Aging, Community and Health Research Group (ACHRU)

McMaster University


ACHRU Trainee Annie Lam Receives MScN

The resilience of caregivers and their ongoing efforts to support family members is what inspires Annie Lam and it continues to drive her nursing practice and research.

Lam recently successfully defended her thesis to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MScN) degree. Her thesis looks at caregivers' transition experiences in providing care to older adults with dementia and multiple chronic conditions.

“Having my MScN means I have better skills and advanced training in conducting nursing research, implementing evidence-based nursing practice, and in my case, geriatrics,” says the ACHRU trainee. “It has provided me with more opportunities to work in an advanced practice nursing role where I am able to utilize my expertise in gerontological nursing.”

The ACHRU asked Lam a few questions about her research and her MScN in honour of National Family Caregivers Month.

Q: Why do you choose to focus on this area of research?

A: My area of research is in dementia care and supporting caregivers of persons with dementia and multiple chronic conditions. I work in specialized geriatrics and encounter many older adults with and without dementia on a daily basis. Caregivers play such a crucial role in supporting older adults in the community and many caregivers are instrumental to care management. I believe that all caregivers and older adults are trying their very best to be healthy and age well in the community. Unfortunately, I do not think that they get enough recognition for the amount of unpaid work that they do. There are also multiple health care system issues currently, particularly around adequacy and appropriateness of health and social services and supports in the community. This is a huge barrier to supporting caregivers and older adults. I am inspired by my caregivers' resilience and ongoing efforts to support their family members; this continues to drive both my practice in gerontological nursing, as well as my research work.

Q. What is the title of your thesis? Can you please describe it? What ACHRU study is your thesis based?

A. The title of my thesis is: Transition Experiences of Caregivers of Older Adults with Dementia and Multiple Chronic Conditions: An Interpretive Description.

You can find my thesis on MacSphere here

My thesis looks at caregivers' transition experiences in providing care to someone with dementia and multiple chronic conditions. In particular, I focused on the influence of multiple chronic conditions on dementia transition experiences. My thesis was based on two areas that I wanted to explore. The first was the transition experiences of caregivers, not specific to transitions between care sectors, but more in relation to the nature of the caregiver's role. The second area was around the presence of multiple chronic conditions. We know that many older adults with dementia have at least two additional chronic conditions. Little is known about how caregivers perceive these conditions as influencing the caregiving experience.

My thesis is a sub-study of ACHRU Study 5, which is a multi-site pragmatic mixed methods randomized control trial examining the effectiveness of a self-administered online toolkit called MyTools4Care (MT4C) for family caregivers of persons with dementia and multiple chronic conditions. Recruitment and data collection are finishing up in Ontario and Alberta, and we are moving forward in data analysis and report writing.

Q. How do you feel about earning your Masters?

A. I feel proud and very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with such amazing and inspiring researchers and nurses throughout my Masters. I have to extend the warmest and most sincere thanks to my supervisory committee, Dr. Jenny Ploeg, Dr. Carrie McAiney, Dr. Wendy Duggleby and Dr. Sandra Carroll. It has been an amazing journey and I would do it again if I had the chance.

I feel so much love and thankfulness for McMaster University, the School of Nursing and the ACHRU. They have supported me immensely and in so many different ways. They continue to support me as I further develop my skills and knowledge in nursing research and clinical geriatrics. 

Published on: November 8, 2016

By Study