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18th Qualitative Health Research (QHR) conference

We were fortunate enough to have a poster abstract accepted for the 18th Qualitative Health Research (QHR) conference to be held in Montreal. We had submitted an abstract for the conference during the early stages of the project and therefore didn’t have enough data to submit a paper abstract. However we were happy to have the opportunity to present our work to an international audience so early on in our project.

This was our first international conference and our first conference that was health related. The conference was held at the Marriot Chateau Champlain in Montreal right on the heart of the city. To make the most of my time in Montreal I was also booked onto a workshop the day before the conference commenced and a visit was arranged by Professor Roger Kneebone for me to visit the McGill simulation centre.

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I arrived in Montreal after transporting the rather large poster (the dimensions for Canada and the USA are larger for poster presentations than in the UK) from Toronto. On my first morning I visited the McGill simulation centre which was bizarrely enough located in an underground shopping mall. I was met by Linda Crelinsten who is the Assistant Director of the Arnold and Blema Steinberg Medical Simulation Centre. She showed me around the extensive simulation suites and gave me an insight into their multidisciplinary approach to Simulation at McGill.

That afternoon I attended a QHR workshop on writing grant proposals which was facilitated by Alexander M. Clark, Professor and Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta. The workshop was a useful insight into what funders wanted and as Professor Clark had been on the board of many funding bodies himself, it was very insightful. However the workshop was more than insightful, it had a very encouraging message around the importance of continuing to apply for funding, even after rejection and how we can always learn something from rejections in order to improve our writing. Workshops like these are a great opportunity not only to fill a knowledge gap but also to pick the brains of experts in the field.

The next day was the start of the conference, immediately it was clear that the conference had been very well organised and the location was perfect for such an event of its size. The conference was commenced by Barbara Paterson which was a wonderful way to start the conference. Barbara has a wealth of experience but also has a style and sense of humour that had everyone captivated. Other key notes speakers included John Paley and a panel consisting of Joan Eakin, Eric Mykhalovskiy and Barbara Gibson.

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Around 60 presentations ran on each day and the quality of them made it hard to choose, however the variety of methods and subjects ensured the audience didn’t become bored or fatigued. As I was most interested in learning more about the methodologies and types of analysis researchers were using I picked presentations mainly based on this, however I did indulge myself with some of my favourite subject areas too.

However the conference wasn’t just about the presenters but the key-note speakers chosen were also an important aspect. The conference was also very interactive with tasks being set and small groups being formed in order to ensure better participation. This and other aspects created a wonderful inclusive atmosphere throughout the conference. The first afternoon round table discussion was a personal reflection called a pechakucha where you show 20 images for 20 seconds each and reflect on them. This was done by Alex Clark and Jude Spiers and was very entertaining. The second afternoon was very interactive with the audience being split into small groups and being asked to make a short video clip around research dissemination. These video clips were then shown to the audience and placed on q-tube (qualitative research’s own version of You tube). The final afternoon required participants to move around tables and discuss with each other ways in which to promote connections in qualitative research. This was a great opportunity to see how people from a variety of places had achieved or not achieved this.

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The poster presentations were mainly viewed during the breaks, however they were allowed to stay up until the end of the day giving people the opportunity to view them at their leisure. I was surprised by the amount of interest in our poster and enjoyed my time discussing the project with those interested. This also continued throughout the conference. We had created some leaflets of the poster for people to take away if they didn’t have the time to look in great detail then and there.

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In the evening two events were held: a graduates reception and a cocktail reception which were a great opportunity for the conference attendees to network and discuss aspects of health research further. The cocktail reception was held in the hotels Café conc and a choir played creating a relaxed fun atmosphere.

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Throughout the conference attendees commented on how well organised and run the conference was. I myself came away with a feeling of better connectedness and understanding of the qualitative health research world. I felt I learnt more than expected and made invaluable connections. This innovative and well run conference deserves all the praise it received and I look forward to attending again next year.

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