The application to MSc ehealth at McMaster requires 4 short essays. Each short essay is a response to a specific prompt. These prompts may vary from year to year, but they generally ask you about your motivations for ehealth, your preparations and experiences, and your goals.
From your perspective, it is your opportunity to show the admissions committee your drive and breadth and depth of knowledge and/or experience in ehealth before they meet you for the interview. Importantly, you want to write persuasively on why you are a great candidate and why they should admit you. After all, the point of writing these short essays is to convince the admissions committee to admit you to the program.
On this page, I’m here to help you dissect each question and provide you with a framework to answering each question.
The Short Essays Question 1
Briefly describe how your academic background in the contributing disciplines (Health Sciences, Engineering/Computer Science, Business/Management) influenced your decision to pursue, and strengthened your suitability for, a Masters degree in eHealth.
Before we dive into the question, let’s first understand a phrase that stands out from the question, “contributing disciplines.”
ehealth is a very broad field, encompassing any thing or activity that goes in to the use of information technology to support the delivery of care or to support wellbeing.
When you enter the ehealth field, you’re going to be joining interdisciplinary teams with colleagues trained in a variety of disciplines, including health sciences, engineering/computer science, and business/management.
Let’s illustrate an ehealth team with an example.
Let’s say, you joined an ehealth team trying to develop an electronic system to track and tally COVID tests in a hospital. On that team, you’ll find health practitioners, such as doctor, nurse, and/or medical lab technician, who are needed for their familiarity with healthcare processes and clinical workflows. They contribute by steering the development process so that the new electronic system will meet the needs of clinical care.
You’ll also find team member(s) trained in business, such as business analyst, who will assess the needs of clinical members, patients, and policy makers, to help identify and articulate the necessary features and functions of the new electronic system that can meet the needs of all stakeholders. They also contribute by liaising between clinicians and information technology folks by translating clinical language so that technology folks can understand and vice-versa.
For this ehealth team, member(s) trained in management, such as project manager, will contribute by helping to budget, keep track of cost, and ensure activities taken on by the ehealth team will meet necessary deadlines.
Finally, member(s) of this ehealth team who are versed in computer science and engineering are needed to build the new system. They also contribute by ensuring the new electronic system can integrate with existing health information systems.
You can see in this example of ehealth team, expertise in health sciences, business, management, engineering and computer science are all needed to help make the COVID tracking and tallying system possible in the hospital. Members trained in different disciplines arms them with expertise needed to take on different roles of the ehealth team, allowing them to contribute uniquely to the team’s goal.
Actual ehealth teams are often more complex than the example given, and will involve many more roles. Members of the team are also often trained in more than 1 discipline, allowing them to be flexible and wear multiple hats, or help liaise members of different disciplines. That said, the "contributing disciplines" referenced in the question are covered in the example.
Given the multidisciplinary nature of ehealth team, the MSc ehealth program is looking for candidates who will contribute to and excel in this interdisciplinary team dynamics.
What your answer should cover & Response template
In your response, I suggest you should cover the following:
- Introduce your understanding of the ehealth team and briefly write about how you understand the different disciplines contribute to the team.
- Your background
- After introducing the topic, describe to the admissions committee your own background.
- Think about:
- Which of the disciplines, health science, engineering/computer science, business/management do you associate most closely with? Do you have a background in more than 1 discipline?
- What do you see your role as in the multidisciplinary ehealth team?
- Give an example where you made a contribution in a multidisciplinary team – and where your team members relied on your expertise from your discipline (doesn’t have to be ehealth).
- Relate your background to ehealth
- After discussing your background, relate your background to ehealth and answer to the question: how your background influenced your decision to pursue a career in ehealth and how it strengthened your ability for the MSc ehealth program.
- Think about:
- From your past experience in a multidisciplinary team, how is that similar to an ehealth team?
- What was it like working in multidisciplinary teams? Why?
- How will you use your own background and training to contribute to solving healthcare challenges in an ehealth team?
- Provide a statement to conclude by discussing how your background makes you a better candidate for MSc ehealth.
The Short Essays Question 2
Briefly describe how your professional, volunteer, and/or personal experiences influenced your decision to pursue a Masters degree in eHealth.