IHPME doctoral student awarded the Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award

April 26, 2024

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One of U of T’s Awards of Excellence recipients, doctoral student Natasha (Yasmin) Sheikhan, is recognized for her academic achievements and work in advocating for patients’ rights in both research and community settings.

By Elaine Smith 

“My health-care journey began as a patient in a system where I felt lost and powerless, a system that ignores too many patients in their own care,” says third-year doctoral Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME) student Natasha (Yasmin) Sheikhan. “I am trying to improve this. My experience as a patient drives my passion and my PhD has provided the platform to improve patient partnership.”  

Sheikhan, a trainee at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, is the 2024 recipient of the Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award.  

The $25,000 award, named after a former U of T professor, vice-president and provost who significantly enhanced the graduate student experience, is given annually to a doctoral student who demonstrates outstanding academic and extracurricular leadership. 

IHPME doctoral student, Natasha (Yasmin) Sheikhan, the 2024 Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award recipient.

Sheikhan’s focus has been on creating a reporting guideline for patient and family engagement in mental health research. She is currently collecting data and interviewing patients, families and researchers to understand their experience with reporting on engagement activities and how it can be improved. 

During her doctoral studies, Sheikhan has served as vice-president of the IHPME Graduate Student Union and sits on several committees to represent the student voice. Throughout her doctoral journey, she is grateful for the support of her supervisors, IHPME Prof. Kerry Kuluski and Temerty Psychiatry Prof. Lisa Hawke. In the community, she is vice chair of the Mid-West Toronto Ontario Health Team (MWT-OHT) and a patient partner on their Executive Advisory Committee.

“My goal at the MWT-OHT is to democratize the leadership and amplify the patient voice, moving away from the status quo that distances patients and caregivers from the process,” she says. “Helping to actualize a patient chair for our MWT- OHT has fulfilled a goal to seeing patients working at the highest level.” 

“My PhD research intersects with my community work. I am able to explore both sides of the engagement space.” 

Sheikhan was excited to hear that she’d won the Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award; she had simply hoped to be chosen as one of the finalists. 

“The financial prize will give me some flexibility in finishing my PhD as my Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funding ends,” she says. “It gives me wiggle room in case the data collection takes longer than I’d hoped.” 

Looking beyond her PhD, Sheikhan says, “I want to be in a place where I can advocate for system change and do research – something that incorporates all of my learnings and experiences and allows me to advocate for the best way forward.” 

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Marielle Boutin
Email Address: ihpme.communications@​utoronto.ca

Manages all IHPME-wide communications and marketing initiatives, including events and announcements.