Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Vital connections with each other and with our environment: Meet Dr. Patti Hansen-Ketchum

March 16th, 2023
Dr. Patti Hansen-Ketchum

“What excites me the most about research are the outcomes of the findings; the possibilities of contributing to and mobilizing knowledge to influence change at various levels for health and well-being in communities and teaching and learning in academia.”  ~ Dr. Patti Hansen-Ketchum

Vital connections with each other and with our environments 

Meet StFX Rankin School of Nursing faculty Dr. Patti Hansen-Ketchum

Dr. Patti Hansen-Ketchum is a professor and the former director of the StFX Rankin School of Nursing. Her research focuses on creating healthy spaces and our vital connection with each other and our environments. More recently, she has been working on a collaborative provincial study on nursing online experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Hansen-Ketchum teaches (and learns, she says) numerous courses within the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, particularly in health promotion, population health, health systems, community health, leadership and professional practice. 

Tell me about your research program.

I completed my PhD from the University of Alberta, an opportunity to develop an integrated approach to environmental health and health promotion which shaped my current research program. Via research studies, I have aimed to generate ecologically-informed knowledge about our vital connections with each other and our environments, including healthy settings in complex systems. And further, to explore and examine interventions within health and community systems for the promotion of health across populations and contexts including, for example, access to green space, access to healthy foods, and barriers and facilitators to community-based resources among others. However, over the last several years during the pandemic, I have been primarily involved in a collaborative provincial study on ‘Nursing Faculty and Student Online Experiences Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic’ as well as in the implementation of our program evaluation framework, which is based on logical models for continuous quality improvement involving data collection, analysis, and action plans. 

What drew you to health research?   

Research and evaluation work drives my professional life and at many levels my personal life as well. My experiences over the years have helped to insight into the value of research, fueling passion about building and mobilizing informed evidence to support ever-evolving upstream strategies for life-long teaching-learning, health, and healthy community-based environments. 

What impact has this research had?

The research into healthy spaces helps to understand, create and evaluate health-promoting resources accessible in varying contexts and contributes to healthy settings where people live and work. My work, around COVID-19 and online learning, provides opportunities to consider new innovative strategies and best practices for teaching and learning based on the barriers and facilitators experienced in nursing programs during the pandemic. 

How did you become a researcher?

Years ago, during my undergraduate program, I was a research assistant for a nursing professor who led a clinical trial at a local hospital. It was then I became hooked to research. I was engaged in data collection and fascinated by the process, impressed by the knowledge gained via research findings that were then implemented in practice for the betterment of patient care. Years later, I returned to academia to do my masters degree. While developing and implementing my own and first research study at the time, I was also hired as a research assistant involved in participant recruitment and data collection for a large provincial health (cancer) study, led by another nursing professor. From there I was subsequently hired as a research consultant for the province (New Brunswick) particularly focused on health-related data in long term care facilities. Each experience helped build a repertoire of research insights and skillsets that informed my PhD studies, research grant applications, and program of research. Research has been instrumental to my application of theory to practice in nursing and health and of course, to my teaching and learning with students and colleagues.      

What excites you about being a researcher at StFX?

What excites me the most about research are the outcomes of the findings; the possibilities of contributing to and mobilizing knowledge to influence change at various levels for health and well-being in communities and teaching and learning in academia.    

What’s something surprising about yourself that people wouldn’t know?

I also love abstract art, animals and…kickboxing!

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