Anish Arora, PhD student in the Department of Family Medicine, is among the latest cohort of Vanier Canada Scholars. The award is Canada’s most prestigious for doctoral students. Vanier Scholars demonstrate leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and/or humanities, natural sciences and/or engineering and health. Anish completed his bachelor’s degree in Honours Biology with a minor in Psychology at McMaster University. In 2017, he joined McGill’s Department of Family Medicine to complete a MSc in the Medical Education Concentration before deciding to pursue a PhD, also in the Department. The focus of his PhD work, supervised by Dr. Bertrand Lebouché, is on improving the care trajectory of migrant populations living with HIV in Montréal and across Canada through engaging patients and stakeholders in his research. Aside from his research, Anish volunteers with adolescents in the Cotes-des-Neiges community in an effort to foster their critical and creative thinking, as well as their passion for engaging in frequent service projects to improve their community.
“When I was initially looking for a graduate program to pursue my MSc, I was searching for an innovative department that would train me to be a strong primary care researcher, through both the courses I take and the research I conduct,” shares Anish. “The Department of Family Medicine at McGill University was the ideal place for me. I noticed right off the bat that this program had courses in various methodologies and approaches, including mixed methods and participatory research – both of which have become central to my PhD research.” His MSc, supervised by Dr. Charo Rodriguez and Dr. Tibor Schuster, focused on understanding how the concept of usability has been conceptualized and applied across blended learning programs in health professions education. Anish conducted a large-scale scoping review which elucidated the disparity that exists in this field with respect to definitions of evaluative terminology, connotations of the words, and methods of evaluating these programs. This project has now led to a research program that Anish continues to work on in parallel to his PhD.
As part of his doctoral work, Anish is working with a large team of clinicians, academics, patients, and even a few community organizations to improve the care that migrant people living with HIV receive at a major healthcare centre in Montreal. As they move towards more technology-centred models of care, they need to ensure that these models reflect the resources that vulnerable and marginalized patients have access too, as well as their needs and concerns. “What inspired me to pursue a PhD is my passion for research and desire to advance healthcare and educational systems in Canada and around the world via evidence-informed strategies and innovative technologies,” says Anish. “I am super interested in trying to understand how we can make this world more just and prosperous for all. At the forefront of my motivation is this belief that everyone should have access to healthcare and education regardless of where they came from, their socio-economic status, their creed, or their gender.”
While studying for his MSc, Anish received a Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. He was also awarded a Doctoral Training Fellowship from the Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec in partnership with the Québec Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Support Unit for his PhD studies. In addition to these awards, Anish recently received the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship Award. “My initial reaction was sheer gratitude. This award could not have been achieved without the immense support I received from my supervisor, mentors, research team, and most importantly my family,” says Anish. “The countless words of encouragement, the numerous reviews of my application drafts, and much more fed into this award. This recognition really does mean the world to me. This award allows me to continue walking down the path towards my dream of leading evidence-informed change and systems-level innovation across healthcare and educational systems, while also being able to support my family.”