Learning Through Experience
Sharing our successes with experiential learning at UNB

Student researchers find potential healthcare savings

Author: Lee Whelan

Posted on Dec 2, 2021

Category: Student Champions

Experiential education not only provides students with the professional and soft skills necessary for succeeding in todays’ workplaces, but also gives students a meaningful connection to the communities they live. This connection is essential for a province like New Brunswick to retain graduates who can use their professional experience and fresh ideas for the future of our province.  

This is why the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) developed Pathways to Professions, or P2P. Funded by FutureNB, Planet Hatch, and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, P2P is a summer experiential learning program that provides valuable research and professional skills to students. In addition to participating in workshops and seminars on topics such as leadership and networking, students were grouped into five teams to research important issues to New Brunswick.

One of these research projects led by Dr. Chris Folkins, VitalSigns, was particularly relevant to the challenges New Brunswick has been facing in healthcare that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Through researching the costs and benefits of publicly funding pharmacist-administered tetanus and pneumonia vaccines, students discovered that by increasing funding for those vaccines the province could save $1.5 million a year and would take almost 3,000 people from waiting list for a family doctor.  

For students who worked on this project, the opportunity for their research to have real impact on provincial healthcare in the province was especially meaningful. 

“Having the opportunity to question current NB pharmacy vaccination policy through data driven research amidst the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out in New Brunswick was a great opportunity for growing the P2P program within NB-IRDT, and it led to some important findings that can be built upon in years to come,” said Clarke Brewster, student and VitalSigns researcher.

For VitalSigns researcher and graduate student Adrienne Gulliver, it was the opportunity to network and gain professional skills in addition to the research that made the program a valuable experience.

“Working on the VitalSignsNB team has been a highlight of my academic career. Not only did I have the chance to learn from many inspiring academics, researchers, and professionals in the community throughout my time with Pathways to Professions, I gained so much knowledge and insight from my teammates,” Gulliver said. 

“For me, having the opportunity to work in a leadership role was very rewarding and meaningful, and challenged me in all the right ways. I know I will use the skills I acquired from P2P as I continue through graduate school and into the professional workforce.”

At the end of the summer, students presented data-driven information to government stakeholders to directly influence provincial public policy. Want to apply for this summer's Pathways to Professions program at the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training? Check out 2021’s Program in Review and apply for summer 2022.

For more information on the P2P program, contact NB-IRDT at nb-irdttraining@unb.ca or the Office of Experiential Education at experiential@unb.ca.