BSPSQC Scholarship Recipients 2018

Attending international conferences:
Neelam Minhas (UNBC) - Attending the 29th Annual IHI National Forum, Florida
Laura Howlett (UNBC) - Attending the 29th Annual IHI National Forum, Florida

Attending the Vancouver Quality Forum:
Anna Balsevich (UBC)
Anna Chen (UBC)
Cody Lo (UBC)
Jin Soo Roh (UBC)
Saman Fouladirad (UBC)
Shawna Narayan (UBC)
Tiffany Chih (UBC)




Neelam Minhas - Attended the 29th Annual IHI National Forum, Florida USA
The 28th Annual National Forum in Orlando, Florida was nothing short of magical. Being a second year medical student in the Northern Medical Program (NMP), my introduction to IHI and quality improvement was relatively short.

The year prior, I had taken part in the FLEX project for the IHI Basic Certificate. (For those unfamiliar with FLEX, it is curricular time which is alotted to enhancing medical students professional development through projects, and research.) Following the course, I alongside a few other students from the NMP, attended the Health Innovation for All Conference. It was at this conference that the desire to start an IHI Open School Chapter was realized. In the summer of 2017 our Chapter had been established, but our next steps were not yet laid out. Acknowledging that the system was imperfect was one thing, but determining how to fix it and what role our Chapter could play in that fix was another. The reason I wished to attend the conference was to find out how we fit. How would our existence create change? What did quality improvement really mean to me?

The beauty of the conference was not simply in the ideas being shared but also the people that I had the privilege of interacting with. From students to healthcare professionals, and everyone in between there were stories. Stories of frustration, of difficulties, of achievements, and lessons learned. That was a highlight. I find that often we forget to listen and truly connect with people. During one of the workshops titled "Make it stick," we were told to come up with a mini message. This message was meant to be a way to convey some of the thoughts or ideas we had while attending the conference. Upon completing our messages, we were to share them to those next to us at our tables. The speaker asked individuals to share their messages and my table decided to nominate me. A bit nervous, I took on the challenge because the general feeling I felt while at the conference was one of nothing ventured, nothing gained. Given that we had about 3 minutes to come up with something, I let the group of 100+ know that it was a work in progress. 

My message (again this is the very rough version made in 3 mins): "We make choices everday in our lives about what we will eat, what we will wear, how we are going to get from point A to point B. And we get caught in our routines. We miss out on things that may be of real value. We miss connections, adventures, opportunities all because we are fighting a losing battle against time. Take a step back. Easier said than done, right? But what is stopping you. Make your mark on others, choose to be spontaneous, take risks." I have to admit it was rather fun channeling my inner motivational speaker and having my table who were for the most part complete strangers to me, request that I have a turn on the mic. 

One of the many highlights during my time at the conference was hearing Mr. Bryan Stevenson speak. For me this man quickly became a legend. His speech was purposeful. It was impactful and heart-wrenching. He truly commanded the attention of the audience with his presence. He spoke of the power in proximity. He acknowledged that the only way we can help people is by getting closer to them, instead of staying in our comfortable, priveledged spaces he emphasized the need to reach out to the community, to the vulnerable populations and those without voices.  The statement that resonated with me the most from this KeyNote Speaker was "where hopelessness persists injustice prevails." We as students have the potential to do great things in the future, we as human beings have opportunities to make our mark. It is easy to say that the system is broken and settle with that, but in this we give up on the people that may need the most help. We become ignorant to the needs of the many so that we don't have to try, and to me that is a true shame. This speech moved me to tears, and was one that left the biggest impression on me and became a conversation starter for much of the conference. 

This conference answered some of my questions, though I feel for the most part the answers will continue to change as I gain more exposure and experiences on what Quality Improvement is. With respect to how we fit, we are individuals with a voice and it is up to us to use that voice and either inspire others with it or work towards changing the system with it. The conference allowed me and my fellow UNBC Open School Chapter Members the chance to connect with individuals working on QI initiatives both in Prince George and around BC. These connections will be valuable going forward as our Chapter grows. With respect to what QI means to me, it is about collaboration and teamwork two things I have always found important in my own life. It is about creating a message, and providing better patient-centered care through proximity and getting to know the people we hope to help. It is about building meaningful relationships and the right team. It is about growth. I feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to go to this conference and I feel honoured to have been in such amazing company. Without this scholarship, I would not have had had this experience and quite honestly this is one of those events I will remember for the rest of my life.

