Best research project of the year – Equality and Diversity among healthcare workforce in the United States

17.12.2020 | | Kari Jääskeläinen

As part of their undergraduate studies, our second-year students undertake a research project on a set theme. This year’s theme was Equality and Diversity.

The aim of this unit is to offer students the opportunity to engage in sustained research in a specific field of study. The unit enables students to demonstrate the capacity and ability to identify a research theme, develop a research aim and objectives and present the outcomes of their research. The unit also encourages students to reflect on their engagement in the research process, during which recommendations for future, personal development are key learning points.

Research skills are as vital for the workplace as they are for academic development. They enable students to identify problems, collect and evaluate relevant information and come up with effective solutions. These are seen as essential skills by employers for most positions in industry to support a range of duties: for example, report writing, building a business case, business planning, launching a new product or service.

This unit started in May (during the lockdown) and final report submissions were due in October. Most of the instruction and supervision took place in a virtual classroom as the visiting professor, Dr Costas Theodoridis, was unable to travel to Finland from the UK.

Each year we award a commendation for the best research project, nominated by the instructor. This year’s commendation was awarded to Katriina Tilly.

“Over this past summer I was given the opportunity to research and write a thesis on the topic surrounding equality and diversity. I spent my summer months researching the impact of an ethnically diverse healthcare workforce in the United States. I was extremely interested in studying this question because of the global pandemic each of us face. I thought it may be challenging to find physicians to interview, due to their tight schedules; however, I found that each were very accommodating and excited to have a discussion on the impact of ethnic diversity within the healthcare workforce. In addition to interviews, Ispent several hours reading and annotating medical journals in order to get a wider range of knowledge.

Throughout the process of conducting research, my main challenge was finding the right physicians to interview. I needed to pull together a diverse background of doctors, both ethnically diverse and workplace related diverse. This challenge turned into a great learning experience. It made me push myself to critically think about who I wanted to have a discussion with, and then upon determining this I needed to reach out and clearly explain what I was doing and why. I learned the importance of clearcommunication and building relationships with people even after they have given you what you need in the moment.

Today many companies and individuals are having discussions on the general theme of equality and diversity, specifically how it pertains to their business. In my opinion, it was a great topic for HELBUS students to study and write on because of its current day importance, but also because it gave students the freedom to mold such a large theme into a unique research question.” -Katriina Tilly

“Katriina’s work has been deeply insightful and a testament of how a student project can address complex business and management challenges. She took the initiative to adapt her work to the needs of the context she researched and managed to produce a piece of empirical work that can be used as the foundation for future research development. Katriina’s research focussed on a very sensitive topic, however she managed to deal with it with due attention and respect. It is also commendable that Katriina did her project abroad and under all the restrictions that were placed by COVID-19, nevertheless, she managed to reflect on the cultural differences, adapt to the practical challenges and deliver this high quality output” -Dr Costas Theodoridis

Kari Jääskeläinen


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