BHSc Alumni Spotlight

Health and Society

Megan

Megan Thomas, BHSc'18

PhD student

  • BHSc - Health and Society - University of Calgary
  • MSc. - Community Health Sciences - University of Calgary
  • PhD - Pharmaceutical Sciences - University of British Columbia 

The BHSc program taught me the importance of collaborating with others and considering multiple perspectives to address health inequities.

Megan Thomas, BHSc'18

What is your favorite BHSc memory?

The day we all defended our theses and were able to celebrate our hard work is such a wonderful memory for me. It was a bittersweet moment of realizing how much we had all accomplished and realizing that we were all moving on to new adventures.

Looking back, what advice would you give yourself as a student?

First, get involved! It can be tempting to isolate yourself and focus on getting a perfect GPA, but branching out to try different things, join clubs, and meet new people, are all part of the experience and could teach you things about yourself that you won’t learn in a classroom. Next, I would say that choosing a supervisor is a crucial decision and requires a careful balance between shared interests and overall compatibility. Choose a supervisor who has your best interests at heart and wants to see you succeed, because they can open so many doors for you.

What is the best thing about your current job?

As a PhD student in Pharmaceutical Sciences, I have opportunities to collaborate with a diverse group of stakeholders, including industry partners, patient networks, and international leaders in research. I especially appreciate being able to work with patient partners because hearing from them and including their perspectives reminds me why I am conducting research to begin with.

How has your career evolved?

Like almost everyone in my cohort, when I began the BHSc program I was dead set on applying to Medicine. However, my time in the BHSc program in combination with my research experiences gave me a passion for utilizing an upstream approach, investigating the root causes of patient conditions and outcomes. I ended up taking a year off after convocation and worked as a research coordinator at Foothills for a clinician scientist in rheumatology. He convinced me to do my MSc in Health Services Research at the University of Calgary, and after my experience with the BHSc program, it was an easy yes. My time conducting research in my MSc program showed me how critical pharmaceutical advancement is, particularly for patients with chronic illnesses. I am now in Vancouver attending UBC as a PhD student in Pharmaceutical Sciences to consider the impact of equity factors on patients with inflammatory arthritis when they access care. I never saw myself pursuing research long-term when I first started the BHSc program, so it’s interesting to look back and reflect on how I got here.

How did your BHSc degree help you get to where you are now/current career?

The BHSc program taught me the importance of collaborating with others and considering multiple perspectives to address health inequities. The research opportunities we were given provided me with a strong foundation going into grad school, and really allowed me to thrive.

These past few years throughout the pandemic has provided time for us to reflect on our lives. Personally, the pandemic has allowed me to realize how much I value research. In a time where we were all vulnerable, I found comfort in knowing there was a path that could help me be part of the solution, and I credit the BHSc program for instilling that passion in me.

What is the best piece of advice you have received during your career journey?

Embrace failure because your failures are arguably more important than your successes. It may be a cliché, but it is so true that when one door closes, much more exciting ones open. I have found this especially important in the world of research and academia and have heard from many mentors and supervisors that failures are just part of the game. For every grant awarded, many applications were rejected, and for every manuscript published, there were many papers that were shelved. If we avoid rejection, then we are also limiting our opportunities for success, so use your failures as an opportunity to grow and reflect. Your next failure might just be the thing you need to succeed!