Laura Howlett - Attended the 29th Annual IHI National Forum, Florida USA
Attending the IHI International Forum was an absolute privilege. The key note speakers were all phenomenal but by far my favorite was a lawyer who spoke of his experience supporting disadvantaged individuals through the justice system in the United States. He brought the entire audience to tears with some of his stories. What he focused on and emphasized is the importance of was getting proximal to your patients. He talked about how getting proximal would help us as health care providers to really discover what our patients need. How can we assume that we know what individuals or groups of people need? IHI principles align with the idea of getting proximal. There is an emphasis on engaging front line staff in quality improvement because they are the ones that know what needs to change, or what can and cannot be reasonably changed. In my previous career, before medical school, I was a nurse. Unfortunately, there were times where I felt that my voice was not heard. Nothing was more frustrating to me than advocating for my patients wishes and being told that we, as a healthcare team, could not meet them. In those moments I felt powerless and helpless. When I sought advice I was told that I should engage the individuals involved in dialogue to “debrief” about what happened. But I wanted more than that. I wanted a paradigm shift towards a culture where nurses and patients felt empowered to advocate for autonomy in their care, and a healthcare system that recognized the value in meeting the needs of patients and staff.

Prior to attending the IHI Conference I had completed the Basic Certificate in Quality and Safety. Despite having done this certificate I still didn’t quite understand what this entity of IHI actually was. Having now experienced the IHI International Conference I can now say that I truly get it. It’s a movement, a group of people with shared passions and beliefs. It’s an organization that strives towards a patient first healthcare culture, and one that brings about joy in the workplace for it’s employees. IHI teaches healthcare practitioners how to execute and make their quality improvement dreams a reality. Most of us go in to healthcare with grand, idealistic ideas of what providing patient care will look like. And somewhere, over the years, we get jaded, pessimistic, hardened, burnt out. It doesn’t happen to all of us at the same rate or extent but I can almost bet it happens to every one of us to some degree. In our complicated healthcare system, the idea of trying to change the things that you want to improve is daunting. Miles of red tape exist. But IHI gives you the tools and strategies to overcome this red tape. They give you tips on how to get people to listen to your ideas. Before the IHI conference I had spent the last year and a half sitting in a lecture hall with very little patient care. This left me feeling very disconnected from my patients and exhausted from the sheer volume of knowledge I was trying to learn. The IHI International Conference gave me renewed energy and a clear reminder of why I went into medicine. It was beyond inspiring to meet like minded people from all over the world who are passionate about improving patient care. I even had the privilege of connecting with people in my own community back home (Prince George and BC in general) who were also passionate about QI. As a result of the conference I ended up joining the new UNBC IHI Open School Chapter and shortly later was appointed the Project Coordinator. I have kept in touch with the local physicians that we met at the conference and have had several successful QI projects/events come out of these connections. As a group we plan to continue to grow QI in the North and as one physician put it: “keep the fire lit.”

Attending the IHI conference has resulted in big changes for me both mentally and in the roles I perform within our new chapter. I never would have been able to attend the IHI International Forum if it wasn’t for the Open School Chapter Scholarship that was supported by the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council (BCPSQC). I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this conference and would like to encourage students to apply to attend this conference in the future, and for BCPSQC to continue to fund such a valuable opportunity for students.



Anna Balsevich - Attended the BCPSQC Quality Forum
When I first walked into the Hyatt for the Quality Forum, I was struck by the environment around me: healthcare professionals mingling and discussing their passion for QI, dozens of posters on display, and plenty of booths featuring organizations like Fraser Health. I felt absolutely privileged to be there, and I was excited to meet new people. I’m a student in the School of Social Work just about to finish my BSW, and so I wanted to attend sessions that I thought would be related to my field. 

One session that truly captivated me was “Rallying Around Youth at Risk: Community Supports for Suicide Prevention.” One of the speakers in the session was a young woman who detailed her personal experience as a patient at a hospital where she was mistreated by a healthcare professional. Upon hearing the details of her visit to the emergency department that this young woman was describing, many participants in the session gasped and couldn’t believe that a young patient could be treated so poorly when visiting the hospital. I am currently doing my final practicum placement in acute care, and attending this session helped me reflect on the importance of my role as part of the healthcare team, and what I can do to best support young patients that come to the emergency department. 

