Published on 23 June 2021
Leading lights in the nursing and health sector have congratulated an associate professor whose inspirational leadership in health research has earned her an international award.
Dr Yitka Graham, Head of the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute, and Associate Professor in Health Services Research, at the University of Sunderland, has been awarded the US-based AcademyHealth’s Interdisciplinary Research Group for Nursing Issues (IRGNI) Mentorship Award for 2021.
Leading on the development of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health clinical research with partners in areas such as Health Services Research, Nursing, Out of Hospital Care, Bariatric Surgical Care and Military and Veteran Health and Wellbeing, Yitka was presented with her award at the IRGNI Conference this month. The award was sponsored by the International Journal of Nursing Studies.
“It is an honour to accept this award, I strive to provide leadership to foster an inclusive research culture and environment where people, are valued, gain confidence and develop a passion for research,” says Yitka. “At the heart of this philosophy is mentorship. Mentorship is about believing in the potential of people, and for young investigators, guiding, inspiring and supporting them to reach their potential to become confident, able researchers with a passion for health services research.”
AcademyHealth, headquartered in Washington, DC, improves health and healthcare for all by advancing evidence to inform policy and practice. The IRGNI Research Mentorship Award recognises the contributions of a senior scientist to the career development of young investigators who are engaged in research focused on interdisciplinary health services research on nursing issues.
Chair of the IRGNI, Assistant Professor Deonni Stolldorf, says she was honored to present this year’s award to Yitka, adding: “As head of the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute, Dr Graham was instrumental in creating an environment supportive of nurses taking part in experiential learning, getting involved in existing research projects, mapping out training and development needs, applying for research funding, and for academic study. Congratulations and best wishes for continued success.”
Also congratulating Yitka on her award, Mark McArdle, External Advisory Board Member of the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute, said: “Our Institute is all about people, inspiring and supporting people to become confident and capable researchers and mentorship is central to achieving this aim. Health Services Research and Nursing are two of our five strategic research themes, and I am delighted that Yitka has been recognised for her contribution to mentorship and interdisciplinary research internationally.”
Ann Fox, Executive Director of Nursing, Quality and Safety at Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group, Visiting Professor in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, and External Advisory Member of the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research, commented: “Yitka is committed to increasing capacity and capability to develop research with nurses, for nurses and about nurses. She is a strong and committed research leader and this award reflects her commitment to Health Services Research and to supporting the nursing workforce, especially in such difficult times.”
Jeanette Scott, Executive Director of Nursing, Quality and Safety at South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, Visiting Professor in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, and External Advisory Member of the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research, added: “Yitka is an excellent mentor who inspires confidence in those she works with. Her dedication to interdisciplinary research, working across boundaries and disciplines to create new knowledge is inspiring.”
IRGNI is a specialist chapter which supports the development of health services research which encompasses nursing practice, workforce development and delivery of care, promoting interdisciplinary research collaborations between nursing and other health services researchers.
Yitka says: “The pandemic has shown how fragile our healthcare systems and workforce are, and never has there been a time like the present for our
discipline of Health Services Research to rise to the challenges of organising, providing and delivering health and care services safely and effectively to the populations we serve, whilst looking after our most precious resource in healthcare, our workforce.
“To be recognised for my contribution to mentoring young investigators to build interdisciplinary research capacity and capability focusing on nursing issues, particularly during a very challenging time for health services research, is deeply appreciated.”
About Dr Yitka Graham
Head of the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute, Yitka leads the development of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health (NMAHP) clinical research capacity and capability in the University, and with our partners in health and social care settings. The Institute has five themes of Health Services Research, Nursing, Out of Hospital Care, Bariatric Surgical Care and Military and Veteran Health and Wellbeing.
She is the Veteran's Champion for the University as part of our institutional commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.
She is the NMAHP Strategic Research Lead for Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group and South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group to concurrently build NMAHP research in community and health and social care settings. Yitka is also Vice-Chair of both CCGs' Research and Evidence Committee. Yitka is the Lead for the University of Sunderland Health and Care Workforce Interdisciplinary Research Network developing collaborative arts and wellbeing projects with colleagues in the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries and how social prescribing can be reconceptualised in this creative space.
She is a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Anahuac in Mexico, and an Honorary Lifetime member of the Mexican College of Surgery for Obesity and Metabolic Diseases.
Yitka has also held an embedded research post in the Bariatric Surgical Unit in the Directorate of General Surgery at South Tyneside and
Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust for the last eight years, where she lead research into patient experience, sexual and reproductive health, the role of healthcare professionals within multi-disciplinary teams, and social media and technology for bariatric patient support. I have research collaborations with the Department of Radiology where we have studies in workforce development, patient safety and cancer awareness.
She is the Speciality Group Lead, Health Services Research for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) North East and North Cumbria Clinical Research Network, supporting the delivery of studies in this discipline.
Yitka also works collaboratively to ensure that the knowledge gained from the research informs practice and decision-making, whilst feeding back into the healthcare curriculum in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences to ensure our students have the benefit of real-world research during their studies at the University of Sunderland.