Terrace-raised Allyson Kis is a medical student at McGill University who was recently awarded the Dr. Margaret Siber Global Health Scholar Award.
As part of this award, she will be working with leaders in her field to research the overall impact of surgical care on Northern Quebec’s population as well as quantifying the impact for future such services. She is currently working with Dr. Evan Wong.
Kis spoke to The Terrace Standard from Montreal and explained her research, her inspirations growing up and aspirations to return back to northwest B.C. and practice medicine in the future.
Q: Tell us more about the Global Health Scholar Award and what does it mean for you?
Kis: Every summer there’s a program called the McGill Global Health Scholars Program and this is open to medical students at McGill who can apply to conduct research with a supervisor and right now I’m working on a project with Dr. Evan Wong. He’s in the department of surgery, and we’re working on improving the quality of trauma and acute surgical care in northern Quebec. So what we’re doing is trying to quantify current capacity to target future interventions. We’re assessing the trauma and acute surgical care capacity of 14 different health centres in northern Quebec to see where there are areas of improvement for trauma and acute care. By filling this knowledge gap we’re trying to identify targets for policy making and quality improvement initiatives.
Q: Tell us a little about your background and your connection to Terrace
Kis: I’m originally from Terrace and I grew up there. My parents still live there so I come back every summer and winter. I have been studying in Quebec for a couple years now and I’ve kind of been going back and forth. After I complete my studies I will come back to either Terrace or another small town like it or an Indigenous community to start my own practice.
Q: So how will your training and research in trauma help rural communities, small towns and Indigenous communities where you want to set up practice in the future?
Kis: I think, even though it’s not in the same region of Canada there are very similar characteristics that communities in Quebec and other remote communities as such face, with regards to accessing proper care due to its isolation, geography, the weather, lack of resources etc. It’s also just more difficult in terms of transport of trauma cases to bigger centres. So I think there are similar challenges that both communities face and just from being able to conduct this research and to kind of get an idea of what areas need to be improved, I think later on in my practice when I am more involved as a physician, I would have already had some experience and an outlook that I can transfer on to my future practice.
Q: A lot of young medical professionals prefer to work for big hospitals in big cities when they are starting out, so you saying you want to come back to Terrace and work in smaller communities is interesting, where does that come from?
Kis: Having grown up in B.C., and moving out and seeing and kind of living the city life, I’ve developed a really great appreciation for smaller towns – especially the beauty of. B.C. and Terrace. The city can be nice but I really miss the mountains and the community. I’m really more attached to the smaller towns as opposed to city life.
Q: Have you always wanted to become a physician? Why did you go into medicine?
Kis: Well, my dad is a nurse and he works in Nunavut in small communities. So I’ve kind of seen his outlook on that – like the practice, the people he works with, different challenges etc. So he has been my role model. But also when I was in school, I was just really interested in health science. I think it’s a great way to be able to transfer that knowledge and to be able to provide care in that sense, especially since there’s like a big lack of physicians in remote communities. It would be really great to help diminish that existing gap.