Work Learn Students

Since 2017, the Branch for International Surgical Care (BISC) has employed ten students through UBC’s Work Learn Program. The Work Learn Program supports meaningful work experiences that offer current UBC students the opportunity to develop professional skills and learn in a work environment, as well as a chance to apply knowledge in practical settings while progressing with personal learning goals.

Work Learn students have been from many different educational and personal backgrounds and have greatly contributed to various aspects of BISC operations and enriched the experiences of learners in our educational programs.

This Work Learn Student page highlights the contributions of our past Work Learn students as they share their experiences working at BISC.

Hannah Foggin, BSc

Program: Combined Major in Science

What were your main responsibilities and projects at BISC?  

I was the first Work Learn student at the BISC so my role constantly evolved to the growing projects and programs that we offered. With a small, passionate team, I had the opportunity to be involved in a bit of everything and to learn on the go! I am so thankful for the opportunity to have worked here.

My daily responsibilities included social media posting about global surgical care, and prospective/current student support with application, registration, graduation, and other inquiries for our Graduate Certificate (GCGSC) and Masters (MGSC) in Global Surgical Care programs. I also continued to field faculty and the advisory committee questions about Branch activities and about our transition to the Canvas learning platform.

My first two big projects were to (1) re-design and to copy edit our website, and (2) to put together our 2017-2021 Strategic Plan. To our website, I made additions including our current Canadian and global projects and information about our faculty and advisory committee's academic and field contributions. I learned how to use publishing software to design the Strategic Plan, and I continued to use this new skill for posters, brochures, presentations, the first 2 BISC newsletters, and consistency in our UBC BISC brand appearance online for the rest of my time in the role.

Project-wise, I supported the following in roles that varied from partner liaison and fundraiser support to logic model and budget development: the Bilateral Clinical Exchange Partnership Project in Mexico, through the Canadian Collaborative Center of Excellence for Global Humanitarian Surgical Care (CCCEGHSC); the Reconstructing Women International Partnership Project in India; the Spine Deformity and Trauma Capacity Building programs in Ethiopia (see our Projects page for more information). Finally, I also had the chance to support the Engineers in Scrubs' MedTech Cafe for engineered solutions to challenges in global surgical care; and to help organize the first BISC Rounds, including obtaining MOC accreditation.

How has your experience at BISC contributed to your professional development?

I have personally felt conflicted about how to support global health and global surgical field work as someone who hasn't yet fully completed any professional training program to do so. The Work Learn position at the BISC was the perfect opportunity to be working in the field with the skills I had at the time - a dream job of sorts. It has kickstarted what I hope to be many decades of growing clinical involvement in global surgical capacity building. By way of the professional connections I had during my work term, I was connected to research opportunities and subsequent publications which were the impetus to growing academic research involvement.

What are you doing now and what are your future career aspirations?

I am now in my third year of medical school and excited to be peripherally involved with the BISC once again through the MSF-UBC Partnership: Essential Surgical Skills Training Program, working to re-design some of the obstetric module content. I hope to begin an obstetrics and gynecology residency program in 2022 as the next step in my career in order to become well trained in high risk obstetrics and perhaps subsequently in maternal fetal medicine. Equipped with skills gained in residency and a heart to learn from and support other health systems, I hope in my career to continue building local capacity in lower resource settings in BC, Canada, and globally for safe obstetric and gynecologic care.

What is your favourite memory during your term at BISC?

This is a hard question! It was the amazing combination of everything that made this my favorite job. I love mornings and I love the surroundings of Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) in the spring and summer especially, so I'd wake up excited to go to VGH for a walk around the hospital followed by whichever morning rounds I was allowed to go to, followed by stepping into the office and seeing someone as excited about the work being done as I was. I love checking off items of value on a 'to-do list', and this job was just that - a large collection of ways to support projects and programs that indirectly connected me to a global community of patients and physicians in global surgical care. I loved seeing the end product of the strategic plan, of presentations made at research days and rounds, of faculty and resident research and teaching, and so much more. And I just loved the team - Dr. Robert Taylor, Dr. Brian Westerberg, and Elenor Ball-Banting at the time - all of whom were so inspiring in their work and in their words, driven by hearts postured to serve. The faces of the team have since changed; they too are wonderful and I am thankful for the work they do.

