successful Trainee Day yet with 29 attendees. We as an opportunity to connect with one of our Diabetes Action Canada trainees, Dr. Ruth Ndjaboue Njike, who attended the event and is a 2019-2021 postdoctoral fellowship awardee. Ruth was kind enough to share her perspectives on her experience below.
I had the opportunity to attend the Diabetes Action Canada Trainee Day first in 2018. Then it was such a great experience for many reasons, but the recent 2019 Trainee Day was even better. It all started with the interactive layout of the room. Everyone was seated in small groups around a round table, leading to a more casual environment. Spending almost the whole day with the same people was itself an ice-breaking activity! People seated with me were from different academic background (basic science, health profession science, medicine and social science) and as the day progressed, we learnt about each other.
Many different activities took place during the day. We had the privilege to hear the personal diabetes journey of Howard English, an active Patient Partner within Diabetes Action Canada. Hearing from patients in person always give me a sense of fulfilment and allows me to recognize the importance of the work and efforts of researchers in helping improve the lives of people living with diabetes. Howard shared insightful comments of lessons learned as a person living with diabetes.
Many other researchers presented different topics. Two presentations that resonated with me the most were by Dr. Allison Dart (MD, iCARE research) on the use of gender and sex in research and by Dr. Jon McGavock (PhD, DREAM team) on grant writing. Dr Allison Dart described Patient Oriented Research (POR) as “a continuum that engages Patients and partners and that requires multidisciplinary teams with meaningful and active collaboration (including Knowledge Translation, inclusiveness, support, mutual respect and co-build).” Dr McGavock showed practically why “writing a story is better than writing a theses” and how to write in an engaging way. Another great moment was the discussion of the 2-page summaries of research protocols in small groups. Each trainee was asked to submit one protocol prior to the Trainee Day and each protocol was reviewed by five trainees. I received many helpful and positive comments from my reviewers. A key takeaway from the day’s activities was the need for more lay terms in grant writing, particularly if the subject is not known to the reviewer, who can be either researcher or patient.
The day ended with a presentation by Dr. Christine Doucette (University of Manitoba) about her journey in life and as a researcher. Listening to her was inspiring and comforting for me as her story showed that it is possible to have a successful career in spite of the struggles and disappointments in life.
- Ruth Ndjaboue Njike