Another session I attended that was particularly compelling was “Trauma-Informed Care for Residents with Dementia.” Attending this session was of particular interest to me given my current practicum placement and the fact that I hope to work in a hospital in the future. The presenters talked about how a patient’s trauma could influence their behaviours, incorporating a strengths-based approach during interactions with patients, and ensuring that the patient always remains at the center of their care. They emphasized that adopting a trauma-informed lens involves understanding that people recognize and experience trauma differently and that older adults can experience trauma repeatedly. This session reinforced the importance of recognizing the social and emotional aspects of a patient’s life in their care. As I continue to work in healthcare, I hope to use this lens when working with older adults and patients with dementia. 

When I wrapped up my time at the Quality Forum on a snowy afternoon, I left feeling inspired by the people I met and the work I got to see exhibited over the course of two days. I’m excited to see what the future has in store, and I hope to carry my learning from the Quality Forum into my social work practice. I’m incredibly grateful for the BCPSQC and IHI BC Chapters giving me the opportunity to attend the Quality Forum and I hope to attend the conference again in the future!

Anna Chen - Attended the BCPSQC Quality Forum
The 2018 British Columbia Quality Forum a very different conference for me. In the many conferences or events that I have attended as an undergraduate Student Pharmacist, I have noticed that topics discussed may not always be curated to all of the attendees – they are generalized topics that may be interesting to some but doesn’t necessarily appeal to all. Other conferences have really left many participants feel like they are in lectures that they do not necessarily want to attend. I think because patient-centered and people-powered care is a large overarching goal for all of the different healthcare and allied professions, it really allowed me to feel like we all had a common learning objective – to learn how to better provide patient-centered and people-powered healthcare. 

One of the sessions that really stuck with me was the “Caring for Young Minds: Spelling Out the CYMHSU Collaborative” Rapid Fire session. As a healthcare student, I’ve noticed a big gap in our mental health services, especially for our children and youth. In many of my practicums, I have not felt comfortable (nor have my practice educators) providing information or referrals to patients with respect to their mental health. In this session with discussions of different resources and current gaps in our mental health services, I feel more comfortable in finding resources for my patients before referring them to other healthcare professionals, particularly to more specialized mental health practitioners that have more resources and help to offer. By hearing healthcare professional and patient stories at this session, I’ve learned much about the gaps of practice in BC for mental health resources and learning about where else needs to be further developed. This session shifted my frame of reference in the mental health lens and helped me identify where I can continue to learn and grow in my early years of practice as a hospital pharmacist.

Thank you so much to the IHI BC Chapters and the BCPSQC for providing me the opportunity to share my perspectives and knowledge with many healthcare professionals in this sold out event. I hope to attend once again very soon as a new clinical pharmacist!

Cody Lo: "Making a Quality Core Competency" - Attended the BCPSQC Quality Forum
As a trainee in a healthcare professional program there are a number of competencies that I must work to develop over the coming years - such as knowledge of pathophysiology and proficiency in clinical skills. However, I have been pleasantly surprised by the emphasis there has been on quality improvement thus far in my education. I first attended the Quality Forum in 2015 as undergraduate student in Bachelor’s of Science program and was fortunate to attend this year’s forum through the BCPSQC and IHI BC Chapter’s Quality Improvement Scholarship. Now attending as a medical student, I was able to bring a much different perspective to the conference as a result of  my brief exposure to some of the challenges our healthcare system faces today.

One of the things I appreciate most about the Quality Forum is the focus on interprofessional collaboration and highlighting of the patient experience in quality improvement. Often conferences are design to attract a subset of professionals with a similar niche interest or role. While I do believe undoubtedly such conferences are useful for sharing ideas - it also refreshing to interact with those who come from diverse professional backgrounds. For example, the keynote talk this year was given by Tim Omer (pictured below) who is a type one diabetic as well as a health hacker. He gave a really interesting presentation about some of the technology that he has helped develop to take ownership over his condition and offered an interesting perspective about the translational trajectory that he sees these devices taking. Coming from a biotechnology background I’m very accustomed to the translational paradigm where new technologies are mass produced and distributed widely where as Tim made the argument that he hope these devices stay “grassroots.” One of the reasons why he really enjoys health hacking is that it’s very “bottom-up” and part of the experience is actually working with patient groups developing these devices and in a way acts as a form of social support.

