Students, Faculty Collaborate on Health Research Project

February 19, 2018
Georgia Betkus, Dr. Shannon Freeman and Kevin Adam
Interdisciplinary Studies graduate student Georgia Betkus, Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Shannon Freeman and Bachelor of Health Sciences student Kevin Adam collaborated on a book chapter tracing the history of telehealth.

At the University of Northern British Columbia, students get the opportunity to conduct research and have their work published at early stages of their studies.

Take Georgia Betkus and Kevin Adam, who collaborated with UNBC Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Shannon Freeman and University of Queensland researcher Dr. Melinda Martin-Khan to write The Evolution of Telehealth, a chapter in a new book Freeman co-edited on Mobile eHealth.

“It was really great to be a part of a project like this,” says Betkus, who began working on the project as an undergraduate student. “It solidified my interest in telehealth, and I decided to return to UNBC for a Master’s of Interdisciplinary studies so I could explore telehealth further.”

Betkus is from McBride, B.C., and said working with Freeman on the past, present and future of telehealth struck a chord.

“As someone who grew up in a rural community, I think telehealth is a valuable tool that could increase access to health care for residents of rural communities,” she says.

The researchers examined how technology has influenced health-care delivery, beginning with when it was exclusively delivered face-to-face, to the advent of the telegraph, telephone, video conferencing and mobile phone technology.

“It is exciting to mentor and inspire UNBC undergraduate students by engaging them in research activities early in their academic studies,” Freeman says. “This allows opportunity for students to apply their learnings outside of the UNBC classroom environment and learn first-hand how the process of research works from the start where the idea is first conceptualized through to the publication of the book chapter and knowledge dissemination of the project findings.”

Adam, from Sechelt, B.C., is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Health Sciences, and like Betkus already had an interest in telehealth when he began to work on the paper. He said his work on the project has inspired him to continue to publish.

“This experience helped convince me I wanted continue on to a Master’s program to further sharpen my research and critical analysis skills,” he says.

The book is a collection of multidisciplinary essays exploring the opportunities and challenges presented by mobile eHealth technology.