Schulich graduate student selected for the newly launched competitive CHMS Oral Health Component Externship at Statistics Canada

September 2022

Abby Hensel, an MSc student in Epidemiology working with Dr. Noha Gomaa and Kelly Anderson, PhD, has been selected for a full-time research externship with the Canadian Health Measure Survey (CHMS) Oral Health Component project for Fall 2022.

“This is an excellent experiential learning opportunity. Through this externship, Abby will further build on her epidemiological and analytical toolkit by participating in the calibration and validation of national oral health data collection measures,” Dr. Gomaa shared. “She will get to contribute to new knowledge on the current oral health status of Canadians and how it might have changed over the past decade since the last CHMS oral health module,” she added. 

Abby HenselOriginally from the Windsor area, Abby Hensel has been involved in research since her second year in undergraduate Behaviour, Cognition, and Neuroscience program at University of Windsor. Abby completed an MSc in Neuroscience and Behaviour there as well, developing and expanding her undergraduate thesis into a full master’s project. While Abby loved the research she was doing, she said that she wanted to expand her skills to impact the world around her. She decided to switch fields and now studies Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Western University with a focus on oral health and multimorbidity in Canada's aging population, for which she was awarded a CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS-M) this year.

At Dr. Gomaa’s suggestion, Abby applied for the externship and was thrilled to find out she had received one of the spots. “StatCan has always been on my list of places I would love to work at someday,” she told us, “so being chosen for this externship is absolutely a dream come true for me.”

As an aspiring epidemiologist, Abby said the experience will influence what she does after finishing her program. She described it as a “huge stepping stone” toward the goal of working with health data and trends and working on projects that help inform health policies and procedures. While most of the work is done virtually, Abby spent a week in Ottawa attending the dental calibration of all the dentists who will be collecting oral health data for the upcoming cycle 7 of the CHMS. Over the next four months Abby will help develop quality control protocols for the oral health component of the CHMS, write health reports and fact sheets, and assist in data processing and validation once data collection begins.

“I’m incredibly lucky to have gotten this role,” Abby said. “I can’t wait to see how the next few months go!”