TWU’s fourth Canada Research Chair recipient, Rick Sawatzky, Ph.D., gives inaugural lecture

On the evening of March 13, 2014, students, faculty, and honoured guests gathered to celebrate the inaugural lecture of Trinity Western University’s newest Canada Research Chair holder, Rick Sawatzky, Ph.D., R.N. Sawatzky, a TWU alumnus who has taught at the University since 2002, was awarded a Tier 2 Chair in Patient-Reported Outcomes last fall.

Together with his team of students, trainees, healthcare providers, and researchers, Sawatzky will study the use of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) to assess people’s health and quality-of-life concerns, from their perspectives. Sawatzky’s Canada Research Chair is the University’s first in the area of health.

Member of Parliament and fellow alumnus the Honourable Mark Warawa lauded Sawatzky for his achievement. “The innovation and ideas that come from your study will create a stronger health care system, a more compassionate society, and will improve the quality of life for many,” he said. “On behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Government of Canada, I want to congratulate you, and your team, on your appointment as a Canada Research Chair holder.”

Warawa presented Sawatzky with a letter of commendation from Prime Minister Harper. Also offering congratulations were TWU President Bob Kuhn and Provost W. Robert Wood, Ph.D. Councillor Grant Ward represented the Township of Langley.

A registered nurse with a background in medicine and palliative care, Sawatzky has taught in both the undergraduate and master’s programs in Trinity Western University’s School of Nursing.

School of Nursing Dean Sonya Grypma, Ph.D., R.N., introduced the evening’s guest of honour. “Rick would be the first to tell you that his nursing practice is what has inspired his love for healthcare-related research,” she said. “But he would be the last to tell you that, since graduating with his Ph.D. in 2009 from UBC, he has been part of 14 funded studies that have been awarded over $2.5M in research grants.”

Grypma, who presented Sawatzky with his Canada Research Chair pin, called Sawatzky a “brilliant and generous colleague, as interested in the people he works with as in the data he analyzes” and a “consummate nurse-scholar.”

“Rick is not just interested in the measurement of health outcomes—and he’s very interested in health outcomes—he is interested in the voice of the patient, and in the development of tools to help assess health outcomes,” Grypma said.

“After hearing all that, I keep wondering if there’s another Rick Sawatzky,” the Canada Research Chair holder quipped as he took to the podium.

“A Canada Research Chair is not something that belongs just to an individual,” Sawatzky said. “It’s something that belongs to a community, and arises from that community. In this case, it has arisen from a community of researchers—academics and students—from several different universities and health care professionals from several different institutions.”

The Canada Research Chair allows Sawatzky and his research team to study how to best obtain, and use, information about the challenges people with chronic, life-limiting illnesses—often with multiple conditions—face within the healthcare system.

“This topic resonates with people,” Sawatzky said. “The desire to find ways of making the quality-of-life concerns and the needs of people visible, in the health care system is an important activity. And that’s what this program of research is all about.”

In addition to Sawatzky, three other TWU professors hold Canada Research Chairs: Peter Flint, Ph.D., Dead Sea Scrolls Studies; Eve Stringham, Ph.D., Developmental Genetics and Disease; and Jens Zimmermann, Ph.D., Interpretation, Religion and Culture.

To view a gallery of photos from the event, visit our Facebook page.


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