Research Assistant, Urvee Karve
Urvee Karve joined the Network team in September 2017. She is in her fourth year pursuing an Honours in Geography where her interests are in geographic information systems/science (GIS), cartography, climate science and sustainability. Taking on this role has aligned well to both her interests and learning goals, as she was able to understand the importance of and need for sustainability in planning health services in rural areas. She is strongly involved in the catchment project when she joined the network and in this process, she was able to apply the GIS and cartography skills she gained in the classroom in her role within the Network. In conjunction with the catchment tool project, she is working on creating a background paper that focuses on rural health strategies to cope with climate change for RHSRNbc’s upcoming symposium in 2020.
What is your role as a Research Assistant at the Network?
I am currently working on the ‘Catchments’ project, which involves creating a GIS database of several rural communities in BC with one-hour drive time catchment maps to measure the distance to healthcare (for more details on this project visit the GIS Catchment Tool page). Working on this project has helped me gain real-world experience in the GIS field by refining my mapping and data management skills. Another work plan I am involved in is contributing to a background paper that focuses on exploring literature around the intersection of climate change and rural health services. This document is important in helping us contextualize this theme, identify gaps in our understanding with the existing literature, and serves as a planning document that will help us for structuring our symposium in May 2020.
What did you learn about rural health services in this position?
Prior to joining the Network, I was not aware of the realities rural communities faced in accessing health services, as the barriers can range from geography to transportation. I was surprised to learn more about health services planning and how different it was from my assumptions. Working at the Network has helped me gain historical and current knowledge of rural health within BC and appreciate considerations for how contextual each rural community will be when planning for health services.
Being part of the RHSRNbc team has given me the opportunity to gain meaningful work experience and acquire knowledge about the health challenges faced by rural populations in BC. Moreover, the skill sets I have gained through real world experiences allow me to apply the knowledge in the classroom.
How has your work in rural health and related opportunities in the Network-enabled your professional development and competencies?
We have Professional Development sessions at the office, where I had opportunities to present on topics pertaining to my expertise (i.e., GIS and Cartography) to my colleagues. I was also able to expand my knowledge on topics in public health such as Knowledge Translation, patient voice in healthcare planning, telehealth and maternity care from my colleagues’ presentations. I also had the opportunity to present our work on the ‘Catchments’ project during ‘Research Rounds’ at the Department of Family Practice, which not only developed my presentation skills, but also helped me understand perspectives faculty, staff, and healthcare professionals had on our project. In addition, I got the opportunity to be a part of the RHSRNbc’s Prince George outreach, where we visited UNBC to collaborate with researchers in the north and learn about ongoing initiatives they are doing to enhance research capacity in rural health services.
Moreover, I was able to polish my writing, oratory and networking skills through other opportunities offered by the RHSRNbc such as attending advisory committee meetings, work trips, and presenting our work in events.
How have you been able to merge your interests with the work you are doing in rural health?
Given my strong interest in sustainability, I value achieving health equity among rural populations and creating awareness on this issue. The Network supports rural health sustainability by supporting rural health researchers to conduct more research in rural health to contribute to evidence-based findings for health planning and quality improvement. The Network has been a supportive space that is open to innovation among team members by encouraging independent exploration, which has not only helped me contribute to the evolution of the GIS Catchment Tool project, but has also helped me in understanding what my strengths and weaknesses are.