OMSA Medical Student of the Month of February: Katherine Steckham

Katherine isn’t one to seek the spotlight, and as a result very few people are aware of the many improvements she has orchestrated this year in her various extracurricular roles.

First up, Katherine has spent an extraordinary amount of time in her role as Co-Director of the Interprofessional Seniors Outreach Program at the University of Toronto. The program matches groups of students from various healthcare faculties to a senior in the community whom they visit throughout the year.

Now it would be one thing to run the visits smoothly, but the status quo isn’t exactly Katherine’s mindset.

Katherine and her co-director decided to create a geriatric case study and an online discussion forum to augment the experiences gained through community visits. The case and online forum are a first for the program.

Implementation involved liaising with various groups to develop and post the online content, recruitment and education for faculty facilitators, and development of student guides. The forum went live in February and was recognized by Canada Health Infoway, who asked Katherine and her co-director to present their initiatives at a Peer Leader Symposium in early March.

Beyond the novel addition to the program, some numbers confirm Katherine’s amazing efforts. Program participation is up from 50 students last year to 68 this year, with a proportional increase in seniors benefitting as well. Physiotherapy was also added to the program, bringing the total number of health disciplines involved to nine.

Katherine has also played an integral role in developing a student wellness brand called SHINE (Student Health Initiatives and Education) as the Communication and Promotions Representative. Her talents are on point each week with a new, snazzy poster advertising another SHINE event. The program has recently built momentum through ongoing speaker events, wellness challenges, and interactive sessions.

The list goes on. Katherine is the Family Medicine Longitudinal Experience (FMLE) course representative. In addition to the expected course announcements and query fielding, Katherine decided she would summarize the entire student syllabus into a one-slide graphic. It may sound trivial, but it likely saved half the medical student class from reading 30+ pages each. And just for the record, she and the FMLE office don’t officially condone not reading the syllabus, and she actually plans to help rejuvenate the longer version before the end of the year too.

It’s clear that anything Katherine pursues professionally isn’t just completed to spec – it’s likely dramatically improved. She isn’t doing it for recognition; it’s just her internal drive to better whatever she’s invested in.

Recreationally Katherine is known for being passionate about horseback riding, and is also an avid runner. She recently ran her first half marathon, and did it in less than two hours. She plays intramural ultimate frisbee, volunteers with young adults with intellectual and/or physical disabilities as part of the eight-week Kindler Program at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, and is becoming a budding clinician-teacher through her involvement in the Students-as-Teachers elective.

If you see Katherine around, please congratulate her on a very deserving award.