Policy Assignments

The following is a listing of the six available policy assignments. Please note that you may only choose one assignment.

# Title Host policy organization Location Duration Supervisor
1 Policy research, analysis and development to increase access to primary health care for First Nations in BC First Nations Health Authority Vancouver, BC 12 months Kevin Lowe, Team Lead (Primary Health Care & Health Benefits)
2 Interface of population and public health with primary care homes: Best practices model for alignment and support Population and Public Health Program, Fraser Health Surrey, BC 10-12 months Dr. Arlene King, Interim Executive Medical Director & Medical Health Officer

For more information, please contact Samantha Tong
3 Integrating equity and cultural safety lenses to promote Indigenous health in BC’s southern interior Interior Health, Population Health Portfolio
 
Flexible, with some time required in Kelowna, BC 12 months Dr. Sue Pollock, Medical Health Officer

For more information, please contact Kim Barnes
4 Cultural safety health policy development Island Health (Aboriginal Health and the Office of Policy and Policy Integration
and Implementation)
Victoria, BC 12 months, flexibility with start date Penny Cooper, South Island Manager, Aboriginal Health
5 Mobilizing evidence to inform person and family centred care policy practices in Northern Health Northern Health Prince Rupert or Prince George, BC 12 months Sheila Gordon-Payne, Chief Nursing Officer and Lead, Professional Practice
6 Towards a provincial policy framework for substance use services in BC British Columbia Mental Health Substance Use Services (BCMHSUS)

British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC)

Provincial Health Services Authority
Vancouver, BC 12 months Dr. Johann Brink, VP, Medical Affairs & Research, BCMHSUS

Dr. Jane Buxton, Physician Epidemiologist, BCCDC, Professor UBC School of Population and Public Health

Return to Health Policy Fellowship Program overview.


Title: Policy research, analysis and development to increase access to primary health care for First Nations in BC

Host policy organization: First Nations Health Authority

Location: Vancouver, BC
Duration: 12 months
Supervisor: Kevin Lowe, Team Lead (Primary Health Care & Health Benefits)

Suggested areas of expertise*: One or more of: primary health care, traditional wellness, mental health and wellness, oral health, interdisciplinary care teams.

*FNHA will assist in supporting a strong candidate that doesn’t currently have an institutional affiliation to help secure a supervisor with their academic partners at UBC or SFU.

Summary: First Nations’ needs and interests are now, more than ever, being considered and included in mainstream health care policy development and service delivery, including primary health care (PHC). PHC typically encompasses a spectrum of health care models that range from first contact health care delivery that is comprehensive, patient-centred, and sustainable, to those that incorporate health promotion and disease prevention.

The First Nations Health Authority’s (FNHA) approach to PHC, referred to as Primary Health Care ++ (PHC++), is, at its core, based on the First Nations Perspective on Health and Wellness.[1] This strengths-based perspective is holistic and emphasizes physical, social, mental and emotional wellness, rather than simply responding to illness. FNHA’s PHC++ approach is inclusive of Traditional Wellness, Mental Wellness, and Oral Health.

The legacy of colonialism has resulted in poorer health outcomes for First Nations in BC, including poorer access to health services. The proposed policy assignment will advance PHC by ensuring that the holistic First Nations Perspective on Health and Wellness is at the core of a person and relationship-based model of care that is inclusive of traditional PHC supports, such as access to general practitioners and nurses, as well as mental wellness, traditional wellness, and oral health. The fellow will be asked to research, analyze and develop policies to reduce barriers to PHC for First Nations Peoples in BC in order to increase access to PHC for First Nations Peoples in BC. Working with the Strategic Policy Team in the Policy, Planning and Transformation department, the fellow will engage in policy work aimed at improving access to PHC through analyzing system-based barriers to PHC and supporting the development and implementation of innovative, community-based PHC models.

The fellow will bring a range of scientific expertise in First Nations health and strong understanding of PHC policies and service delivery. Expertise in mental wellness, traditional wellness, and oral health is desirable. An understanding of the social determinants of health as a key contributor to health inequities will embed health equity as a core value for policy work in PHC. In addition, this assignment presents an opportunity to draft research publications on timely health policy topics that further the collective knowledge-base of indigenous health issues in BC and abroad.

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[1] www.fnha.ca/wellness/wellness-and-the-first-nations-health-authority/fir...