Jin Soo Roh - Attended the BCPSQC Quality Forum
The 2018 BCPSQC Quality Forum was nothing short of amazing. Two full days of networking, exploring innovative projects and initiatives, and broadening my knowledge on current health issues was a truly insightful experience.

​What I enjoyed most about the Quality Forum was that your offered so many different perspectives on a single topic. While learning about something in school through lectures or books is one thing, actually hearing the thoughts and experiences of someone involved with the topic gives you a much deeper understanding and feel of how matters are progressing currently. For example, one of the workshops brought in a paramedic, BCCDC Harm Reduction specialist, and Harm Reduction advocate to offer three distinct viewpoints on the current opioid crisis in Vancouver.

As a student who is only just learning about the concept of "quality improvement", it was also very interesting to see how the concept is applied to such a vast range of topics. It shed light into how the concept applies to the many things I do in my daily, how I may act to improve processes in my life, and how I may apply it in my future career. The Randomized Coffee Trials and being surrounded my older professionals in diverse lines of work also helped me understand how QI applies to their fields.
I'd like to thank the IHI BC Chapters and the BCPSQC for this splendid opportunity. I will definitely be back next year!

Saman Fouladirad - Attended the BCPSQC Quality Forum
With the generous support of the IHI BC Chapters and BCPSQC, I was able to attend the 2018 Vancouver Quality Forum during my reading break and it proved to be an incredibly rewarding experience. This opportunity exposed me to the current state of patient care, the way professionals across the different districts in Vancouver work together to improve healthcare, the obstacles we are currently facing and modern approaches and methods that are being implemented to improve patient care and safety. 

As an aspiring physician, I was very fascinated about the plethora of topics covered in this conference. It was one of the few conferences where I had no obligations so I was able to fully devote myself to the many talks, workshops, tours, and debates while having a chance to connect with and learn from a diverse group of dedicated and passionate healthcare professionals about the ideals and standards of quality care. The pre-conference selections that I made was specifically geared towards providing accessible services in rural communities and the talk that really grasped my attention was about the Mobile Maternity Project (MOM), which is why I’ve dedicated my blog in explaining the premise and implications of this initiative. 

The Mobile Maternity Project (MOM) is an integrative systems approach in supporting rural maternal services through Telehealth. This pilot project was initiated in B.C in response to the effects of regionalization that resulted in the loss of over 20 rural maternity services in B.C. The data presented was very alarming as it unequivocally showed that the greater distance that is now required to seek care put mothers and their infants at a greater risk of poorer health outcomes. This does intuitively make sense though, as regionalization takes away specialized support, access to technology, allied health professionals and much more. 

The MOM was thus created to increase primary health care capacity and improve patient and population outcomes by providing a specialized obstetrics Telehealth service. This pilot initiative allows the patient to meet with their out of town specialist using a computer monitor/video and supports in facilitating a 3-way conversation between specialist, GP and patient. The consultation options presented were surprisingly plentiful as it ranged from booked, elective tele-video appointments to urgent bed-side assessment in hospital, clinic or home. 

This seemed like the perfect innovative solution to a problem that is not only prevalent in B.C, but across Canada. However, as with any project or research endeavour, the initial stages will have its trails and tribulation. Through the dozen or so consultations that the investigators conducted, they have had lower than the anticipated uptake as less than the expected number of peoples across the different communities were coming on board for this project. This gap between theory and practice was something that I started discussing with other members of the audience and it provided me with many interesting ideas as to why the case may be. Could it that people have a lack of awareness of the project? Was it an overestimation of the need for such a service? May it be that people have a bigger desire for interpersonal consultations? Perhaps a complete larger shift in paradigm is needed before this form of practice is accepted. It was very fascinating to see how the panel members were discussing these ideas back and forth while proposing multiple working hypothesis in addressing the foreseeable challenges. 

In the end, the topic really resonated with me because it showed the potential that eHealth practice can have in addressing challenges that patients, physicians and society on a whole face as it is not bound by geographical barriers. I believe that platforms such as Telehealth will continue to play a significant role in providing quality care in the future as we strive to transition towards an integrative and efficient system that allows rapid and accurate transmission of data while providing equitable access to information that is safe and secure in order to improve patient care and safety. 

