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Banting postdoctoral fellow to explore experiences of health inequity in primary care

The winner of a prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship begins her work at McMaster University’s Department of Family Medicine in September.

Monica Molinaro is one of the 23 national recipients of the fellowships awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). She will be supervised by Meredith Vanstone, and work closely with Gina Agarwal and Gabrielle Inglis, faculty members in the department of family medicine.

The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships are offered to scholars who have a record of research excellence and leadership, have proposed a research program of exceptionally high quality, and have demonstrated commitment from their chosen institution, and synergy between the institution’s strategic priorities and their own research goals. The award is worth $70,000 a year for two years.

Molinaro is returning to McMaster. She earned an honours bachelor of life sciences degree from McMaster in 2014. She went on to complete a master of science in kinesiology from Wilfrid Laurier University and a doctorate in health and rehabilitation sciences from Western University.

Through her research, Molinaro will explore health care provider and patient experiences of health inequity in primary care.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the relationship between health outcomes and social inequity experienced by Canadians. At the same time, there has been more attention to the daily challenges of health care providers, including moral distress and mental well-being,” said Molinaro.

Gina Agarwal, professor in the Department of Family Medicine and physician at McMaster Family Practice, can related to these experiences.

“As a family physician working in inner-city Hamilton, working with patients who are marginalized, it’s very hard because you really feel for patients’ stories,” she said.

“It’s very difficult when you don’t have everything in your toolbox that you can use to help the patient and it leaves you feeling a little bit inadequate and it’s hard to know what to do with those feelings.”

Through a narrative qualitative research methodology, Molinaro will allow both health care providers and patients to tell their stories.

“Together, these stories can inform policy and education reform in a way which serves needs of the most marginalized members of Canadian society,” she said.

Molinaro’s research will be supervised by Meredith Vanstone, associate professor of family medicine and member of McMaster Education Research, Innovation & Theory program (MERIT) and the university’s Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis (CHEPA).

“Monica’s proposed research grapples with some of the most complex work that we ask our health care providers to do within the Canadian healthcare system,” said Vanstone.

Molinaro’s research will take place within the David Braley Primary Care Research Collaborative, a newly endowed research cluster situated in the Department of Family Medicine with the aim of producing policy and clinically relevant research to strengthen the primary care system.

“My research bridges medical education, health policy, and primary care, three topics in which McMaster University has been recognized as a world-leader,” said Molinaro.

Watch Monica, Meredith & Gina discuss the project below:

McMaster University Department of Family MedicineMichael G. DeGroote School of Medicine