Title: Policy research, analysis and development to enhance access to primary health care for First Nations in BC through primary care home models

Host policy organization: Population and Public Health Program, Fraser Health
Location: Surrey, BC
Duration: 10-12 months
Supervisor: Dr. Arlene King, Interim Executive Medical Director & Medical Health Officer; for more information, please contact Samantha Tong

Suggested areas of expertise: Population and public health, sociology, primary care, social determinants of health, and upstream prevention would be helpful.

Summary: At Fraser Health (FH), the Population and Public Health (PPH) Program’s primary role is to complement health care services by effectively addressing population-wide health issues in order to achieve the greatest impact with preventive interventions targeted at the population as a whole, or at vulnerable groups, rather than individuals (i.e. upstream prevention). Examples of upstream prevention include advocating for healthy public policies (e.g. smoke free policies; affordable housing for vulnerable groups) and influencing the social, economic and physical environments in which people live, learn, work and play. A key governmental priority with significant potential impact on PPH’s vision to move towards upstream prevention is the development of Primary Care Homes (PCHs), patient-centred medical settings where inter-professional team-based care is expanded around a physician practice to meet all the primary care needs of the population in a community or neighbourhood.

Currently, FH is exploring ways in which primary care services can be supported to improve the access and continuity of care for our populations. The purpose of this policy assignment will be to inform how PPH can best support PCH to improve access to primary care services while ensuring we achieve FH’s vision of moving upstream and the goals set by the BC Guiding Framework for Public Health/Healthy Families BC[2] in key areas including healthy living, healthy communities, and maternal, child and family health.

The fellow will help build a new high-quality knowledge base that can be used to inform how other PPH programs in BC can align and support PCHs and the emerging trend towards community-based care. The assignment will inform policy decision-making on the complex PPH – PCH interface. This work will build on the planning underway for PCHs as well as PPH’s recent review of its programs and services. A key goal is to ensure the health system is strengthened overall. The assignment will involve a systematic approach and scientific research methodologies to: 1) develop an evidence-based strategic policy framework on the Population and PPH – PCH interface that includes roles and responsibilities; and 2) conduct an evaluation of the pilot implementation of this framework. Expertise in the utilization of databases, literature reviews, qualitative research, policy analysis (including costing), evaluation as well as an understanding of PPH and health systems change would be helpful for this assignment.

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[2] www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2013/BC-guiding-framework...


Title: Integrating equity and cultural safety lenses to promote Indigenous health in BC’s southern interior

Host policy organization: Interior Health, Population Health Portfolio
Location: Flexible, with some time required in Kelowna, BC
Duration: 12 months
Supervisor: Dr. Sue Pollock, Medical Health Officer; for more information, please contact Kim Barnes

Suggested areas of expertise: Cultural safety training, research and knowledge translation methods relevant to health equity, working with Indigenous communities in research, knowledge translation, or equivalent.

Summary: Interior Health (IH) serves more than 215,000 km2 of BC’s southern interior. This part of BC falls within the traditional, unceded territories of the Secwepemc, Ktunaxa, Syilx, Nlaka’pamux, Ulkatcho, Tsilhqot’in and St’at’imc peoples. Within these territories are people, both on and off reserve, who live in small urban, rural or remote communities. The First Nations, Metis, and Inuit populations served by IH are disproportionately affected by health inequities. With a mandate from the BC government, IH is realigning its resources and organizational structure with a goal to: shift the focus of health care from acute and residential care facilities to community programs and services; focus on key populations; and reduce the growth in demand on acute care capacity, all while living within our financial means. Among the key strategies for achieving these goals are specific efforts to improve primary and community care, seniors care, mental health and substance use, and Aboriginal health and the rural/remote network of care.

IH’s Aboriginal Health team is currently exploring ways in which health equity and cultural safety can be more systematically integrated into IH’s operational processes, program planning, and policy arenas. This policy assignment will focus on creating a policy proposal for broad integration of health equity impact assessments into the cultural fabric of IH — making culturally safe, equity-centred thinking the norm for leadership and practice in our organization. This policy assignment will entail a range of activities focused on applying the lessons learned from addressing a specific, high-priority equity issue to advance culturally safe, equity-centred thinking in leadership and practice. Given that contexts and priorities are fluid, the specific issue will be determined in collaboration with the policy supervisor, the VP, population health and the Aboriginal Health team within the first two weeks of the policy assignment. Drawing on what is learned from the specific health equity issue, the policy fellow will work with IH leadership to create a strategic plan for capacity building and policy change that will enable the advancement of a systems-wide policy agenda aimed at integrating cultural safety and health equity assessment into IH policy and operations.

