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Shania Sheth places 1st in Sunnybrook Research Institute Poster Competition

Congratulations to second-year Bachelor of Health Sciences student Shania Sheth on placing first in the Sunnybrook Research Institute Poster Competition this summer. Shania finished first among more than 50 students, ranging from undergraduate to graduate to medical students, for her research on a Health Equity Passport for Medical Resident Training.

How did you get involved at Sunnybrook and in the research you’ve been a part of?

The Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) is one of the largest research centres in Canada, based in the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Ontario. SRI runs a Summer Student Research program each year to provide undergraduate students with a unique hospital-based research experience. I’ve known about this highly competitive program since high school, and I was really excited to have the opportunity to apply. I was able to connect with a Principal Investigator working on Health Equity research, Dr. Stephanie Zhou, and we submitted a joint application to the SRI program. Our application was successful, and we also won an award given to the top 25 ranked applications. At the end of the summer, all research students were invited to present their work at the prestigious SRI Research Poster Competition.

Can you provide a short summary about your research project?

My research project was titled “Health Equity Passport: A Tool for Medical Resident Training”. I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Dr. Zhou, a researcher, physician, and educator, to create a compact tool for first- and second-year family medicine residents to use during their residency training. The tool aims to help residents become more comfortable treating vulnerable populations and addressing the social determinants of health in order to improve health equity. I created and designed an evidence-based “passport” with learning objectives that would help guide residents through the skills, training, and competencies they would need to feel confident providing quality care to four populations. These four populations were individuals with low socioeconomic status, immigrants & refugees, members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, and members of the Indigenous community. At the end of the summer, I presented my research project at the SRI Research Poster Competition along with over 50 students.

What interests you about this field of study?

This field of study is very intriguing because the research uses integrated knowledge translation to improve health equity for patients. It utilizes evolving research on best clinical practices to inform current and future clinicians on how health equity can be achieved. The Health Equity Passport we are developing allows residents to feel more empowered to treat a variety of patient populations. Achieving health equity is a monumental endeavour that cannot be accomplished overnight, but I am grateful for the opportunity to work on research in this field of study that has begun to pave the way for more equitable medical practices.

How has the BHSc program helped prepare you for this experience?

The BHSc program provided me with foundational knowledge and highlighted the importance of being a leader and health advocate. I believe this tied seamlessly into the health equity research I conducted. In a field that values patient-centered care, considering a wide variety of perspectives and backgrounds was vital to creating a tool that advocates for a wide range of patients. The BHSc core courses provided me with a comprehensive understanding of the social determinants of health and research techniques allowing me to conduct my research effectively and fully grasp its significance and implications.

What skills have you learned from this experience that you think will be helpful in the future?

Through my experience with the SRI Summer Research Program, I developed a variety of skills and gained valuable experiential knowledge. I learned how to conduct a literature review, an essential part of conducting research in an evaluative clinical sciences platform. I also learned how to read research papers and extract the most relevant pieces of information, which I believe will be invaluable throughout my career, especially as a student. Finally, I learned how to create and present a scientific research poster that can effectively communicate a research project’s background information, objectives, results, significance, and future implications. 

What advice would you give to other BHSc students?

The BHSc program is designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the field of health sciences and beyond. I would encourage BHSc students to approach every opportunity the program provides with a positive mindset to gain the most from every group discussion, writing assignment, poster presentation, and more. Additionally, I suggest students take the initiative to participate in activities they are truly passionate about, whether it is research, student-led clubs, non-profit organizations, or extracurricular activities. I believe that being curious and finding experiential ways to gain knowledge will help shape your perspective of the world and your place in it.