Practicum students excel at Bridgepoint Health
This spring, double the amount of Master of Information students at U of T‘s Faculty of Information chose a “practicum” —a one term work placement in organizations across Toronto and surrounding areas from May 7 to June 22.
Students choose from 67 hosts/organizations including the Toronto Public Library, Ontario Ministry of Environment, Mount Sinai Hospital, CTV, Archives of Ontario, Kitchener Public Library, University Health Network, Oxford Properties Group, and the United Way Toronto.
Two first-year Knowledge Management and Information Management students, Janice Law (left) and Karey Fan (right), spent their practicum working at Bridgepoint Health, a health network that specializes in “understanding, treating, and managing complex chronic disease.”
Janice and Karey’s projects focused on Bridgepoint’s Collaboratory for Research and Innovation, a virtual hub whose aim is to encourage collaboration between researchers in many fields to better attack chronic disease. They were interviewed by Shabeen Hanifa in the June 18th edition of The Point, the Bridgepoint newsletter.
Karey focused on information retrieval, initially planning to create a search syntax that would make locating relevant information easier. As she researched the subject though, Karey changed the scope of her practicum to match what she was experiencing.
She noticed that Complex Chronic Disease (CCD) is referred to by various definitions, making it difficult to find information in the PubMed database. Karey’s project shifted to identifying how the different definitions of CCD affect what results are returned during a database search. Karey says this should help refine searches and provide groundwork for developing a search syntax in the future.
“This helps reduce the search time and optimizes their use of research databases,” she says.
Janice was tasked with identifying a knowledge-sharing platform for the Collaboratory. After speaking with researchers and investigating available options, she recommended that it start by implementing a shared blog, where researchers could post results and research in real-time, and receive feedback and suggestions much more quickly than through the traditional peer-review publication process.
One of Bridgepoint Health’s Epidemiologists, Alexis Schaink, said it was a pleasure working with Janice and Karey.
“Their reports give us solid ideas about how to approach the ongoing development of our content expertise and knowledge sharing platform. This helps inform and contributes to more efficiencies within our work.”
About the Practicums
Students can choose a practicum course, INF2173 and INF2158, for one term (fall, winter or summer), after completing the required core courses. The practicum gives them “exposure to professional practice, a good networking opportunity, and real work experience to put on their resume,” says iSchool Career Officer, Isidora Petrovic.
“The hosts benefit from this opportunity as well by gaining access to highly motivated and capable students who can bring newly acquired knowledge, skills and enthusiasm to their work environment.”
The unpaid student practicums earn the students grades and a practical work experience, while employers find it a cost-effective way of evaluating potential future employees.