Evonne Tran, BSc

Program: Global Resource Systems in Global Health and Nutrition

What were your main responsibilities and projects at BISC?  

My main responsibilities were expansive as I took on admin, project/event coordination and communication tasks. Examples include creating education materials such as newsletters, presentations, brochures, and posters. Design-related tasks involved improving the User Interface (UI) design for the website and publishing visual aids to circulate in newsletters or the web. Other components of my work plan were to promote events and BISC news through relevant listservs and communities along with supporting various administrative tasks.

How has your experience at BISC contributed to your professional development?

My experience at BISC was really pivotal to my professional development, as the opportunity enabled me to expand my skill set and identify areas of improvement. What helped drive me forward in other roles was recognizing early on in this work the importance of establishing a workflow that allows me to work efficiently and be a team player. I have learned a ton about project coordination, communication design, and how to navigate stress when working under pressure.

What are you doing now and what are your future career aspirations?

I wear many hats working in both academia and the creative industry (i.e., graphic design). My current roles include working as a Communications and Design Assistant for the UBC Men's Health Research Program, a Design Consultant for a research group at the UBC Department of Family Practice and as a Project Coordinator at Atom Studio. My future career aspiration is to become a visual design consultant helping people with brand identity and making their work more accessible through design to intended audiences.

What is your favourite memory during your term at BISC?

I remembered how amazing my team was in all the work that they did! It really inspired me to strive to go above and beyond to further learn and continue to grow both personally and professionally. It was such an honor to be able to work with them!

Maryam AboMoslim, BSc

Program: BSc (Hons) in Nutritional Studies with an interest in International Health

MSc (in progress) in Experimental Medicine focus on Virtual Care

What were your main responsibilities and projects at BISC?  

I was with BISC when it was undergoing 2 critical changes: 1) Moving from the old office in Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) into the new office in the Diamond Health Care Centre (DHCC), and 2) the launch and enrollment of the first cohort of the Master in Global Surgical Care. It was an extremely busy time, and I handled a wide variety of tasks. I would say though that the majority of time I spend managing our external communications, website updates and social media platforms , creating material for the MGSC, GCGSC, newsletter, etc., and working with UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and students to ensure their smooth application, admission and transition into our graduate programs.

How has your experience at BISC contributed to your professional development?

BISC helped prepare me really well for many aspects of professional life. It exposed me to the amount of planning, administration, and just woman-power required to remain productive in the academic sphere. It was the soft skills that I learned that are serving me now, three years later!

What are you doing now and what are your future career aspirations?

Since BISC, I ended up working in the UBC Mobile Health Research group as a Research Assistant where I started off in a very administrative role. I quickly became a Research Coordinator within the lab where I was able to focus on data science, international development and public health, infectious disease monitoring and most of all mobile health. As of January 2021, I started my Master of Science in Experimental Medicine in international development ethics and mobile health and am a Research Award Recipient 2021 in the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). I hope to stay in academia for a long time, and hope to either become a professor, or to be in a role where much like in BISC, I am able to create opportunities for students to excel and make positive changes in the healthcare sphere and the world.

What is your favourite memory during your term at BISC?

My favorite part of my job was communicating with very ambitious and accomplished students, building a rapport and relationship with them, and ultimately being able to help them. If I am to name one specific memory though, I would say it’s when I received my new office space at DHCC and met my cubicle buddy Sean (Murphy, Administrative Coordinator) from Radiology!

Angela Li, BComm

Program: Bachelor of Commerce, specialized in Accounting

What were your main responsibilities and projects at BISC?  

