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Researchers Under the Scope

Aug 1, 2021

One patient Shivani Tauh interviewed had to remove his ventilator tube to speak with her.

Another told her it felt 'disingenuous' when able-bodied health care providers looked at his spinal cord injury and assured him 'this will pass'.

Shivani Tauh kicks off our undergraduate summer research series in this episode, discussing her work on spinal cord injuries, and how they change a person's outlook, mobility and prognosis.

Tauh, who is now entering her fourth year of medical school, has gathered concrete policy suggestions for those whose work deals with medical assistance in dying (MAID).

Over two summers, Tauh interviewed both health care workers, and people who had suffered spinal cord injuries, to elicit their opinions and experiences, as Canada overhauls and modernizes its laws around end-of-life care. Tauh's research was done under the supervision of Dr. Lilian Thorpe and Dr. Darren Nickel.

Tauh said the field is fraught with ethical questions, and this research has changed the way she views end-of-life care.

In this episode, she describes in-person interviews with spinal cord injury patients as "eye-opening", pointing to one patient's account of feeling isolated and alone.

"He never felt like his health care providers, specifically his physicians, really understood what he was going through," said Tauh.

"It's difficult to have somebody that really has no true insight or understanding into what you're going through say, 'oh it'll be okay'.

Taugh said her summer work underscored the need to protect vulnerable people within the health care system while also preserving their autonomy.

"I would like to incorporate end-of-life care into my practice, regardless of what specialty I end up going into," said Tauh.  "This is an area of medicine I feel very passionate about."