First Year Review : A Student’s Perspective

“One year of TRP done! It’s been busy and eye-opening.” Meet Kathleen Camaya, a registered nurse (RN) in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the Hospital for Sick Children. She’s been working at SickKids for 9 years and is …

“One year of TRP done! It’s been busy and eye-opening.”

Meet Kathleen Camaya, a registered nurse (RN) in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the Hospital for Sick Children. She’s been working at SickKids for 9 years and is entering her second year in the Translational Research Program (TRP) at the University of Toronto.

Now that you’ve completed your first year, what are your thoughts?

“From day one, Rich (TRP Instructor) and Joseph (TRP Director and Instructor) encouraged us to network and get out of our comfort zone. I feel like I finally got what they were talking about at the end of the year.”

Change doesn’t happen in isolation, and the TRP encourages students to cross between the silos of healthcare to form meaningful connections that can lead to interdisciplinary collaborations. The program aims to not only instruct, but inspire students to drive change in their communities.

What drew you to this program?

“I didn’t want a theory-based program. I wanted something hands on and TRP sounded like a program that was unique and forward thinking. I liked that it was open to various fields in health care with a focus on the patient or end user.”

The TRP is more than just courses or projects, it will change the way you think about health-related problems and gaps. This two-year, course-based professional degree is designed for highly motivated students of diverse professional and academic backgrounds to advance problem-solving designs in medical and health science contexts. Through flexible coursework and hands-on leadership experience, students are provided with analytical tools and frameworks to help build professional translational researcher skills.

What was a memorable experience from your first year?

“Throughout the year, we had many discussants speak in the Foundations in Translational Research course about a variety of topics spanning the pathway from bench to bedside and influences on the stages of research.”

Among the first year courses, the MSC1000: Foundations in Translational Research course aims to provide students with a high-level perspective of the research, discover, translation and commercialization landscape by fostering discussions with guest speakers who have real-world experience in these areas.

“One of the guest speakers that inspired me was UHN’s OpenLabs, a design and innovation shop dedicated to finding creative solutions to problems in health care. I was very interested in their approach to health care barriers and the public rounds they held every Tuesday. Following that class, I attended an OpenLabs rounds and met Adeline Cohen, who was working on the Toronto Rehab Urban Farm project. I connected with her after rounds and through our conversation, I discovered our shared interests in nutrition and the need to improve nutritional education within health care.”

Kathleen, who had extensive experience at the bedside, was able to make a connection that fostered the opportunity to collaborate on a research project in an intersection of their passions.

“…we both share an interest in expanding green space in healthcare facilities. I expressed my interest in her Urban Farm project and she asked me if I’d like to help her out. I volunteered my time to help out with an extensive literature review for her paper. In acknowledgment of our collaboration, Adeline will put my name as one of the authors in her paper. This is the first paper that will have my name on it! Adeline has been awesome to collaborate with and I am happy to help her out with her project.”

Any final reflections on your first year?

“I wanted to thank both Rich and Joseph, for opening up great opportunities for TRP students. It is exciting for me to be able to network and meet people with similar interests and to work on a project together. Following their advice to network and collaborate has really paid off! At first, I was a little unsure of how to go about networking but attending sessions, such as Open Rounds, has helped me to gain confidence in collaborating with others.”

Kathleen’s experience is one of the many stories of TRP students embedding themselves in their community or reaching out beyond their niche to drive change. As Kathleen enters her second year, she’ll be able to draw on these lessons learned and apply her skills to her Capstone project and future directions.