Overall, the policy assignment will raise awareness about health equity and contribute to cultivate a norm of culturally safe, equity-centred thinking in leadership and practice. The health policy fellow will bring their health research expertise and engaged scholarship methodologies (e.g. action research, integrated knowledge translation), and will provide an important contribution to advancing an evidence-informed policy agenda. Given the nature of the policy assignment, and leveraging existing IH relationships, the fellow will be introduced to stakeholders and potential collaborators within the First Nations Health Authority and with First Nations’ governments, and have daily exposure to a range of IH staff, from frontline practitioners to senior leadership.

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Title: Cultural safety health policy development

Host policy organization: Island Health (Aboriginal Health and the Office of Policy and Policy Integration and Implementation)
Location: Victoria, BC
Duration: 12 months, flexibility with start date
Supervisor: Penny Cooper, South Island Manager, Aboriginal Health

Suggested areas of expertise: Knowledge of Aboriginal social determinants of health, Aboriginal research methods, trauma informed practice, nursing, sociology, population and public health, and cultural competency and/or knowledge in cultural safety would be helpful.

Summary: Directed by key instruments, such as The 2015 Declaration of Commitment by BC’s Health Authorities CEOs, the 2017-2021 Island Health’s Aboriginal Health Plan, Canada’s TRC Calls to Action, UNDRIP, 1996 RCAP, and BC’s 2013 TIP, the purpose of this assignment is to advance Island Health’s current approach to integrating cultural safety into its environment and operational workings. Within the current context of Canadian reconciliation, Island Health is a front runner in striving to integrate cultural safety. It is recognized at the community, provincial, national and international levels that Aboriginal peoples experience disparities in health outcomes due to the root causes of colonization and racism. Cultural safety is an important principle that addresses these concerns and supports improved health care for Aboriginal peoples. According to the First Nations Health Authority, cultural safety is the outcome of an approach that creates an environment free of racism and discrimination where people feel safe receiving care. It is endorsed as best practice by multiple health associations and regulatory colleges.

This policy assignment will provide a fellow the opportunity to advance health care policy, publish papers, and connect with numerous health care professionals within organizations such as the BC Ministry of Health, First Nations Health Authority, Provincial Health Services Authority, and Interior Health. In a flexible and collaborative manner, the fellow will build relationships with local Aboriginal peoples and communities, gather, reflect on, analyze and interpret feedback about the experiences of Aboriginal peoples who do or do not access Island Health services. The fellow, Island Health, Aboriginal communities and organizations will use the data gathered and collaboratively work toward the development of a cultural safety policy and implementation strategy.

Island Health has in place a Cultural Safety Program that includes two facilitators and a multi-step curriculum for physicians, staff, volunteers, contractors, and students. As cultural safety is a new and evolving health care strategy, this assignment will help advance understanding of the ways in which culturally safe policy, practice, and services can improve health care access and optimize outcomes for Aboriginal peoples. The assignment will be strengthened by the fellow’s knowledge of areas such as sociology, trauma informed practice, nursing, Aboriginal health, cultural competency/safety, population health, in evidence and knowledge synthesis and in implementation and evaluation (including strength-based wellness indicators).

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Title: Mobilizing evidence to inform person and family centred care policy practices in Northern Health

Host policy organization: Northern Health
Location: Prince Rupert or Prince George, BC
Duration: 12 months
Supervisor: Sheila Gordon-Payne, Chief Nursing Officer and Lead, Professional Practice

Suggested areas of expertise: Interest in one or more of the following: knowledge mobilization, evaluation, rural/northern health care, nursing, primary care.

Summary: Northern Health (NH) delivers health care across northern BC and serves about 300,000 people, many of whom are Aboriginal. More than 7,000 people are employed by NH in over two dozen hospitals, 14 complex care facilities, many public health units and various offices providing specialized services. Improving the delivery of rural health services is a key health care priority for the BC government. In April 2015, NH embarked upon a deliberate path to Person and Family-Centred Care to expand and strengthen pockets of success using evidence-based consistent approaches. Person and Family-Centred Care is an approach to the planning, delivery, and evaluation of health services grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships among health providers, patients/clients and families. The principles of Person and Family-Centred Care are: dignity and respect, information sharing, participation, and collaboration. NH is therefore providing a unique opportunity for a qualified applicant to explore the relationship between a Person and Family-Centred framework for health care policy development and implementation in the predominantly rural northern context.

