A humanitarian outlook on Health Science

Mariam Toluwalashe Omilabu is a fourth-year Health Studies student with a Pre-Clinal Specialization. She talks about her impactful co-op experiences and identifies some significant outcomes of her time in the healthcare industry so far. 

Mariam's co-op journey

An image of Mairam

Work term 1: Mariam was an investment services research analyst at the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, in the Trade and Investment Division. She conducted research on different industries in Ontario.

Work term 2: Mariam worked as an instructional technology support assistant at the Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, in the Center for Teaching and Learning. She mainly worked alongside professors and supported them in the building of their online courses during the pandemic.

Work terms 3, 4 and 5: Mariam’s next three work terms were at the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care (TLCPC), under Mount Sinai Hospital, as a research assistant. She supported the research team on quality improvement initiatives, and conducted research on various terminal illnesses, the social determinants of health, and interviewed physicians and patients to get their feedback on the practices of the care system.


Q and A with Mariam

Q: You seem to have accomplished a lot, but what is something you are proudest of?

A: “During my time at the TLCPC, one of my supervisors had an idea to create a tool that could screen the social determinants of health. She wanted it to be used by physicians and healthcare professionals to screen patients to check if they have issues that are not easy to bring up or address in normal conversation like food insecurity, transportation issues, etc.”

“In my time at TLCPC, we created the tool and piloted it three times with physicians and their patients. The tool is in the process of being implemented and added to electronic health records. Leading this project gave me the opportunity to present it to other physicians and hear their feedback on the tool.”

“Something else I am proud of is helping the hospital start building a process to collect patient feedback on the palliative care services they received. It was during that experience that I got to speak to bereaved caregivers and loved ones and I really learned how palliative care can provide comfort to people during a difficult time.”

Q: Do you recall any challenges you faced during this co-op term?

A: “A major challenge for me was imposter syndrome. As a student on a co-op term, I felt quite out of place when there were meetings with the director, research coordinators and physicians. I remember being rather shy to talk to such individuals. My supervisor really helped me overcome this challenge. I was comfortable with my supervisor and spoke to her about this issue I was having. She helped me by giving me ground to speak and advocate for my ideas to be heard, and the research coordinators and director were very welcoming of my ideas! Eventually, I was able to speak up on my own and contribute to the team.”

Q: What did you learn about yourself during co-op?

A: “I learned that I am an interactive presenter and speaker. I have the ability to keep people engaged in my ideas by explaining complicated information through stories. More specific to the job, I learned that I really want to spend my life helping people feel better and live their lives to the fullest. It was also difficult to cope with the sheer gravity of the reality many of these patients are faced with at the palliative care center. But I realized that my goal is quite simple; I want to help people live the way they want to live.”



Q: What did you learn in a professional sense that you would take to your future jobs?

A: “I learned the importance of health equity. The project I did on the social determinants of health allowed me to see how unfair the world really is. Some people do not have adequate amounts of income or social support and they shouldn’t suffer because of that. Therefore, I am always attempting to improve my techniques and research skills so that I can help in the reduction of health inequities. I want to work towards amplifying the voices of those who are not represented.”

Q: What’s next for you?

A: “Working at my most recent co-op has shown me that I really enjoy research. Therefore, I want to work in a similar position for a year before beginning medical school. Getting such experience would improve my knowledge walking into medical school, as it would allow me to have a holistic view of health beyond the biomedical model.”

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