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MAP 2023 Summer Student Program

MAP is recruiting Black, Indigenous, and other undergraduate students of colour to join our team as summer students.

Summer students work with MAP scientists and staff on health equity research projects.

Applications for the 2023 program are now open and the form is linked below.

About the program

The MAP Summer Student Program is an opportunity to:

  • Gain research skills, experience, and mentorship, to help prepare for graduate school or other career goals
  • Access professional development resources available through MAP and St. Michael’s Hospital
  • Participate in skill-building workshops related to professional development
  • Connect with other undergraduate students who are interested in health equity research

Students are paid $18/hour, 37.5 hours per week. The program is 10 weeks long (June 5-August 11, 2023).

Who should apply

Applicants must be:

  • Interested in building research skills and exploring a career in research that aims to reduce health inequities
  • Self-identified as a Black, Indigenous or other racialized person
  • Currently enrolled in a university/college undergraduate program in Ontario, Canada, in the Fall 2023 following the Summer Program. Students enrolled in medical school or who will be starting in medical school in the Fall are not eligible for this program.
  • Legally able to work in Canada
  • Available to participate full-time (37.5 hours/week) for the full 10-week program (June 5- August 11, 2023)
  • Able to work in or around the MAP offices in downtown Toronto, as needed.
  • Please note that if you are selected to participate in this program, you will be required to submit proof of three COVID-19 vaccinations as per Unity Health Toronto Policy.

How to apply

The application deadline is 5:00 pm EST on March 1, 2023.

Google forms allows you to save your progress for up to 30 days if you are logged into your free google account. If you do not have a google account, please review the prompts and the fields for contact information for those recommending you, formulate your responses, and be ready to copy and paste it into the form when submitting the application.

You will be required to upload your unofficial transcripts at the end of this application form, so please ensure you have them by the time you intend to submit the application.

We hope to make this application process as simple as possible. Should you prefer to complete this as a downloadable form that can be filled in offline, please send an email to samira.prasad@unityhealth.to .

Review the list of MAP projects below, and read the descriptions provided by the scientists who are leading them. Choose three projects that you’d love to work on. If you’re selected for the program, we’ll do our best to assign you to one of these projects.

Obtain an unofficial copy of your most recent university transcript.

Fill out the application form below, which includes your three project choices, a 300-500 word Letter of Intent, and the names and contact information for two people willing to complete a reference form for you. (Note we only want their names and contact information for the application – if we require a reference for you, we will request them later).

The deadline to submit your completed application is 5:00pm EST on March 1, 2023

If you are selected for an interview, you’ll hear from us by early May 2023.

The program starts June 5, 2023.

MAP Summer Student Program 2023 Application Form

Summer Student Project List

If you’re selected for the MAP Summer Student Program, you’ll be assigned to one of the below projects. Read through the descriptions below, paying attention to each project’s topic, methods, and the scientist leading them. In your application form, you’ll be asked which three projects interest you the most.

SCIENTIST LEAD: Dr. Anna Durbin

Research Project Description

People experiencing homelessness are traditionally difficult to recognize as homeless in healthcare administrative data sources (i.e., datasets that contain information collected about patients during healthcare encounters for billing purposes or patient records), which is a barrier to effectively identifying and tackling the wicked problem of homelessness.

The harmful consequences of allowing people to remain in extended states of homelessness are well documented.  While there is also growing evidence of opportunities to deliver interventions to reduce health issues, health service use and long-term shelter use for people experiencing homelessness, data is critical to provide evidence to guide these interventions.  

Internationally, there are increasing efforts to identify and describe people experiencing homelessness using administrative healthcare sources. While in Ontario, the experience of homelessness can be documented in an ICD-10 code, often it is only noted in words in a patient’s hospital chart. The ICD-10 billing codes are used to enumerate and describe people experiencing homelessness in hospital encounters, likely missing some people who are experiencing homelessness. This project aims to review clinical notes from family doctor visits and hospital visits to assess extent of missed identification of people experiencing homelessness using ICD-10 codes, and to describe them. An undergraduate student contributing to this project will assist with designing and conducting the process of using natural language processing to identify patients experiencing homelessness in clinician notes (text).

