Path to Involvement – Zarah


Fresh from graduate school, Zarah was excited to find work in supporting partnerships


I work as the strategy patient-oriented research program facilitator, which is a mouthful, but essentially it means that I am lucky enough to work with the Ottawa Methods centre coordinating the support program on the ground here. And so that is to say that we facilitate and help to support researchers who are looking to partner with patients in their research, both at the institutional level and then more locally as well, so either within the Ottawa community or within the province.

And I’ve been working at this position for the past three years. I got into it in kind of a funny way. I was straight out of my master’s degree, and I studied global health and public policy. And I was very interested in that policy piece, so I already understood how policy comes to be and the importance of evidence-based policies, and things like that. And I also already had an understanding of like health inequalities and things like that. And so I came across this job description, and I was reading up on it, and I was like, “oh, research that involves patients in guiding and determining, from the outset, what it is that we’re going to study”. And I just though, how is that not already the way that we do things? It was kind of like a “duh” moment for me.

And so I applied, and I was so excited about it. And that was exactly the way that I explained the position to people who asked me about it – it was just like, yeah, we’re conducting research in partnership with the people who are meant to use it. And it just felt so obvious to me, so inherent to me. And so I was lucky enough to get hired, and it has been interesting because it was then – and still a little bit is – kind of a relatively new field where we’re just still kind of like figuring things out together, and so there was a lot of learning when I first started. And I think it’s different from a lot of positions in that I get to take my time in learning and collaborating with people, and just being as open as possible and as flexible as possible to listen to my patients and learn from them.

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