Having the chance to attend the 2015 Global Health and Innovation Conference was one of the most valuable opportunities I have had in the past four years to supplement my coursework with an extra-curricular activity that could truly contribute to and shape my future career endeavours. Characterizing this experience as a supplement to coursework was deliberate, as this conference offers two things that are currently not explored in depth in the School of Health Studies; global health studies and social innovation. Much of the course content at Western is contextualized within the municipal, provincial, or national environment, which is a critical foundation from which to teach health-related concepts; however, health-related issues in developing countries are also an essential obstacle that must be traversed in the battle against communicable and noncommunicable diseases in a global context. This conference provided attendees with the opportunity to delve deeply into global health, which provided an opportunity to compare and contrast the health issues faced in developing countries and the methods proposed to address these problems. Social innovation or entrepreneurship, a process of applying business principles to organizations for the purposes of improving social outcomes, is being conceptualized more and more as a legitimate solution to health problems both nationally and abroad. As these principals are often grounded in business theories, health studies students are not often exposed to these topics. As was the case for global health, this conference provided an opportunity for health studies students to learn more about the process of social innovation as a strategy for improving health outcomes.
Most of the sessions I attended at the conference were focused on social innovations as solutions to global health problems. As such, I was very focused on learning more about the two areas I believe most effectively supplemented my current health studies coursework. This experience dramatically contributed to my career aspirations, and I know consider both social entrepreneurship and global health to be potential careers paths. My ultimate goal is to improve health outcomes on the population level, and I now more fully appreciate the health challenges faced by the populations in developing countries, and the prospect of social innovations as a means to achieving my goals.