Job Title: Associate Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta
When Stephanie Montesanti began her career in public health, her focus was on global health systems, spending time working in Cambodia and Ethiopia. When her mother, back home in Canada, was diagnosed with cancer, everything changed.
“I wanted to be close to her, so I came back home. She ended up being in and out of the health system for 13 years, and that experience really changed my perspective,” she says. “It helped to get me interested in how the health system does or does not meet the needs of patients and their families.”
As she supported her mother, Montesanti gained insight into the experience of patients and families, as well as the opportunities that existed for health-care providers. It changed the way that she looked at public-health systems and helped her to bring a patient-focused perspective to her research.
Today, Montesanti focuses on tackling complex topics such as mental health, domestic violence and Indigenous health issues. She connects policy makers and healthcare providers with the patients, families and communities experiencing the health-care system, driving for a more empathetic and compassionate service model.
“In all of my work, I try to incorporate the lived experiences of patients. They may have experienced domestic violence or maybe they’re part of a vulnerable population,” she says. “My work centres on making sure that citizens’ values — what people need and want from providers and policymakers — are reflected in the future of healthcare.”