Student Feature


Q & A with MSc- Occupational Science student Brittany Bhatnagar 

Choosing to pursue a research-based graduate program was serendipitous for recent MScOS graduate Brittany Bhatnagar.

During her undergraduate degree, Brittany completed an honours project under the supervision of Dr. Karen Gallant (School of HAHP) –  Brittany credits Dr. Gallant for her clear guidance and wisdom throughout my project, as an influential factor in her acquired love with the research process. Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic when Brittany was completing her honours thesis, it did provide her with the opportunity to dabble in a few different forms of research which led her to understanding the diverse way of pursing research.

The MSCOS degree provided her with the perfect opportunity to diversify her background and broaden her understanding of the everyday doing of people.

I had the opportunity catch up with Brittany and ask her a few questions about her experience in Dal’s MScOS program.
What inspired you to pursue a MScOS degree?
My background is in Therapeutic Recreation (TR), and once deciding I wanted to pursue graduate studies, it really led me to deciding between the Leisure Studies degree or the MScOS degree. One of the highlights of my undergraduate degree was the opportunity to work collaboratively with other disciplines. Therefore, I landed on pursuing the MScOS degree as I think that it provides the perfect chance for me to diversify my background and broaden my understanding of the everyday doing of people.
Why would you suggest someone study in this Occupational Science program?
My experience in the Occupational Science (OS) program has been quite positive. So far, the coursework within the OS program has provided a very clear and strong foundation for understanding occupation, especially as it relates to the everyday doing of people and how occupations can contribute to one’s wellbeing. I would suggest that folks seriously consider the OS program as it provides a great foundation for broadening our perspective of understanding the world around us. I also believe that the OS program provides a great opportunity to work collaboratively with others and make great impact to our communities through research.
What would you share with someone who is considering enrolling in the MScOS program?
Again, I think that this program is a phenomenal way to broaden one’s perspective on the experiences of others. The idea of occupation is very much prevalent in all our lives, and I think that by understanding this can help us to better support our communities prospectively. Because of this, I think that it is important to come into the MScOS program with an open mind and willingness to be uncomfortable sometimes – I think that this is how we grow and learn!

What contributes to enriching experiences in a fully online program?
I think that our current cohort of students have been amazing and have enhanced my experience in this program so far. I think that we have had so many great opportunities to engage in rich conversation about many different topics and work together on projects! Being a part of a program that is entirely online requires discipline and support. I think that the faculty and peers have been great in fostering an encouraging and excitable environment that allows for the right amount of motivation. Although working entirely online can be an adjustment, I think that we have done a good job in staying connected and reaching out when it comes to discussing topics that may happen more organically through a more traditional program style (i.e., in-person).

Tell us a little bit about what you are studying (thesis) and how you see it benefitting the larger community?
The aim of my thesis is to understand the experiences of occupational balance among graduate students who are enrolled in a thesis-based graduate studies program. I am really interested in understanding how others navigate the process of graduate studies and how they (if they) pursue balance. Occupational balance can contribute to positive wellbeing, especially mental wellbeing. I think that, generally speaking, it can be really challenging to navigate all the responsibilities of life – especially as a graduate student. I also think it is important to pay attention to the alarming dropout rate of graduate students; therefore, I think that this research is timely and beneficial to our broader academic community. Hopefully, it will shine light on the experiences of graduate students, and possibly help to better understand the mental health experiences of students.

How did you connect with your MScOS thesis supervisor? Describe what type of support or supervision has been beneficial to you so far?
I am really happy to be working with two supervisors, Drs. Heidi Lauckner and Karen Gallant. Dr. Gallant connected me to Dr. Lauckner, and fortunately Dr. Lauckner and I had met briefly prior to my interest in the MScOS program through another research project. I think that it has been a strong transition to working with Drs. Gallant and Lauckner as we had all worked with each other in some capacity prior to pursuing this project. I am very grateful for my supervisors as I think that they provide a strong interdisciplinary background which compliments my research interests. So far, they have been great support to me by providing considerable guidance in honing in on my research interests – this has been done by regular contact either via email or meeting formally.
Did you receive any funding for your MScOS Master program? If so what type of funding and how were you able to secure it?
Happily, I have received funding for my studies in the MScOS program. So far, I have received funding for two years from Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship (NSGS), as well as an internal scholarship from the School of Occupational Therapy.
How does your involvement in this program contribute to how you envision the next steps in your life/career?

I think that my involvement in this program will contribute greatly to my future endeavours. Although I am not entirely solidified on next steps for me, I know that I possibly want to continue my studies in academia. Because of my background in Leisure Studies, paired with my current learnings through the Occupational Science program I think this will develop a strong foundation for future steps. I look forward to learning more and engaging deeper with the research process.