As part of our Spring Convocation 2024 coverage, we asked graduates from our six Schools to share their experiences of completing a degree in McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Here, we meet Class of 2024 member Joshua Mitchell from the School of Medicine. Joshua completed his PhD in Family Medicine & Primary Care  and received his degree at the Spring Convocation Ceremony on May 28. Congratulations Joshua!    


Name: Joshua Mitchell 

Degree: PhD, Family Medicine & Primary Care 

Hometown: Ottawa, ON 


What did you love most about studying at McGill and in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences?  

I loved the training in research methods received at the Department of Family Medicine. Learning was hands on, and often involved taking our thesis research and ‘repackaging’ it for different methodological orientations, e.g., adopting a participatory research approach. I also enjoyed engaging with my student colleagues, through the Family Medicine student society and during research conferences. Some great memories were made!  


What was your dissertation topic? 

I developed a questionnaire to assess participatory research partnerships aimed at primary health care transformation. The questionnaire can be used by primary health care stakeholders, e.g., patient partners, clinicians and managers, to assess and improve their engagement in research partnerships and to evaluate the impact of these partnerships on their learning.  


How will your research project have a positive impact on society? 

Research has shown numerous benefits of engaging in inquiry with primary health care stakeholders, such as improved learning among health professionals and benefits beyond the changes expected from the research, e.g., healthcare improvement in multiple units of a health organization. My questionnaire can be used to assess and improve stakeholder engagement in research partnerships and increase the benefits derived from such partnerships.  


If you could change one thing in the world to make it better, what would you choose? 

Empower and educate those who have traditionally been excluded from policy and program development about the value of their knowledge and expertise. It is more important than ever to develop evidence with stakeholders to manage ongoing global crises. We need to engage with communities, organizations and government to develop and implement data-based, practical solutions that are meaningful and relevant.  


Please share a particularly proud or challenging moment from your degree? 

In the first phase of my PhD, I developed a theory on participatory research partnerships. I learned how to read through dense theoretical text.  


A fave activity during your degree? 

Great memories doing karaoke on Cote-des-Neiges! 


A song that defines the past few years as a student at McGill? 

The Department of Family Medicine was like a family – staff, students and educators all got along very well. Remember singing We are family at an intramural soccer match once, so I would pick that song! 


Any shoutouts?  

My primary supervisor, Dr. Pierre Pluye, was one of the most instrumental figures in my life. He exemplified what it meant to be a fiercely determined, hardworking and collegial academic. It was a privilege to work with him. Rest in peace, dear Pierre.  


Top tip for incoming students in your program?  

  • Take one small step each day towards your goals, join a writing community and celebrate your successes along the way. These principles are embodied within a fantastic program offered by Graphos called ‘Three Months to Advance Your Thesis.’  
  • Be disciplined when reading. For a 3,000 to 4,000 word article, spend no more than one hour reading it and take the top two or three ideas that are relevant for your thesis research.  


Anything you’ll miss? 

The people – the Department of Family Medicine had very kind staff, professors and students. We had a lot of fun over the years!  


What’s next for you?  

I would like to work within intersectoral research partnerships. Looking forward to a career in which I get to work with stakeholders to bring about organizational and social practice innovation. 


LinkedIn: Joshua Mitchell, PhD (