This assignment will support strategic embedding of Person and Family-Centred Care in regional policies and clinical practice standards through the development of an evidence-based assessment rubric that will be integrated into the policy development process. It will aid in establishing and supporting a culture of Person and Family-Centred Care in NH strategic objectives, including improving the person and family experience, enhancing person/provider relationships, enhancing safe and effective shared communication and optimizing access to the health system and health information. The scientific expertise of the fellow will ensure academic rigour in conducting environmental scanning and knowledge synthesis through identification, review and analysis of published and grey literature. The fellow will play a central role in the development and study of an evidenced-based policy assessment rubric, and in the design of a research study to validate the assessment rubric, involving critical appraisal of NH policy development processes and/or published policies.

The fellow will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with health policy developers from all across the Northern region in a variety of capacities, from front-line educators to administrative executives. The strong collaborative relationship that exists between NH and the University of Northern BC will allow for many opportunities to connect with local researchers representing a broad range of research areas beyond health services research, and will provide the fellow with exposure to senior leadership forums and committees as well as policy development and implementation forums and discussions, thus forming a rich and highly beneficial experience in health policy work.

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Title: Towards a provincial policy framework for substance use services in BC

Host policy organization: British Columbia Mental Health Substance Use Services (BCMHSUS), British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), Provincial Health Services Authority
Location: Vancouver, BC
Duration: 12 months
Supervisor: Dr. Johann Brink, VP, Medical Affairs & Research, BCMHSUS; Dr. Jane Buxton, Physician Epidemiologist, BCCDC, Professor UBC School of Population and Public Health

Suggested areas of expertise: One or more of the following: social sciences, pharmacology, psychology, health administration, health legislation and policy analysis, community engagement, knowledge translation, environmental scanning, evaluation framework development.

Summary: Opioid use disorder is one of the most challenging forms of addiction facing the health care system in BC and is a major driver of the recent surge in illicit drug overdose deaths in the province. In the context of the current public health emergency, there is an urgent need for a policy framework articulating the full range of therapeutic options for the optimal treatment and harm reduction measures of adults and youth with varying presentations of opioid use disorder, ranging from primary to tertiary levels of care. The BCCDC and BCMHSUS propose the development of a framework that is provincial in scope and outlines a proposed continuum of care including evidence-based harm reduction and treatment approaches for individuals in BC who require/access harm reduction/overdose prevention and opioid treatment services. The end goal of this assignment is to propose a continuum of care policy framework, specifically around care pathways for people with opioid use or opioid use disorder, and contribute to the current development of an overarching provincial substance use policy framework. Ultimately, this policy assignment will help advance BC drug policy through collaboration with the various task groups who filter information up to the BC Ministry of Health to inform the current work in establishing an overarching policy framework for substance use.

The fellow working on this assignment will benefit in a variety of different ways. The fellow will be provided in-depth experience of working closely with policy analysts and senior decision makers in the BC Ministry of Health, the regional health authorities (including PHSA/BCMHSUS and First Nations Health Authority, BCCDC) and various departments/Faculties at UBC and SFU regarding the health crisis situation. The fellow will have a chance to collaborate with first responders, emergency health services, health care providers, NGOs, policy analysts, health care mangers and decision makers, policy analysts and people with lived experience throughout the term of the assignment. In addition, the assignment allows for an opportunity to develop policy-development expertise and to contribute in a meaningful manner to a model of care for British Columbians who use opioids and other illicit substances, and for the fellows to assume a central role in contributing to a comprehensive policy framework for substance use in BC and structure a continuum of care model that is evidence based, accessible, acceptable, appropriate, and effective.

The fellow will interact with experts and researchers at BCCDC, BCMHSUS, Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addictions at SFU, UBC Division of Addiction Psychiatry, and others. These interactions are expected to provide an excellent opportunity for experiencing first-hand how research is conducted and how policy development can facilitate the translation of research findings into evidence based clinical practice.

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