Katrina Koehn

BSc in Health Sciences

Katrina Koehn’s curiosity allowed her to pursue a plethora of learning experiences outside of the classroom and prepared her for a job with the Northern Health Authority.

FHS alumnus and 2019 Dean’s Medalist Katrina Koehn has always been interested in what health sciences had to offer her. Her curiosity for learning was piqued by the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Population and Quantitative Health Sciences (PQHS) stream which allowed her to experience a balance of social, environmental, and behavioural sciences. FHS also gave her the chance to expand her SFU learning experience outside of her coursework.

“Something I appreciated about my FHS experience was how I could tailor it to my curiosities,” she says. “I was able to do Co-op, a field course in South Africa, two directed studies, the Semester in Dialogue program, and an honours thesis, all within a four-year timeframe. These self-directed and experiential learning opportunities outside of the typical classroom setting kept me motivated and excited about what I was learning in the classroom.”

For Koehn, the balance of the problem-solving aspects of the basic sciences and writing aspects of the social sciences taught in the PQHS stream are what she loved the most.

“One of the most valuable things I took away from the PQHS program was an understanding of statistics and how to weigh and critique different forms of scientific evidence,” she recalls.

Applying the knowledge she acquired from her studies, her strong foundation of statistics allowed her to understand and engage with decision-makers and community members on complex health challenges in her work. At the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE), she had the opportunity to design statistical models using administrative healthcare data as a research assistant.

“In my current role as a Health and Resource Development Technical Advisor for the Northern Health Authority, I help to coordinate the health authority’s responses to newly proposed resource development projects,” she explains. “Working alongside the provincial Environmental Assessment Office, our team highlights various health and social concerns that may be pertinent to the BC government’s decision about whether a new project gets approved.”

For those looking to make the most out of their learning, Koehn advises that students lay a strong foundation for success by finding a sense of belonging and connecting with others.

“The most rewarding aspect of my FHS experience was both the personal and professional relationships that I built,” she emphasizes. “I feel very lucky to have worked alongside my thesis supervisors Drs. Salters and Hogg, who I felt like cared about me beyond who I was as a student or as a research trainee, but also who I was as a human in a wider society.”