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For many of us, September is more symbolic of new beginnings than January 1st. I have always loved getting ready for school, starting afresh and beginning a new school year with a slate wiped clean and waiting for me to fill it up with things I had learned or skills I had honed. This year, more than any in my memory, the idea of wiping the slate clean and starting fresh is especially meaningful.

At CAHSPR, we are looking forward to new beginnings brimming with fresh ways of engaging with members of our community. To do this, we are taking time to reflect, to ask questions, and to think creatively about how we can better serve our community.

As a first step to enhancing what your association provides for you, we have spent hours debriefing about the first “Virtually CAHSPR” conference and pouring over the generous feedback provided to us from many of the more than 1,200 people who registered for our conference. Thank you!

“It was a great idea to have a virtual conference. Made it accessible to a broader audience. CAHSPR is an important association and such good research is done in Canada, much of which is unknown. This venue has the potential of getting research ‘out there’…Thank you for doing it”. (Attendee comment)

So, what did you tell us? What have we learned? How will we incorporate your insights into the work of CAHSPR? We have analyzed the survey results, talked to members and a broad range of partners, and have captured these reflections in “2020 Virtually CAHSPR Conference: In a Word”. You can read the full report here but let me summarize for you. The report focuses on the words that resonated with attendees about CAHSPR and the conference and that were prominent in the post conference assessments.

In a word, these are:

Accessible – The realities of a healthcare system under massive strain, and the associated realities of social distancing that mandated working from home meant we made it a priority that our first virtual event would be accessible.

Relevant – Members of the health services and policy community are immersed in the demands of the pandemic, and their time is valuable. Our Virtually CAHSPR event was highly relevant and engaging by design.

Visionary – Supporting and recognizing the importance of young emerging researchers in Canada is a key component of CAHSPR’s visionary strategy for supporting a vital community of health service research. Despite having to change our format, we aimed to provide opportunities for students and emerging researchers to present their work and to learn from keynote speakers who are thought leaders in Canadian health services. Click here for Virtually CAHSPR Content.

Excellence – The intention of the Board and Scientific Committee was to design a conference experience for members and other community members that had excellence embedded in every presentation, discussion and exchange.

Community – CAHSPR’s success is dependent on the recognition that community plays an essential role in our work and the work our researchers undertake. While COVID19 limited our ability to have face to face interactions, it has not reduced our appetite for interaction. Our community continues to grow and evolve despite the pandemic and we will continue to reach out for your insights and ideas.

Inclusivity – Virtually CAHSPR welcomed more than 1,200 registrants this year. In addition to our core researcher members, there was the welcome presence of patient partners, decision makers and clinicians to name a few. We are proud that “Virtually CAHSPR” was seen as an exemplar of inclusivity as all with an interest in our program were welcome, free of charge.

Gratitude – It is no accident that this word comes last. We are profoundly grateful to our members, stakeholders, speakers, and sponsors for partnering with us through this new experience as we quickly moved from planning an in-person conference to a virtual one within a matter of weeks. We are grateful for the insights gleaned from your post conference assessments.

Your support and your generous feedback will inform our work going forward and will pave the way for future innovation as we do our best to understand and meet the needs of the health services and policy research community. It is our hope that you will be a part of this movement.

If you are a CAHSPR member, we welcome your energy and your involvement. Watch for announcements about new working groups, a member survey, a stakeholder survey, the evolution of theme groups and other ways to get involved!

If you are not yet a member, consider becoming one so that you can join us in creating something exciting at CAHSPR and in supporting our community as we seek to improve healthcare and health systems in Canada.

You can join CAHSPR today at

Maggie Keresteci

Executive Director, CAHSPR