Featured Student

Fareen Karachiwalla

What’s your program and subject matter of focus?        

I am currently a fourth year resident in the Public Health & Preventive Medicine (PHPM) residency program.  PHPM is a post graduate medical specialty, which students undertake for a period of five years after they complete medical school.  It trains you to become a leader in the field of Public Health, like a Medical Officer of Health for example.  My topic area of interest in this field is Social Determinants of Health, Health Equity, and Healthy Public Policy.

Why are you studying public health/health policy?

I am studying Public Health & Preventive Medicine because throughout my clinical work in medical school and in family medicine, I have experienced just how influential structural and social factors, like access to the health system, housing, income, access to voting rights, etc. are in determining why some individuals or groups of people are healthier than others.  For me, studying public health gives me the opportunity to broaden my skills so I can begin to address these underlying health determinants.

Why did you choose to study at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health?

I chose to study at the University of Toronto because it has some leading experts in the area of healthy public policy, health equity and social determinants.  Our residency program has graduated excellent Canadian leaders in these areas of interest to me.  As well, the program has a diverse group of residents with varying backgrounds and interests, is flexible and learner focused, and caters to those wishing to develop skills in non-traditional areas of public health like media relations, politics and governance.

What are some current projects or research that you’re involved in?

I am involved in various projects including:

  • A review of policies of Local Housing Authorities with respect to the admission of ex-offender populations into subsidized housing in the USA
  • A mixed method paper surveying family physicians in Toronto regarding their experiences providing care to transitioning transgender patients
  • Methods and best practices to engage stakeholders for organizations wishing to provide home remediation services to patients with asthma and lead poisoning
  • A review of interventions benefitting the health of prison populations

What would you say to a prospective student who is considering the School?

This institution is a great place to be.  The professors are approachable and easy to meet with, and you have people here working on all sorts of different things – something is sure to fit your interests.

 What’s the one thing people can do to improve public health or health care locally and/or globally?

Question the institutions and projects you are a part of.  I think the only way innovation and change can take place is if we have questioning minds and do not just continue initiatives because they have been in place for a while.  We really need to think critically about potential harms, utility and cost of the public health interventions, based on sound evidence.

Do not be afraid of politics and politicians.  Policy and legislation is what drives our funding, programing and systems.  We can’t shy away from engaging in this domain because a lack of our voice means space for less informed/evidence driven voices.