Featured Student

Yuliya Knyahnytska

What’s your program and specialty/subject matter of focus?

I am a PhD candidate in DLSPH’s Health and Behaviour stream studying diabetes management for people with severe mental illnesses. This population has very high rates of diabetes, leading to a life expectancy 15-20 years less compared to the general population. Diabetes in this population also presents a growing challenge for health care in general.

I am using a methodological approach called institutional ethnography (IE) to uncover hidden forces which impact clinical care of this population. This new lens allows me to approach gaps in care from a policy perspective rather than from an individual change focus, which is prevalent in healthcare now.

Why are you studying public health/health policy?

I believe that any change requires a strategic vision. In a publicly funded system it is crucially important to have an in-depth understanding of how policies are developed and living during our everyday practices.

I am also very interested in population health in general and ways of improving it on a larger scale.

My very specific area is mental health and patients with complex conditions. I firmly believe that populations with complex needs are the biggest challenge for health system and I am interested in developing programs which are both policy-oriented and complexity-based. Being a physician myself, I witness firsthand the intersected complexities of my patients’ lives, which are often missing from the radar of interventions. Working on policy level allows undressing this gap .

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

DLSPH is committed to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities and societies through research and education in the social and behavioural health sciences. It is unique in a sense that it’s not just advancing the social and behavioural sciences in the field of public health, but it provides a unique opportunity to learn about the structures and processes that underlie health and health promotion, illness, premature mortality, injury and disability.

It’s committed to the broadest possible approaches, not solely restricted to the bio-medical model, but rather expanded into social sciences, anthropology, and psychology. Health and wellbeing are complex concepts, and I appreciate the opportunity to learn it as such. DLSPH advocates for improvement and development of services on a broader scale, not only health.

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

I am a Clinical fellow in Brainstimulation with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health working with people with complex, treatment resistant conditions, such as depression and psychosis.

I am also a co-investigator on several projects: “A Pilot Study to Determine the Safety and Efficacy of H-Coil Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Anorexia Nervosa”, randomized control trial to test effectiveness of Concerta vs CBT for people with Binge Eating Disorder, and qualitative study to examine personal experiences of research participants .

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

If you want to make a real change in people lives on broader level, this is a place to go. UofT and DLSPH have unique traditions and I am very proud to be a part of them.

Being a highly educated professional who immigrated into a new country with no friends or support, I know firsthand that life can be taught. So does learning. Your learning here will not be easy. It will test your dedication, it will push you to your limits, it will challenge your assumptions…and it will change your world, as it has changed mine.

Through tears, sweat, and laughs you will grow into skillful, knowledgeable, and very passionate professional who is ready and able to change the world, locally and globally. If you are passionate about changing this world for the better, this is your school.

You will meet world leaders, see amazing work of your peers, and have the opportunity to do great work of your own. This is an amazing place to be.

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

Lifelong learning. Knowledge is power. In today’s current rapidly changing world, we need to adopt, to challenge our assumptions, to be open minded and accepting of different perspectives. We all need to work towards better, cleaner, healthier future for ALL, not just some.