BMSA Podcast: One Health
Updated: Feb 1
Interviewee: Navia Novosel
Nuzhat: Hello and welcome to the ITR session with BMSA where we interview senior students in the medical science program to give you a better background for your intent to register choices. My name is Nuhzat Jahin and today we’re joined by Navia Novosel, who actually was a previous BMSA V.P. herself. Now she’s graduated and on to dental school in Indiana, so we’re very proud of her and very excited to have her with us today! Navia, take it away, tell me a little bit about yourself!
Navia: Hi there, my name is Navia and I’m really glad to be back! Like Nuzhat said, I was V.P. promotions on BMSA for almost 2-3 years, so it’s been a big part of my undergrad experience; I loved being on BMSA! I’m really familiar with ITR of course, being a Western student myself, and also part of BMSA. To let other students know about different modules out there so they can make better decisions about what they want to do in their third and fourth year in terms of med sci courses: Like Nuzhat said, I graduated last year, I was in the class of 2020, and I graduated from Western’s One Health module, which is relatively new. So just a little bit about One Health, basically a lot of people ask what it is since it’s kind of an unfamiliar concept. At western, it’s actually one of the smallest - or it was one of the smallest when I was there - modules in med sci. So it’s quite common for people not to really know what it is. But, essentially, One Health is just more than a medical science module at Western, it’s really a philosophy for achieving better human health outcomes. So, according to the World Health Organization, One Health is actually an interdisciplinary approach, in which experts from politics, medicine, public health, economics, and environmental science collaborate to create things like policies, programs, and research initiatives to achieve healthier populations both globally and locally. As you can see, One Health is really a big picture concept. So we have modules at Western like immunology or microbiology which are on really small scale, which is also equally important, but if you’re looking for something that’s more big-picture and broader, One Health might be a good choice for you. It’s quite relevant in today’s world, you know, with COVID-19 going on, and there was speculation as to where the virus came from. Did it come from an animal, back where it started in China? Who knows where it came from. So One Health looks at the interdisciplinary connections between humans, animals, and the environment. With other infectious diseases, like the flu, it can come from a bird, which can transfer to a duck, which can transfer to a human, and so on and so on. So it’s really important to understand how those environments that those animals lived in affected and caused them to get a certain disease and how their interactions with humans can create potentially deadly epidemics, endemics, or even pandemics. One Health is really relevant in today’s world, but also at Western. It’s great because you get to learn about all this stuff and all the different scopes of practice that One Health entails. You do have a lot of medical science courses, you have some courses in sociology, you have some courses in geography, so it’s a really broad module, but I definitely enjoyed taking it for sure.
Nuzhat: Wow you really sold it here, you convinced me to switch modules at this point! So did you do a thesis in fourth year, and does One Health offer that?
Navia: Yes! So I’m pretty sure it’s still the same, but back when I was there, just last year, One Health is an honours specialization stream. So you have to take a thesis or do a thesis no matter what, which is actually a great opportunity because if you’re interested in doing a Master’s program, or even a professional program, having that experience of writing a thesis and going through that year-long process is really helpful for that. So, my thesis, I actually focused on exploring the inclusion of dental providers on interprofessional healthcare teams treating patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, so, I know it’s a mouthful, but again, it’s that whole One Health concept where we want to look beyond medical doctors to dentists, and even public health officials, and sometimes economics majors to really understand complex chronic diseases. So, doing the thesis was a great opportunity, and I highly recommend it.
Nuzhat: Yeah that sounds amazing, and very applicable as well. Is there anything you wish you knew before choosing the module?
Navia: One thing I wish I knew is to have been more organized. So, One Health, when I was in first year (so this was almost four years ago now), One Health was just an idea that western didn’t really develop yet, so my class was actually the second graduating class for One Health. The year prior, we only had one person graduate because it was so new. So when I was in first year, I heard about this idea of this new module that was coming to med sci called One Health, and I guess I just thought it was cool and didn’t really look too much into it. But now that it’s a little more established - and I recommend this for anyone choosing any module, it doesn’t have to be just One Health - but to stay organized. I know western’s academic calendar is pretty comprehensive and you can get a lot of information there, so my advice, or something I wish I would have done, is to make sure you’re always checking that you’re taking those courses you need every year that goes by to get into the module you’d like. So, for instance, I’m not sure if this has changed, but One Health didn’t require me to take genetics or methods, so I got to skip out on those classes!
Nuzhat: I’m really wishing I heard this podcast before!
Navia: Those are historically so hard! And the only downside though, again - this is why organization is key - is if I didn’t make the cutoff into One Health, or if it was filled, or whatever the case may be, and I wasn’t able to get into that module, I would have been at a loss because every other module in med sci needs genetics and methods. So it was a little bit of a gamble that I didn’t take that, but luckily things worked out in the end. Like I said, organization is key!
Nuzhat: Yeah, I’m glad it all worked out for you. Was there anything specific about your module that made you choose it? And did you make the decision in first or second year?
Navia: So, when I saw One Health was coming to be in first year, I kind of had that set in the back of my mind that that’s what I wanted to do, so it was pretty established early on. One of the pulling factors that drew me towards One Health was definitely that whole big picture aspect. So I struggle with organic chemistry, and things that are really tiny, that’s hard for me to see and understand, so I thought if something was the complete opposite of that, I might like it, and luckily that was the case and I really did enjoy connecting things and making bigger broader pictures of how to understand health and science! That was definitely what drew me to the course. And I knew it was going to be relatively small, my class had only about 5 or 6 people graduate from the module, so I also really liked that as well.
Nuzhat: Yeah for sure, and are there any other final words you wanted to say for the first or second years listening, who may be going through some confusion for the whole process, so choosing modules, the whole ITR process, all of it?
Navia: A little plug for BMSA: although I’m not a part of it anymore, I’ll help you guys out! I highly recommend attending - we used to do ITR events, and I’m sure you guys still do them - so BMSA holds ITR events that combine different people that take different modules to talk about their experience, kind of like in the form of this podcast for One Health! Utilize clubs that really teach and explain to you the different modules, so you’re getting it from more than just the academic calendar, you’re actually hearing peoples’ personal experiences. So reach out to certain clubs, find out through that! Again, stay organized, always keep up to date on that academic calendar to make sure you’re really getting your courses in. Communicate, talk to people, get as much information as you can, and then that way you can look at everything and make the best decision for you on which module you want to take!
Nuzhat: Alright, thank you so much for the advice, and thank you Navia for joining us today and taking the time out of your busy schedule for us!
Navia: No problem!
Nuzhat: Thank you! And with that, that was BMSA’s ITR session for the One Health module. Check back on our website and social media platforms for ITR podcasts for other modules with new students next week. Thank you for listening and we hope this has been helpful!