Sarah served as mPOWEr’s first patient advisor from 2013-2014. A recent graduate of the University of Washington, she encountered mPOWEr while exploring a career as a physician, interested in opportunities to volunteer on a research project to gain research experience. However, after talking with Dr. Evans, Sarah became interested in offering a patient perspective to mPOWEr, due to her previous experience with a surgical site infection after her own surgery two years ago. She began collaborating with the mPOWEr team in the Spring of 2013 and was involved with design of the mPOWEr application and writing additional funding applications.
When she first began working with the mPOWEr team, Sarah says that she did not immediately recognize the importance of what she had to offer to the team of highly trained and experienced researchers. But, she says, she quickly learned, “my value is my patient experience! My mere presence focuses the team with a more patient-centered approach and helps to design a tool that patients will actually use. As an advisor, I provide the patient voice and ensure that the issues most important to patients are continually represented.”
Sarah believes that patient involvement in research is extremely important. She says, “after getting involved as a Patient Advisor on mPOWEr, it occurred to me that as a patient, our stake in research isn’t in the professional capacity, but it affects us in a very personal way. Patients intimately feel the consequences of disease and illness, and research influences treatment. We can help address gaps in the healthcare system and inform the most useful interventions, yet we are a vastly underutilized resource. I truly believe that patients should not only be on the receiving end of healthcare, but also be contributors to medical research, policy-making, and practice.”