Doctoral research topics can really come from anywhere. For Dr Kyle Kemp, PhD’21, it was the survey data from his work that inspired the research for his PhD in Community Health Sciences, specializing in health services research.

Kemp worked for Alberta Health Services (AHS), where part of his role was to oversee a provincial survey program that asked patients about the care they received in the hospital.

“While I was there I got the idea to look at this data and thought it would make a great PhD,” he says.

Kemp, who convened in February, says his doctoral project has evolved over the years, but he ultimately decided to work with heart surgery patients to develop a survey for future patients. Kemp saw the need to develop a treatment-specific survey, as the survey he previously oversaw asked all patients the same questions, regardless of the reason for their hospital visit.

“We were missing out on opportunities to ask additional clinically relevant questions,” he says.

Ask for treatment-specific feedback

Kemp did his doctorate on three projects instead of a large thesis. His first project looked at existing data, getting a feel for questions and data points that might be missing. This informed the second project, in which Kemp interviewed Albertans who had had heart surgery about what was important to them during their hospital stay. Kemp then drew on the lessons of the first two projects to develop a new survey that allowed patients to answer questions and rate the survey itself.

“We had 90 participants who responded to the survey and received very positive feedback,” he says.

During his doctorate, Kemp wrote 11 manuscripts and 44 abstracts relating to his work. He says the writing process was excellent and he was able to capitalize on his existing knowledge from his previous work at AHS. Kemp has also won peer-reviewed funding awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, including the Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship.Doctoral scholarship.

“These awards have been a huge endorsement of my research and its necessity,” he says. “To be recognized and distinguished was a very beautiful testament to my work.”

“Pay forward mentality”

Kemp has also won numerous conference awards, including those from the International Society for Quality of Life Research, the International Population Data Linkage Network, and the Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research. He says it was a huge distinction to recognize, especially given the high quality research and innovative research programs presented at these conferences.

He served as a mentor by his peers during his time as a doctoral student. He says he has had excellent mentors throughout his academic and professional career, including his PhD supervisors, Dr. Maria Santana, PhD, and Dr. Hude Quan, PhD’98, and his committee members, Dr. Elizabeth Oddone Paolucci, BA’93, MSc’95, PhD’98, and Dr. Merril Knudtson, MD’75. It was important for him to help by offering his own expertise to others.

“It’s that up front payment mentality,” Kemp says.

This mentality is also found in his work as a peer reviewer for more than a dozen academic journals and conferences. Kemp says this work is a way of providing a public service and it also allows him to stay on top of what’s going on in the research world.

Kemp works with the Health Quality Council of Alberta, whose mandate is to promote and improve patient safety, person-centered care and the quality of health services. He is excited to bring his doctoral knowledge and skills to his work on the board.


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