Research Skills and Development Opportunities

  • Quantitative research
  • Literature review
  • Project administration/coordination (e.g. research ethic applications, meeting planning)

SCIENTIST LEADS: Dr. Gillian Booth

Research Project Description

The active use of public space, such as cycling to work, taking the train, and using a neighbourhood park, has been directly linked with better health, including improved mental health and reductions in chronic disease incidence and premature deaths. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and work from home policies surged, mobility patterns drastically shifted; many people were no longer commuting, and centres of urban economic activity were shut down. Public parks, trails, and walkable neighbourhoods became the primary places to safely get outside and stay active. However, lockdown orders expressed as ‘stay-at-home’ mandates, as well as community risk perception, and neighbourhood designs, often impeded or enhanced opportunities to actively use public space – and get healthy – during the pandemic.

Globally, multiple different stories have emerged, as public health policies, COVID-19 case burdens, and the public’s risk perception has vastly differed between countries – each influencing the use of public parks and outdoor spaces in diverse ways.  In consideration, we would like a summer student to help us with a scoping review that explores the use of public parks and outdoor spaces during the pandemic. We will also explore how the use of public space during the pandemic may have impacted physical and mental health. This project will directly build on a larger body of evidence linking the built environment to health outcomes, and will help propose culturally appropriate solutions to rethink how public space should be equitably designed and used in a post-pandemic world.

Research Skills and Development Opportunities

  • Mixed methods research
  • Data collection
  • Data analysis (e.g. statistics, coding interviews)
  • Literature review
  • Research writing and dissemination (e.g. abstracts, manuscripts, reports)
  • Presentation

SCIENTIST LEAD: Dr. Justine Cohen-Silver

Research Project Description

Students will be helping to put together a write-up of a systematic review for social interventions to support children and their families in the outpatient setting. As well, supporting a team conducting focus groups within the local community.

Research Skills and Development Opportunities

  • Quantitative research
  • Data analysis (e.g. statistics, coding interviews)
  • Literature review
  • Community engagement
  • Research writing and dissemination (e.g. abstracts, manuscripts, reports)

SCIENTIST LEAD: Dr. Flora Matheson

Research Project Description

Individuals under community supervision—e.g., probation, parole, pretrial/bail supervision—are subject to a set of court-mandated supervision conditions that dictate much of their everyday interactions, schedules, and activities, including what the objects and substances they may possess and/or consume. Violations can result in more restrictive conditions, additional charges, and reimprisonment, perpetuating entanglement in the criminal justice system. Compliance may be particularly difficult for individuals with a history of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), the prevalence of which is alarmingly high in justice-involved populations, ranging from 35.7% to 88.0% among studies using valid and reliable screening tools. Living with TBI is associated with a range of cognitive, behavioural, emotional, and communication issues that make complying with standard conditions difficult, such as orders to abstain from substance use, attend treatment, and find employment. The primary emphasis of this project is to examine (1) how individuals with a history of TBI experience and manage court-mandated supervision conditions; (2) how people working in the criminal justice system apply, monitor, and enforce conditions; and (3) how interactions between people working in the criminal justice system and persons with TBI subject to conditions shape violation trajectories. The summer student will work closely with all members of the team and have an opportunity to learn about the criminal justice system. They will be trained to perform literature searches, assist with participant recruitment, and conduct data collection. The project’s community-based focus will also allow our diverse team of trainees to build community engagement skills.

Research Skills and Development Opportunities

  • Qualitative research
  • Data analysis (e.g. statistics, coding interviews)
  • Literature review
  • Project administration/coordination (e.g. research ethic applications, meeting planning)
  • Community engagement

SCIENTIST LEAD: Dr. Carolyn Snider

Research Project Description

The THRIVE Program at Unity Health Toronto – St. Michael’s Hospital is a hospital-based violence intervention program (HVIP) that works with youths at a reflective juncture following a violent injury to prevent recurrent injury due to violence or homicide. Support workers, known as Coaches, meet with the youth at the time of injury and work with them to address issues that put them at violence as well as to develop goals that will help the youth to thrive. HVIPs show great promise in reducing repeat injury, improving health care experiences and outcomes.  The THRIVE Program is confirming a formal partnership with a local youth sports centre that is affiliated with major sports teams. This will allow participants to meet their ‘coach’ at this centre rather than in a hospital office environment.  The summer student will do an evaluation as to whether this partnership enables increased participation and retention in the THRIVE program. It will involve a short survey of youth participants, and structured interviews of both participants, THRIVE Staff and staff from the local organization.

