It was an amazing one hour that was not enough. We had great perspectives shared and great questions asked by the audience, who were mostly trainees from across Atlantic Canadian post-secondary institutions. Hope we will have other opportunities to continue this vibrant conversation.
John provided his insight and perspectives, which was the most interesting and exciting part of the session. My part of the talk was an extension of a smaller presentation I delivered earlier.
One question that left a mark in my mind was whether there was really an option for patient partners to contribute to bench/lab studies.
Around 5 years ago when I first started thinking about patient partnership, I thought about the same thing.
I thought “No way”. No way a patient partner can contribute our experimental design or interpretation of results. I was naive to think that there was no other way that they could contribute to our research. Maybe there is not – it is tough sometime, you know?
Over years, I have changed my research interests, partly because I started to partner with public members.
Now, we design studies together based on their priorities. Some partners are actively involved in improving our proposals and how we conduct studies. They bring new perspectives to our understanding. These are mostly non-lab studies, so it is easier for me to partner with and actively engage patient or public members in our studies.
What I suggested the trainee who asked this question was to challenge this and give it a try. I am curious about how their experience would be like.
In the meantime, this valuable question also made me envision a society where the distinction and division between the academics and public were gone. No more academic Ivory Towers. No more “Only I know what is right and wrong” kind of patronizing attitudes. How about we open our minds to everyone in the worldwide community and welcome them to contribute to academic endeavors?
The term “patient partner” or “public partner” is reductive. These terms restrict the qualities of these individuals to only their condition or public-related experiences. This is not right.
We have so much to learn from each other.
We can create one universal university by working together.
Imagine how rich would our understanding and outreach would be like. How empowering and creative.
Citizen science is something I watch carefully I believe it has a great role in increasing science (and in my case, health) literacy. I think science is for everyone and if we try, we can find ways for everyone to enjoy science and have a society with a scientific base.
Hope you are interested in citizen science and public/patient partnership. Give it a try.
Sevtap Savas, PhD. St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Oct 14, 2023