What are you currently working on?
I'm currently investigating user acceptance and adherence of wearable sensors among older adults for long-term sensor data collection for the University's Health Data Science Lab. I'm also pursuing a small project with a start-up in Waterloo to determine the feasibility of using virtual reality therapy in older adults' lives. You can read more about these projects on my website.
I recently started my own consulting firm where I work with Ontario's Competency Evaluation Institution as a Management and IT Consultant, supporting the transition of internationally educated health professionals into the Canadian healthcare system. In September 2016, I will be moving to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to further my career in public health informatics, hopefully assisting with the EMR/EHR deployment for the province.
What exactly are EMR/EHR and how do they impact our health care services?
EMR/EHR are Electronic Medical Records and Electronic Health Records. Western provinces (not Saskatchewan, unfortunately) are relatively ahead in terms of having integrated health information systems and electronic medical records at a provincial level. Ontario is placing heavy focus on accelerating this integration in order to harness the data analysis power of "Big Data".
Simply put, "big data" refers to very large data sets that have the potential to reveal trends using machine learning and computational analysis, patterns that wouldn't otherwise be identifiable by statisticians and/or researchers. For example, in one on my graduate courses, my group of students developed a real time H1N1 monitoring system harnessing Ontario Laboratory Information Systems (OLIS) to provide near-real time data to predict disease spread BEFORE a disaster/epidemic takes place.
How did you apply what you learned at UWaterloo?
The critical-thinking skills I developed in my Sociology coursework was instrumental in shaping my career. Understanding how to conduct research, learning quantitative/qualitative research methods, and getting experience proposal writing were probably the most useful skills I learned which are also directly applicable to report-writing in the industry. However, as Sociologists, we are also taught to ask "why?" and this has allwed me to become an investigative researcher who consistently looks beyond the surface to understand "why" things are the way they are.
In particular, I loved every minute of Dr. Aurini's Sociology of Organizations course, including the course work. Dr. McClinchey, with his Sociology of Education course, has been a huge positive influence for me.
What advice would you give to current students?
Don't be afraid to pursue different career and volunteer opportunities. You never know why they might lead to. Try your best to give back to the community and strengthen your network of colleagues and friends. Pursue something you are passionate about - it will reflect in your work!