The successful candidate will possess excellent written and verbal communication skills, be able to work independently as well as part of a team, have excellent attention to detail, and a desire to learn new skills.

Research Skills and Development Opportunities

  • Mixed methods research
  • Data collection
  • Data analysis (e.g. statistics, coding interviews)
  • Literature review
  • Project administration/coordination (e.g. research ethic applications, meeting planning)
  • Community engagement
  • Research writing and dissemination (e.g. abstracts, manuscripts, reports)

SCIENTIST LEADS: Dr. Carolyn Snider

Research Project Description

The ED Outreach Worker Program at Unity Health Toronto – St. Michael’s Hospital (UHT-SMH) aims to improve emergency department (ED) navigation and connection to community resources for people experiencing homelessness. Individuals experiencing homelessness presenting in the ED at UHT-SMH are supported by an ED Outreach Worker who determines their immediate needs and facilitates necessary referrals and supports for a safe discharge to the community. Following a client’s discharge to the community, the ED Outreach Worker continues to maintain contact with clients to ensure continuity of care and to assist with the coordination, navigation and follow-up of health care and community services. 

The summer student will conduct a matched case control study to determine the impact of the ED Outreach Worker program on healthcare utilization and completed follow-up on visits to UHT-SMH outpatient clinics. Case data will come from an existing database and the control group will be formed after REB approval. Following completion of the analysis, the student will author abstracts and a manuscript on the results.

The successful candidate will have completed an undergraduate or graduate degree that included extensive biostatistics training.  If the candidate is pursuing a graduate degree and is interested in extending this work as part of their degree, that will be a possibility and should be included in their application.  The successful candidate will have excellent written and verbal communication skills, be able to work independently as well as part of a team, have excellent attention to detail, and a desire to learn new skills.

Research Skills and Development Opportunities

  • Mixed methods research
  • Data analysis (e.g. statistics, coding interviews)
  • Literature review
  • Project administration/coordination (e.g. research ethic applications, meeting planning)
  • Community engagement
  • Research writing and dissemination (e.g. abstracts, manuscripts, reports)

SCIENTIST LEAD: Dr. Jonathon Maguire

Research Project Description

TARGet Kids! (www.targetkids.ca) is a large primary care research network for children in Canada. The overall goal of TARGet Kids! is to improve the health of Canadians by optimizing growth and development in early childhood. Since 2008, TARGet Kids! has involved 11,000 children and their families by collecting data on socio-demographic variables, anthropometric measurements, lifestyle factors, school and development, mental health status, and blood samples at each well-child visit.

In 2018, leveraging the TARGet Kids! longitudinal cohort we began our study TARGet Kids! Cow’s Milk Fat Obesity pRevention Trial (CoMFORT) to understand the effects of cow’s milk selection on obesity and childhood growth. We continue to collect data on young children based on the WHO recommendations on milk intake and selection. As this study continues with recruitment we want to the study global literature on milk guidelines and alternative sources in comparison to the data we are collecting and the WHO recommendations.

Research Skills and Development Opportunities

  • Quantitative research
  • Literature review
  • Research writing and dissemination (e.g. abstracts, manuscripts, reports)

SCIENTIST LEAD: Dr. Jonathon Maguire

Research Project Description

TARGet Kids! (www.targetkids.ca) is a large primary care research network for children in Canada. The overall goal of TARGet Kids! is to improve the health of Canadians by optimizing growth and development in early childhood. Since 2008, TARGet Kids! has involved 11,000 children and their families by collecting data on socio-demographic variables, anthropometric measurements, lifestyle factors, school and development, mental health status, and blood samples at each well-child visit.
In 2017 we established the Parent and Clinician Team (PACT) to engage parent partners in research. We want to evaluate the impact of this group to review its impact with families being involved in research, and assess if our research has fostered meaningful collaboration in leveraging parent partners. We will conduct interviews with both our researchers and parent partners to evaluate their views and experiences with this collaboration and review the dynamics, gaps and opportunities for improvement.

