January Student of the Month: Ally Giesbrecht

Program: Master of Science in Rehabilitation Sciences (MSc)

Supervisor: Dr. Skye Barbic

Tell us a little bit about your lab!

Our lab is led by Dr. Skye Barbic and is focused largely on mental health, youth, and measurement. Every other week, the post-doctoral students organize research rounds where trainees get to hear from different researchers on the work that they are doing. There’s a double benefit in this as we get to ask questions and learn both about the processes that students go through in their academic careers, and also the research topics themselves. We have an interesting mix of clinician-scientists from different disciplines as well as more traditional researchers. In particular the team has a number of occupational therapists including myself and Dr. Barbic as well as folks from Medicine and Nursing.

What project are you currently working on?

I am currently working on research involving people with mental health and/or substance use who have frequent or high-cost use of the health system. The current favoured term used to describe this level of use is “high use of healthcare”. In my clinical work as an occupational therapist I worked closely with individuals in a mental health and substance use treatment setting and despite the best efforts of both clients and clinicians, clients that were readmitted often repeatedly encountered gaps and barriers that led to a decline in their health and wellbeing. The goal of my research is to learn more about what some of these gaps and barriers are that relate to high use of healthcare, to get recommendations for how the healthcare system can better serve those with mental health and/or substance use, and also to document what currently helps people maintain their health and wellness.

What do you like to do outside of academia?

Outside of academia, I enjoy being actively involved as a stakeholder in my community of the Downtown Eastside. Addressing social determinants of health and social justice issues both through my research and my personal life are important to me. I also love creating things, from various forms of art to cooking, and figuring out ways to use these skills to support the causes that I care about.

Congratulations Ally on being our featured Student of the Month for January! Interested in seeing what else our Rehabilitation Sciences students and trainees are working on? Stay tuned for our next feature!