Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
As both an MPH student and Public Health and Preventive Medicine Resident at the School of Population and Public Health, having fundamental skills in epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy, and leadership are fundamental. Pursuing a graduate degree in public health provided me with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills that I can use during my public health field rotations to improve and promote the health of the population. I found the MPH at UBC provided me with practical skills that I could apply directly in the field, especially on the frontline of public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
Living in BC does have its perks in terms of outdoor activities and fresh air! If you can see my answer below, I think it answers these two questions.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
Studying as a public health resident and MPH student at UBC has allowed me to engage with innovative and some of the foremost leaders in public health. The amount of opportunities to make a significant impact on public health policy and build innovative programs has been an incredible experience. I am grateful and humbled by all the mentors that have supported my learning thus far.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I think I have been surprised with how many opportunities there are at UBC and that faculty and researchers are excited to engage students to work with them. I also find that the UBC community is quite collaborative and a lot of public health professionals work closely with one another. Life in Vancouver has been great, especially during the pandemic. Being able to escape into the outdoors has been important for preventing me from burning out. I also don't mind the warm winters compared to what I am used to out east.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
Before COVID, I think enjoyed the socializing part of my MPH program. I found that I built an incredible community of friends while studying at UBC. We supported one another through some tough courses and also got to work collaboratively on some amazing projects. Some highlights include building a surveillance system to monitor alcohol use as well as working with a community organization to develop an evaluation plan for their program. I also enjoyed some very practical courses that taught me how to code in R and SAS as well as how to apply my epidemiological/biostatistical skills to real-life problems. Lastly, I will forever be grateful for my practicum and to have worked with the incredible team at Vancouver Coastal Health. They taught me so much of what it means to be a practicing public health professional that I will continue to carry as my residency training ensues.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
I have a lot of broad interests and passions in public health. Public health is such a diverse and broad field and as a public health physician, there are so many different types of careers one can have. I think finding the role where I fit into public health will be a challenge, but I am excited to see where the rest of my residency takes me.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
I feel the friends, mentors, and opportunities I have had so far from my MPH have provided me a lot of insight as to the type of work I want to do. I am excited to keep building, growing, and expanding my knowledge and skills. I feel that my MPH program was an excellent foundation to begin my journey as a public health resident physician.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Prior to coming to UBC, I completed my Bachelor's degree at McGill University where I worked as a research assistant in clinical epidemiology around HIV testing. This was got me passionate about public health and the impact that it can have on the lives of so many patients. I then completed my MD at the University of Toronto, where I was able to work with HIV community organizations across Toronto to help improve coordination and service delivery. In addition, a large focus of my clinical training involved integrating the social determinants of health into primary care clinical practice. I feel my opportunities in the past have shaped a lot of my passion for population health and primary care. I think having both a clinical and research perspective allowed to me better tailor my experiences and opportunities during my MPH. However, I still have a long way to go and a lot more to learn!
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
During COVID times I think face-timing or zooming with my friends and family has been relaxing and de-stressing. Going on walks along the sea wall, finding new bakeries/cafes to try their coffee and pastries, and just putting on a good mask after a long day are my key go-to activities. I also have found during COVID, a love for reading as a way to escape and relax.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Be open to all opportunities! Take courses that challenge you and will help build skills that you don't have. If you have specific interests or passions, reach out to faculty that align with them. Also, just enjoy the campus (if you have time)! I spent my first year exploring the Museum of Anthropology, Japanese and Rose Gardens, etc. It is an incredible place to escape some of the stresses of being a grad student.