Maxi Miciak earns the new Cy Frank Fellowship: Impact Assessment

PhD student's desire to use and translate research knowledge to clinicians helped her earn the new AIHS fellowship

Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions - 16 September 2015

(Edmonton) By the time many of Maxi Miciak's patients came to her for physical therapy they were struggling, frustrated and felt like they hadn't been heard. At the time, her role as a registered physical therapist was to help patients develop resources so they could manage and move forward.

She returned to school to focus on the key building blocks of the relationship between a physical therapist and his or her patient but found the proper assessment tools did not exist.

But, now that Maxi has been awarded the new Cy Frank Fellowship: Impact Assessment she has the opportunity to learn more about how to evaluate the impact of research like hers.

During her fellowship at Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions (AIHS), Maxi will explore if and how health research supports informed decision-making in healthcare systems.

"We're now beginning to understand how this relationship affects the patient's" outcome," said Maxi.

A strong desire to learn how to include impact evaluation into her research program is a large part of what made this fellowship appealing.

"I'm very fortunate to be on the cutting edge of demonstrating the impact of health research in Alberta and Canada. It's going to be a really interesting journey to see how what I learn here affects my future research," said Maxi.

She believes it is going to be important for researchers to understand how performance, measurement and evaluation is evolving.

"I plan to return to academia and kind of be a beacon for research impact. I've already had people say this is really important and that they can't wait to talk to me when I complete my fellowship," said Maxi.

In selecting Maxi for this new award, the reviewers praised her strong background in health sciences, research and evaluation methods and her ability to demonstrate a clear mission to improve health service delivery.

Maxi never met Dr. Frank but knew a lot about his work. She saw him as a visionary and a great leader.

"I couldn't ask for a better situation. To receive a fellowship that commits to the vision of better health outcomes as well as join a team who has embraced Cy's principles and continues to follow the path that he set out."

The Cy Frank Fellowship is a new type of "professional fellowship" that reflects Cy's principles of academic excellence and practical application. It is built on three core building blocks:

  1. practical experience in the field at AIHS
  2. academic advice from a supervisor from the University
  3. mentorship from an evaluator in the community in preparing for a professional designation in evaluation

Created in honour of Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions' late president & CEO, Dr. Cy Frank, this fellowship provides the opportunity for the recipient to continue in academia or pursue work in the health system.

"Preparing fellows in this way is practical plus it allows the translation of research and evaluation evidence to achieve better outcomes," says Kathryn Graham, Executive Director of the Performance Management and Evaluation Department and Maxi's supervisor at AIHS.

This award is given to the highest ranked graduate applicant whose curriculum demonstrates promise as a future leader in health research and innovation. Maxi is a registered physical therapist who will graduate with her PhD from the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine in November 2015.