School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Making sure research measures up – Meet Malcolm McNeill

MSc, Rehabilitation Science 

by Phil Gaudreau, April 2020

Amy Cleaver

There’s an old saying: “When you’re healthy, you have many dreams. When you’re sick, you just have one.”

Of course, your perspective on what constitutes ‘sick’ and ‘healthy’ can vary. While researchers and clinicians tend to focus on scientific measurements, a patient’s perspective may have more to do with their own comfort and performance.

“A researcher conducting clinical trials for new medications may only measure biomedical outcomes as measurements of success, such as increased pulmonary function,” Malcolm McNeill (Artsci’17, MSc’19) says. “Children and families, meanwhile, might think about outcomes such as how well the child can participate in age appropriate activities and how they are keeping up with their peers. By introducing and measuring outcomes beyond a biomedical scope, these populations may be equipped to make decisions based on results which are relevant to them.”

Increasingly, the medical community is trying to factor in that patient perspective. Malcolm, who just recently completed his Masters in Rehabilitation Science at Queen’s, concentrated his research on identifying how children with chronic health needs and their families have been engaged when determining what should be measured throughout research efforts.

After performing a systematic review, Malcolm began to elicit the preferences of children with chronic conditions and their families to begin to develop measurement tools focused on what is important to them. Stakeholder groups participated across various platforms, including at a symposium on complex care for children.

Malcolm originally came from the U.K to complete his undergraduate degree at Queen’s and continued right into his masters following graduation. As part of a military family, Malcolm has seen a lot of countries and yet he calls Canada his favourite (despite the cold). He’s currently working in the health technology sector in Toronto, though he fondly remembers his time in Kingston.

“I enjoyed walking downtown and I would always see familiar faces,” he says. “The waterfront is beautiful, the downtown is historic…it reminds me of home.”

He also met a wide array of people during his studies: from his clients while working as a support worker during his undergraduate degree, to his tight knit group of peers, to Ethiopian rehabilitation professionals who came to Queen’s as part of a MasterCard Foundation scholarship program.

“Rehab science brings together diverse groups of people, and I met so many brilliant people during my time at Queen’s,” he says. “Even when I first reached out to my supervisor, Dr. Nora Fayed, she was happy to have an enriching conversation and ensure there was a fit before I started my studies.”

Now that he is done his studies, Malcolm has some advice for others thinking about graduate school. He says, before you launch into it, make sure you love what you do – your project can be highly fulfilling, but it can also be a long journey.

“This degree gave me a lot of applicable skills, and it allowed me the opportunity to ensure voices of children are heard so research is focused in areas which matter to them,” he says. “It was tough, but now that it has all come together it feels highly rewarding.”

To learn more about the Masters in Rehabilitation Science program, visit the School of Rehabilitation Therapy’s website.