Our Common Threads through the Commonwealth Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship Program (CTC-QES Program) sends Canadian students abroad on scholarships and internships in Commonwealth countries, working on projects whose goals are to address problems in health, equity and wellbeing in innovative ways. In this section, we'll share some of their personal reflections and stories about their internship experiences, contributions, and some of the fun they had along the way.
2015-2016 Queen Elizabeth Scholar
Eva spent a few weeks this Summer exploring the Arctic as a QES representative with the Students on Ice Foundation (https://studentsonice.com/). Here are a few of her reflections:
To begin the voyage, the Students on Ice expedition team flew to Resolute Bay, Nunavut and was present for the opening of Qausuittuq National Park. We then sailed through Lancaster Sound visiting sites of cultural and historical significance. We landed in Pond Inlet to celebrate the new Arctic marine conservation area. Following this, we sailed to Greenland and visited small towns, ice fjords, and glaciers. Overall, the trip provided an eye-opening examination of Canadian and Inuit history, climate change, and an exploration of self. This experience also proves invaluable to my current and future research. My research is focused on depression and diabetes, both of which are highly prevalent in the Arctic. Meeting people living with these conditions in the North deepened my understanding of the impact of these conditions and challenges of disease prevention.
I would like to thank the generosity of Queen Elizabeth Scholars, Universities Canada, and Community Foundations Canada in making this trip possible for me.
2015-2016 Queen Elizabeth Scholar
A year later: health equity training for emerging leaders and turning research to practice
It’s been a year since I finished my internship in Australia at the Bureau of Health Information (BHI), and two years since I was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship (QES) via McGill’s Institute for Health and Social Policy (IHSP). For those unfamiliar with the award, the QES is an opportunity for young leaders to explore global challenges by engaging in cross-disciplinary research in Commonwealth countries around the world. Through an Innovation Learning Network and an in-depth Leadership Development Program, the IHSP QE Scholars work with community partners, policy-makers, and partner organizations across the Commonwealth to share novel approaches and ideas for future research, policy, and practice.
In 2015/2016, the inaugural cohort of scholars spent the school year engaging in discussions about existing structures of governance, citizen involvement and agency, international development, foreign aid, global well-being and health equity, and moving from complex ideas to practice. After a year of insightful weekly meetings and workshops, the scholars set off on their individual journeys in various parts of the world.
In April 2016, I went to work at BHI in Chatswood, a board-governed organization that publishes reports about the performance of the New South Wales public healthcare system. My project in particular was supported by the Innovative Models Promoting Access to Care Transformation (IMPACT) team, which is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute, and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé. When I first set off to complete this project, I wanted to better understand how our healthcare system compared to Australia’s healthcare system.
Though my enthusiasm was high, my initial objective was quite broad. Thankfully the supportive team at BHI helped me better-define my work, my methodology, and the overall scope of my project. One of the best ways to understand healthcare systems is through understanding the experiences of those who interact with the system on a regular basis. Over the course of my internship I worked with Commonwealth Fund international survey data to assess levels of agreement between patients (aged 55 and older) and healthcare provider experiences on various key elements of performance reporting. The focus on older populations is especially crucial at a time when seniors make up a bigger share of Canada’s population than children, and this trend is set to continue in upcoming decades. Instead of looking at only Australia and Canada, we also analyzed the data across 9 other jurisdictions to compare where exactly all countries sit with respect to others. Results from these methods were also triangulated to interpret the overall agreement in perspectives for each measure pair.
This year, our work on comparing healthcare performance assessment in international surveys is being presented at North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) Conference. The NAPCRG is the world’ largest organization devoted to research in primary care and promotes new knowledge to guide improvement, redesign, and transformation in primary care. Our research is also currently under review for Health Expectations – an international journal on public participation in health care and health policy.
Apart from sharing our work in the academic realm, my time at BHI inspired me to think further about healthcare systems and systems change. In June of 2016 – near the end of my internship – I applied for MaRS Innovation Hub’s Studio [Y] fellowship (situated in Toronto). Studio [Y] is a full-time experiential learning opportunity that awards 25 innovative thinkers in Ontario with funding and mentorship to spend 8-months researching, prototyping, and implementing solutions to systems challenges. As a fellow, my involvement in a multidisciplinary collaborative environment led to the creation of an interactive digital platform that aims to improve care receiver and caregiver communication in Ontario across the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (and perhaps, in the future, across Canada).
My story is just one example of the type of influence opportunities like the QES can have. As a budding professional interested in health equity (both in Canada and globally), awards like the QES allowed me to explore questions beyond the bounds of my immediate geography and network. I highly encourage this opportunity for all those who have an enduring curiosity to better understand our world, and have a meaningful commitment to addressing the emerging challenges in it.
Ga Eun Lee
2016-2017 Queen Elizabeth Scholar
Our #QEScholars have been taking full advantage of their time in-country! Here, African Population Health Research Centre intern Ga Eun Lee (MScPH candidate) plays violin with the Nairobi Orchestra in Nairobi, Kenya.