Research Skills and Development Opportunities

  • Mixed methods research
  • Data collection
  • Literature review
  • Research writing and dissemination (e.g. abstracts, manuscripts, reports)

SCIENTIST LEAD: Dr. Ann Burchell

Research Project Description

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI worldwide and can cause cancers such as cervical cancer in women and anal cancer in men and women. People living with HIV have a 20- to 90- times higher risk for anal cancer than the general population but unlike cervical screening, there is no routine anal screening program. Evidence of inequity exists in Ontario, with racialized men living with HIV being less likely to discuss screening with a healthcare provider or to have had digital anal rectal examination than white men, and few women living with HIV having had anal screening. As part of a larger project exploring implementation of anal screening, this summer project will gather existing patient information regarding anal screening for people living with HIV. The student will review the peer-reviewed and grey literature, collect and collate materials and media on anal cancer screening for people living with HIV, and assist with community engagement. The intended product will be a catalogue of media that can be assessed for cultural relevance and appropriateness in focus groups. This will support the larger study that aims to inform the sustainable and equitable implementation of anal screening for people living with HIV, based on age, sex and gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, and geography.

The successful applicant will work with Dr. Burchell and the ESTIMATE Lab on projects within her STI research program, including HIV, HPV, and HPV-related cancers. Tasks will include knowledge synthesis, data review and documentation, and presenting findings verbally and through written summaries.

Research Skills and Development Opportunities

  • Mixed methods research
  • Data collection
  • Data Analysis
  • Literature review
  • Community Engagement
  • Research writing and dissemination (e.g. abstracts, manuscripts, reports)

SCIENTIST LEAD: Dr. Nav Persaud

Research Project Description  

The CLEAN Meds trial was a 24-month trial that measured the effects of free essential medicine distribution to primary care patients who had trouble affording medicines. While the trial was being conducted, additional funding was obtained to continue the intervention of free essential medicine distribution for an additional 12 months for a total 36 months for participants in the intervention group

While the 36 month follow up was being completed, additional funding was obtained to continue the intervention of free essential distribution for only the small subset (n=24) participants who were prescribed treatments for hypertension. So there is 48-month follow up for only this small (n = 24) subset of intervention group participants. This current analysis will be a post-hoc cohort study of participants allocated to receive free essential medicine distribution as part of the CLEAN Meds trial. This analysis will use the prespecified outcomes of the CLEAN Meds trial.

The student will also work with our team to complete current projects related to global essential medicines list and conduct analyses using our database. There will be opportunities to be engaged in other projects as well.

Research Skills and Development Opportunities

  • Quantitative Research
  • Data collection
  • Data analysis (e.g. statistics, coding interviews)
  • Literature Review
  • Project administration/coordination (e.g. research ethic applications, meeting planning)
  • Research writing and dissemination (e.g. abstracts, manuscripts, reports)

SCIENTIST LEAD: Dr. Pat O’Campo

Research Project Description

Past student feedback included that working on multiple projects allows for greater exposure to multiple areas of research. Work offered as part the summer student program with our research team include:

  1. The Safe at Home model advocates that women and her children fleeing violence should have the right to safely stay in their own homes and that the perpetrating partner should be the one to leave. Safe at Home is an inter-sectoral initiative accomplished by pulling together resources across local and provincial government and non-government agencies. The MAP research team is working with stakeholders in the City of Hamilton to tailor the program’s pillars to urban Canadian settings, secure funding, create a blueprint for the program’s cross-sector collaborations and commitments and to co-create and implement a Safe at Home pilot program in the city.
  2. Inequities between precarious workers and standard workers have widened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the Canadian government moved quickly with policy measures to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19, many precarious workers’ needs continued to be overlooked. The COVID-19 and Precarious Employment (COPE) project is a longitudinal mixed-methods research study to understand the impact of the multiple waves of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of Ontario’s precarious workers, and to understand how policies have shaped those impacts. Opportunities for involvement on this project include interview coding using NVIVO 10 and analysis. Opportunities may also include development of dissemination materials such as manuscripts and infographics.

