PhD in Health and Exercise Sciences
Dr. Mary Jung
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship
UBC Okanagan Public Scholar
The care that clients, patients, and members receive in the health and fitness industry matters. Small Steps for Big Changes (SSBC) is a diabetes prevention program delivered at the YMCA of Southern Interior BC that aims to empower individuals at risk of developing type 2 diabetes to make diet and exercise changes. For a health program to be effective, those delivering the program need to provide inclusive, equitable, and empathic care. My research is focused on developing, implementing, and evaluating an online training platform for SSBC coaches. Using a partnered approach and a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) lens, I co-developed seven online training modules with previous SSBC coaches that focus on cultural safety, person-centered communication, and SSBC program content. This training provides further education to YMCA staff becoming SSBC coaches and ensures that clients are provided high-quality care.
WHAT DOES BEING A PUBLIC SCHOLAR MEAN TO YOU?
Public scholarship is about respecting and considering diverse forms of knowledge and expertise (e.g., lived experience), considering equity and inclusion in all decisions, and engaging appropriate stakeholders throughout the research process.
IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU THINK THE PHD EXPERIENCE CAN BE RE-IMAGINED WITH THE PUBLIC SCHOLARS INITIATIVE?
The Public Scholars Initiative encourages and supports PhD students to get creative in both the forms of knowledge that they consider in their work (e.g., personal stories) and the dissemination of their findings (e.g., videos).
HOW DO YOU ENVISION CONNECTING YOUR PHD WORK WITH BROADER CAREER POSSIBILITIES?
I plan on taking what I’ve learned throughout my PhD with regard to DEI and developing and evaluating training programs to tie into a job related to increasing diversity and improving equity and inclusion within an organization.
HOW DOES YOUR RESEARCH ENGAGE WITH THE LARGER COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL PARTNERS?
My research would not be possible without my community partners, namely, the YMCA of Southern Interior BC and the Small Steps for Big Changes program. Together, with these partners, we co-developed online training modules and are working to evaluate it. The training modules were developed with and for Small Steps for Big Changes coaches.
HOW DO YOU HOPE YOUR WORK CAN MAKE A CONTRIBUTION TO THE PUBLIC GOOD?
The goal of my PhD work is to develop training for fitness facility staff to learn how to provide inclusive, safe, and person-centered care. If people (e.g., members) feel safe, included, and empowered to make changes that work within their own life, they are more likely to make healthy changes that they can maintain over long periods of time. Thus, my work is contributing to better care for fitness facility members and further education for fitness facility staff.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE A GRADUATE DEGREE?
When I was little, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I did know that I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I decided to pursue graduate school because it could allow me to make a difference in the areas that I was interested in – health, communication, and EDI. Graduate school has provided me with the flexibility and support to explore complex problems and attempt to find some solutions.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO UBC OKANAGAN AND STUDY?
Dr. Jung’s research on chronic disease prevention with a person-centered approach drew me to UBC Okanagan. My values aligned with Dr. Jung’s approach to conducting rigorous and community-partnered research. I was also attracted by the breadth and quality of work occurring within the School of Health and Exercise Sciences.
Kaela Cranston is a UBC Okanagan Public Scholar. Learn more about the Public Scholars Initiative (PSI).