During my time with BISC, I was responsible for our social media (Twitter and Facebook), updating the BISC's marketing and strategy plan, processing expense claim reimbursements, and recording BISC's financial expenditures (broken down by course and projects) for future documentation. I was also responsible for organizing the first two inaugural events on emergency surgery as part of bilateral Clinical Exchange Partnership Project with our partners Hospital Polanco in Mexico City, the Canadian Red Cross (CRC), and McGill Centre for Global Surgery.  I also did a few miscellaneous tasks, such as organizing the office, preparing course surveys and documents, and helping with website updates.

How has your experience at BISC contributed to your professional development?

I recall my time with BISC as a highlight of my university time, and I believe it served as a pivotal time in which I changed my career aspirations. I joined BISC in my 4th year as an accounting student with limited knowledge of 'other' potential career paths to me. I had not given much thought to careers outside of accounting.  During this time with BISC, I was able to explore working in a not for profit setting that gave me a sense of purpose different from other jobs I had previously. It also exposed me to different tasks that I had never tried before such as website design, event planning and also conducting consultations while working on the marketing and strategy plans.

What are you doing now and what are your future career aspirations?

I graduated from UBC in 2019, and I just finished a post-graduate certificate from UT Austin in Data Science and Business Analytics. I am currently also completing my PMP Certified Associate in Project Management certificate, as well as taking a few coding and language courses.

In the future, I hope to use my financial, data analytics/ computer science background to work with non-profit, or health care sectors, as either a project manager or consultant. My wish is to use this skill set to work in an organization or industry sector that will also be of help to others in the local and global community.

What is your favourite memory during your term at BISC?

One of my favourite memories was the feeling of accomplishment after the conclusion of our second event with the Canadian Red Cross and McGill Centre for Global Surgery. I remember the event was at around 6 AM, and I was very nervous that no one would show up, but I was so happy to see a filled room that day. It gave me a sense of happiness as the event received positive feedback.

Kaitlin Luong, BComm

Program: Bachelor of Commerce Marketing

What were your main responsibilities and projects at BISC?  

As a project assistant, I supported the development of appropriate promotional materials such as newsletters, pamphlets, brochures, and posters using the Adobe Creative Suite. I also acted as a point of contact for students, faculty, staff, and community members for various programs and projects. On the other hand, I maintained the BISC WordPress website by updating its homepage banners, newsletters, and copy-edited content. In addition to these tasks, I also managed BISC’s social media channels including Twitter and Facebook by creating posts on a weekly basis and utilizing Hootsuite for automatic post scheduling.

How has your experience at BISC contributed to your professional development?

My experience at BISC was a stepping stone for me to kickstart my skills in social media management, promotional design as well as website development. More specifically, I was able to delve deeper into learning Adobe InDesign to create marketing collaterals and designing websites via WordPress as the content management system. I also got the opportunity to work in a collaborative team with other Work Learn students at the time and excelled as a team player who can now comfortably work independently as well as in a team setting.

What are you doing now and what are your future career aspirations?

I am currently a full-time marketing coordinator at Cypress Solutions - an organization that provides wireless GPS fleet tracking solutions. My tasks include creating websites, promotional assets, handling the CRM as well as social media management. I am still early and young in my career, however in the future, I hope to be well-rounded in various aspects of marketing and become a full-stack marketer in a managerial position!

What is your favourite memory during your term at BISC?

My favorite memory during my term at BISC is the wonderful collaborative team environment that I was a part of. I was grateful for all the projects that I had the chance to work on and seeing the friendly faces all around VGH was what motivated me to do well in my role!

Rachel Ma, BSc

Program: BSc Food, Nutrition and Health, Minor in Psychology

What were your main responsibilities and projects at BISC?

As the position title suggests, my core responsibilities at BISC were marketing and communications. Examples of my daily tasks included creating our quarterly e-newsletter, updating the BISC website, planning content, engaging on social media platforms and designing visual assets.

One of my first projects at BISC was redesigning our website to streamline the user navigation and align with UBC’s Look and Feel with an enhanced, modernized theme. We also began to explore the creation of content to increase community engagement, including starting a faculty and student spotlight series, where we interview faculty members and students about their path to global surgery, as well as an instructor appreciation program, where we recognize the significant contributions of our stellar instructors each term.