Research Skills and Development Opportunities

  • Qualitative research
  • Data analysis (e.g. statistics, coding interviews)
  • Community engagement

SCIENTIST LEAD: Dr. Sean Rourke

Research Project Description

Unlike other G7 countries, Canada is not seeing a reduction in the number of new people diagnosed with HIV. REACH Nexus is a partnership with front-line, community agencies, people with lived experience, governments, industry and the academic community working to apply implement solutions to end the transmission of HIV in Canada. Since 2019, REACH Nexus has taken national leadership to implement the federal government’s action strategy and priority to reach the undiagnosed with HIV in Canada. REACH Nexus can accelerate this priority in the next 5 years through the I’m Ready to Know Program and Our Healthbox Program.

Our Healthbox program is the first of its kind, implementation science national research program to reach the undiagnosed HIV population. Our Healthbox program is partnering with local community-based organizations to host smart, interactive, vending machines. These machines are placed in key HIV population areas that allow for participants to dispense free HIV self-tests and harm reduction items, learn about HIV, harm reduction and sexual health, and access local services directories to connect to care. Our Healthbox has launched in the Atlantic and REACH is implementing 100 machines across Canada. The project work will include data collection, analysis, interpretation, project management, and community engagement to support the planning and implementation for the sites. This work will contribute to REACH’s strategy on reaching the undiagnosed HIV populations to end HIV in Canada by 2025.

Research Skills and Development Opportunities

  • Mixed methods research
  • Data and statistical analysis (qualitative and quantitative)
  • Excel, Tableau
  • Literature review (PubMed)
  • Project administration/coordination (e.g. research ethic applications, meeting planning)
  • Community engagement
  • Research report writing, abstract submission, communication to funders/key stakeholders

SCIENTIST LEAD: Dr. Stephen Hwang

Dr. Stephen Hwang’s team develops interventions and conducts research and evaluations focused on housing, homelessness, and health. During this program, the student will have a core focus on quantitative research and knowledge sharing in the area of COVID-19 infection and homelessness. The student will work with research staff and community collaborators to analyze and interpret survey data from the Ku-gaa-gii pimitizi-win COVID-19 Cohort Study and translate it into an accessible document for community, service delivery and policy stakeholders. In addition, the student will have an opportunity to learn project management and coordination skills by supporting the development and planning of knowledge sharing outputs and events.

Research Skills and Development Opportunities

  • Quantitative research
  • Literature review
  • Project administration/coordination (e.g. research ethic applications, meeting planning)
  • Community engagement
  • Research writing and dissemination (e.g. abstracts, manuscripts, reports)

Review & Selection Process

  • Eligibility Screen: All applications submitted on or before the deadline will be screened for eligibility requirements (e.g., applications are complete when submitted, transcripts confirm enrollment at Ontario undergraduate program).
  • Review of Letters of Intent: Two reviewers who are experienced researchers currently employed at MAP will be assigned to rate Letters of Intent for each eligible applicant, and their ratings will be averaged to determine the applicant’s final rating. Letters of Intent with highest average ratings overall will be provided to Scientists associated with the projects of interest listed in the application. (Note: transcripts are used solely to confirm eligibility and are not shared with Scientists)
  • Scientists Interview and Select Finalists: Scientists will decide which students they want to invite for an interview and make their final hiring decision based on the Letter of Intent, Interview(s), and References.

Sample Email Template When Requesting a Reference

You need to submit contact information for two people who would be willing to complete a reference form for you if you are selected as a finalist and a Scientist requests them. It would be best to ask your letter writers if they would be willing to compete a reference for you before you submit their contact information to us.

Below is an example of an e-mail that you can use if you’re not sure how to approach your recommender.

***********************

Dear [person’s name],

You have been an important [mentor/supervisor/leader/person/influence] in my life, and that is why I am hoping that you would write me a letter of recommendation. I am applying to a 10-week research opportunity at MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions (located at St. Michael’s Hospital) called the MAP Summer Student Program (https://maphealth.ca/summer-students).

To apply, I need to submit the email address and name of two people who could recommend me. You would only be contacted if I am a finalist for the Program, which I will know sometime in May 2023. If you would be willing to complete a reference form for me, then you would receive an email request and a form for you to complete at that time. Would you be willing to let me list you as a potential reference?

Thank you so much for considering this request.

Contact info

samira.prasad@unityhealth.to

Application deadline

5:00pm EST on March 1, 2023

About MAP

Based at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital (Toronto), MAP is a world-leading research centre dedicated to creating a healthier future for all. Learn more