News at Medicine - April 2008 - Rising Star Award for grad student

Rising Star Award for grad student
April 15, 2008
Sylvia Reitmanova, a PhD student in the Division of Community Health and Humanities, is one of five Canadian graduate students to receive an inaugural Rising Star Award from the Institute of Health Services and Policy Research, Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
The awards are given to students studying in the field of health services and policy research for demonstration of excellence in research and knowledge translation, the innovation of their work and the potential impact of their work within the field of health services and policy research.

This award recognizes Ms. Reitmanova’s work on increasing policy maker's awareness of local immigrant's mental health-concerning needs and the barriers they face in accessing health services in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Her work with immigrants in St. John’s was done for her master’s degree. From the beginning of her research on immigrants’ mental health and well-being and the barriers they face accessing local mental health services, Ms. Reitmanova made contact with stakeholders such as policy makers, mental health service providers, Eastern Health and the Association for New Canadians, to find out their priority issues and research questions. These issues and questions were then integrated into her research.

After finishing her research, Ms. Reitmanova went back to these stakeholders and let them know what she had found. “If you really want research to be taken seriously, you need to employ different strategies to disseminate it,” she said.

During Mental Health Awareness Week, she presented her work to mental health and immigration policy makers and based on this she also prepared two reports. The report on social determinants of immigrants’ well-being was delivered to the provincial government's Immigration Office. The report for mental health decision makers, organizations and services providers was made available via posting on the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research website. She also made presentations to mental health service decision makers and providers at the Waterford Hospital.

Ms. Reitmanova plans to take her dissemination initiatives one step further by publishing them in local immigrant newspapers and mailing lists and by offering an in-kind workshop to a clinic team that provides health services to immigrants. For the academic community, her research was published in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health and she has made five presentations at local, national and international conferences. She will also make a presentation on her knowledge translation initiative at the Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research from May 26-28 in Gatineau, Quebec.

All these initiatives had an impact on local policy and practice. Policy makers in Newfoundland and Labrador have since implemented several recommendations for developing more socio-culturally responsive services that take into consideration the unique health-concerning needs of immigrants. Additionally, Ms. Reitmanova’s results were used in the development of a new Immigration Strategy released by the provincial government in March 2007, and the Canadian Mental Health Association released a mental health brochure that addressed some of the mental health information needs of the local immigrant community that she identified in her research.

Ms. Reitmanova said she is particularly grateful to Dr. Maria Mathews, associate professor of health policy and health care delivery, who teaches a graduate course on knowledge transfer and research uptake. “My knowledge translation work began as an assignment for her course. It’s not an easy process and I had to do a lot of work after I had completed my thesis. It required my patience and commitment, but I think there is great potential for introducing such a course in all graduate programs.”Ms. Reitmanova received her MD in 1997 in Bratislava, Slovakia, and her M.Sc. at Memorial University in 2006. Her current doctoral work is examining media discourses of immigrant tuberculosis and their relevance to current public health management policies relating to tuberculosis in Canada.

For further information on the Rising Star Award, visit