Another main task was updating our old assets. Consolidating old program flyers, we released new program catalogues for the Master and Graduate Certificate programs, which have been circulated to partners and collaborators as part of our marketing outreach.

Lastly, another priority area of my role was improving our online presence by consistently updating our various social media platforms. Over the last year, we effectively strategized our social media content and saw a steady growth through our analytics.

PS- Check out our new Instagram @IntSurgicalCare!

How has your experience at BISC contributed to your professional development?

My experience at BISC contributed significantly to my professional development and allowed me to build both soft and technical skills. I am grateful to have been part of a supportive team and was able to see my creative ideas come to fruition. I also appreciated the opportunity to familiarize myself with various communication tools, including Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, Canva and WordPress. Furthermore, I was able to grow in areas of project management, visual communication and social media marketing.

What are you doing now and what are your future career aspirations?

I recently graduated from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems (LFS) – a small but tight-knit community that is driven to find solutions for current and global issues in areas of health and sustainable food systems. Along with my academics and work at BISC during my final year of undergrad, I was also a Teaching Assistant in my faculty, Communications Co-Lead at the LFS Academic and Career Engagement Team and a Health Promotion Volunteer at the Canadian Cancer Society.

I aspire to pursue a career in health promotion and have particular interests in student health, knowledge translation and chronic illness prevention and management. Following graduation, I look forward to taking the next steps of my career by pursuing a Master of Public Health in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences at the University of Toronto.

What is your favourite memory during your term at BISC?

Due to the COVID-19 circumstances, my role was fully remote from the very beginning, so the bulk of my hours were spent independently in my home office. In fact, I only visited our office twice – the first time to pick up a work laptop and second time to drop it off! With that said, my favourite memory during the term is definitely our weekly team meetings, where I got to (virtually) interact with Dr. Brian Westerberg, Dr. Emilie Joos and Cecilia. I am truly humbled and inspired by everyone at BISC and it was a real pleasure getting to know them through this role.

Rachel Kim, BComm

Program: Bachelor of Commerce in Business / Marketing

What were your main responsibilities and projects at BISC?

As a marketing and communications assistant, I mainly worked on the Strategic Plan 2022-2027 draft that was sent to BISC’s advisory committee with Dr. Emilie Joos and Cecilia, e-newsletters, and created social media content on all BISC platforms using Adobe and Figma with a focus on highlighting the multiple online courses that BISC offers. I’ve also worked on the website by developing the Reading Recommendations page, updating the demographics and admissions graphics, creating posts for new Publication Features, and analyzing the websites monthly analytics. I as well as did other housekeeping tasks such as recording social media permission emails, documented monthly social media analytics, and prepared visuals for the next program intake (check out BISC’s programs here!).

How has your experience at BISC contributed to your professional development?

My time at BISC has taught me valuable skills ranging in both technical and soft skills. I’ve learned to develop my technical abilities through platforms like Adobe Creative Suite, Hootsuite, Google Analytics, Creator Studio, and the content management system in ways that I wasn’t familiar to prior to the position. Presenting monthly social media and website analytics to an inspirational and hard-working team has provided me the opportunity to excel in active communication and work independently.

What are you doing now and what are your future career aspirations?

I’m currently in the middle of completing my education from UBC Sauder School of Business and am scheduled to study abroad at the National University of Singapore. My full-time career journey has yet to begin; however, in the future I aspire to be well-balanced in all areas of marketing with a focus on research and analysis. With a work-in-progress mindset, I like to advise myself that there’s no end to learning and strive to continue with this reminder in the future.

What is your favourite memory during your term at BISC?

As my position was fully online due to COVID-19, I didn’t have the chance to physically work at the actual office. However, my favorite memory during my work term was definitely the weekly team meetings where I was able to communicate with Cecilia, Dr. Brian Westerberg and Dr. Emilie Joos who have been truly welcoming since the beginning and have helped guided me smoothly into the team. I am thankful for being able to work with a highly motivated and inspirational team!