Aug. 11, 2023

UCalgary team reaches global finals of Map the System competition for the first time

Audience at University of Oxford impressed by students’ project addressing physician shortage in Canada
Left to right: Kurt White, Winston Cheung, Tina Wong (pictured), Brandon Pentz, and Hannah Hemphill
From left: Kurt White, Winston Cheung, Tina Wong (pictured in smartphone), Brandon Pentz and Hannah Hemphill. University of Oxford

A team of passionate students from the University of Calgary has earned international recognition by participating in the Map the System Global Finals held at the University of Oxford. The competition, organized by Map the System Canada (MTS), aimed to address complex societal challenges and foster innovative solutions that create a positive impact on communities around the world.

This year’s finals saw 60 teams from across 27 countries, including UCalgary's Assemble Health. The team took centre stage with their project titled, "Family Physician Shortage: A Canadian Healthcare Crisis." Their commitment and research on this critical issue within the Canadian health-care system garnered widespread acclaim, earning praise from both the judges and fellow participants.

Despite the team's remarkable efforts and well-deserved recognition, Assemble Health did not secure the top prize at the competition; however, they were still the first UCalgary team to reach the MTS finals. Making it that far also allowed them to apply for an MTS Apprenticing with a Problem Grant for up to $10,000 in additional funding to further their research.

Map the System is an annual global competition that encourages students from universities worldwide to deeply explore social and environmental issues and understand the underlying systemic factors affecting them. The process emphasizes comprehensive research, stakeholder engagement, and the development of practical and sustainable solutions.

"We were able to breakdown the problem into more manageable chunks, and I think that helped us understand the problem, rather than be overwhelmed by it,” says Winston Cheung, a member of Assemble Health.   

Another team member, Tina Wong, says participating in MTS will help her career. "It just trains us to have a better thinking approach,” Wong says.

The Assemble Health team of Cheung, Wong and Brandon Pentz, MSc'21, brought together a dynamic group of passionate individuals with diverse expertise — a health researcher, a family medicine resident and a postgraduate Doctor of Pharmacy student. Together, they embarked on an in-depth research journey to uncover the root causes of a major Canadian health-care crisis: family physician shortages.

Their investigation revealed critical factors, including limited funding for family medicine residency positions; a lack of interest among medical students in pursuing family medicine as a specialty; and the burden of high administrative duties. Moreover, by meticulously examining existing local, provincial and national initiatives, they identified crucial gaps and potential solutions aimed at addressing this widespread issue.

Among those who accompanied the team were Kurt White, program lead for MTS at UCalgary, along with coach Hannah Hemphill.

Congratulations to Brandon Pentz, Winston Cheung, and Tina Wong. Their participation in Map the System Global Finals exemplifies UCalgary's commitment to nurturing future leaders who strive to create positive impacts on society.

For more information about the Map the System competition, visit the MTS Canada website.  


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