"Students in the Spotlight" is a conversation series with members of the SofC Urban Leadership Fellowship and Academy program
What are your research and engagement interests?
I have been passionate about topics in health services research and health policy since I was exposed to these fields in my first year of university. Within the area of health services research, my interests revolve around value-based healthcare, which is a method of care delivery that emphasizes patients’ health outcomes and their experiences within the healthcare system. A key component of this approach is having the ability to include patient perspectives in policy and procedural decisions. In my current project, I am gathering perspectives around the implementation of health outcome measurement initiatives to better understand factors that affect patient engagement. The goal of my work is to help providers gather information that represents the experiences of all patients.
What has motivated your interests and journey? How do you hope to make a difference?
I am thankful to have had so many great mentors throughout my time at university; they have all helped me get more involved in subjects that I was interested in, such as health services research. I was also exposed to the realities of the healthcare system through my own family and friends’ experiences with chronic disease management, where I believed that it was possible to improve the timeliness and quality of services through better understanding patient perspectives. I hope to continue my work in this field, with the goal of helping Canada’s healthcare system become more patient-centered, equitable and sustainable.
What’s the latest project you have been working on that you would like to share with the SofC audiences?
For my project with the SofC Urban Leadership Fellowship and Academy Program, I am examining the variety of methods that care providers use to gather patient perspectives and patient health outcome data, in the hopes of creating a framework that can help clinical leaders with the implementation of data-driven quality improvement projects in the future. I believe it is important to measure patient perspectives in care, because that is how we truly determine whether the services we provide have an impact on patients’ health and well-being. In addition to examining case studies from around the world, I am also reaching out to several stakeholders within Canada’s healthcare system to better understand issues facing the equitable and timely delivery of health services.
As a student, researcher and or activist, what have you learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and its global impact? How do you envision post-pandemic recovery? What do you hope for?
I believe this pandemic has exacerbated issues in our healthcare systems. Even before the pandemic, patients were waiting up to 8 years for some elective surgeries, and there were large regional variations in the quality and accessibility of health services available to Canadians. When this pandemic hit, it highlighted issues in current care practices (such as the unacceptable operational practices in LTC) and it further emphasized the need to adequately address social and economic influences on health and well-being. I am hopeful that this increased attention will help catalyze positive change and will encourage leaders to work together to implement sustainable and equitable solutions. This pandemic has shown that it is possible for all levels of government to work cooperatively and promptly to address urgent healthcare needs.
Please share with us your experiences at the SofC. How do you think being a member of the SofC Urban Leadership Fellowship and Academy Program has contributed to your scholarship and added to your experience as a student?
I am really proud of all the interdisciplinary work being done in the SofC Urban Leadership Fellowship and Academy Program, and I am thankful to be part of such a motivated group of young leaders. I believe a major strength of the School of Cities Academy is that everyone brings diverse experiences and perspectives, which helps us deepen our understanding of urban issues. I personally have benefited from the conversations with other students and with my mentors, where we often share ideas and perspectives that help guide our leadership initiatives.
Any final words or message?
I believe there's always a way to help catalyze positive changes. Through my discussions with individuals who were passionately driven to improve public health, I learned that it is helpful to keep long-term goals in mind, especially when faced with barriers and setbacks. Through this project, I also learned that teamwork and collaboration are essential to leading change, and often, leading incremental changes can have a significant positive impact. I would like to thank my colleague in bioethics, Abizar Meghani, for his assistance during the development of my framework. I would also like to extend a special thanks to all the healthcare stakeholders and SofC members that took the time to share their work and perspectives with me.
Konrad Samsel is a 4th year undergraduate student at Victoria College in The University of Toronto. He is passionate about health services research and the impact of technology on healthcare. His studies and experiences reflect his interests in medicine and innovation. He previously held a summer fellowship at the UofT Engineering Hatchery, examining how health-IT could improve the quality of life in diabetic patients. He has also been a research assistant at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Division of Urology, and a Laboratory Instructor at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine. He hopes to gather perspectives surrounding health outcomes measurement, and how healthcare systems can improve data collection to better engage patients in their care.