The Quality Forum was the perfect platform in helping me better understand the issues surrounding healthcare that are rarely discussed in most education settings. This was a wonderful learning opportunity and proved to be an invaluable experience for me as I continuously try to hone my skills, understanding and knowledge about our healthcare sector to one day be in a position to deliver the most optimal care to my future patients. 

I thank the IHI BC Chapters and BCPSQC for giving me this opportunity. I highly recommend this conference to others and I cannot wait until next year’s Quality Forum!

Shawna Narayan - Attended the BCPSQC Quality Forum
Attending Quality Forum has been a unique and insightful experience and I would like to show my appreciation to IHI BC Chapters and BC Patient and Safety Council for granting me this scholarship to attend such an amazing and knowledge-filled event. Thank you!

​There was so much to learn at the forum – I found that every individual I spoke to had a different background in healthcare and had a different outlook n its patient needs and advances and health care. Such an enriching conversation, must come from an group of individuals that are actively involved in the betterment of health care and the community. It is exactly the type of group I would like to be involved with. 

In particular, I loved the meal-time match up event during lunch where a mentee and mentor are matched up to learn more from one another’s experiences. My meal-time matchup was with Dr. Marsden, an emergency Physician at St. Pauls. We had an engaging conversation about the opioid crisis, my goals and aspirations, and actually finally got to meet each other in person via the Quality Forum! Dr. Mardsen and I have been working together via email (I work with Digital Emergency Medicine) and didn’t realize that we were matched up for our mentorship event! It was a pleasant surprise and it was amazing to hear about his experiences and gain invaluable advice from him on my goals. 

The motivating and inspiring talks combined with educational workshops on current issues in health care make the Quality Forum a must-need event for community professionals. Their much-needed work is showcased in a way that makes it easy for any professional, with any background, to understand and learn about health issues such as integrating cultural practices into health care from addressing the opioid crisis.

Meeting a range of individuals who are dedicated to improving patient experiences and health care, reaffirmed my desire to work in Public Health. As a student, I found the Quality Forum a highlight of my undergraduate career and I hope to attend it again as a health researcher or physician in the future. 

Tiffany Chih - Attended the BCPSQC Quality Forum
This year, I was fortunately selected as one of the recipients of the BCPSQC and IHI BC Chapters Quality Improvement Scholarship to attend the Quality Forum 2018, a conference filled with inspirations and learning opportunities. As the Events Director for IHI UBC this year and a newbie to quality improvement, I was eager to learn about local QI projects as well as effective strategies to improve problems in the current healthcare system. 

The two-day event started off with a keynote speech by Tim Omer, a change-maker who combined his experience as a Type 1 diabetic and his expertise in technologies to improve his own physical health. Tim spoke of a common problem in the diabetic community, where patients were often overloaded with too much information and emotional burden in their daily lives. His story of developing an artificial pancreatic system to manage his blood sugar level demonstrated the transitioning role of a patient in the healthcare system and showcased how technologies can be integrated into clinical care. One thing I enjoyed about this presentation was the interaction the speaker had with the audience. During the discussion period, some healthcare professionals shared their concerns regarding public access to personal health data as well as the hackability and liability of mobile applications. These conversations provided different perspectives on the issue and identified possible future directions.

One of the most memorable workshops that I attended was a talk about stigma in health care. The speakers addressed the abstract concept of social stigma through examples of public campaigns regarding marginalized populations. They linked the topic to the current opioid crisis, explaining how judgements and discriminations contributed to people dying behind the closed doors. Through this session, I learned about how compassionate care can help reduce social distance and transform the ways people in need approach medical resources, which can ultimately improve the healthcare provider-patient relationships. 

The session on transitioning to legal cannabis, led by representatives from the Ministry of Health, also broadened my knowledge about the legalization process of marijuana in BC. Instead of simply talking about the government regulations, Gerald and Brian facilitated a discussion with the audience and received many feedbacks from nurses, physicians, and community members about the use of medical and non-medical cannabis. They also addressed the lack of literature on cannabis use and how this imposed a challenge on creating government regulations. It was an amazing opportunity to gather these voices and to explore this complex topic together.

​The Quality Forum 2018 introduced me to a community of passionate, experienced, and dedicated individuals who constantly strive to improve the quality of care. I felt so inspired after learning about the diverse QI projects and collaborative efforts in BC. Thank you IHI UBC and BCPSQC for the opportunity to attend such a great conference.