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CV: Meet Dr. Csilla Kalocsai

January 29, 2021

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Bio basics:

Dr. Csilla Kalocsai is a cultural anthropologist and education scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute. She is also an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Toronto and a cross-appointed researcher at The Wilson Centre for Research in Education at UHN and the University of Toronto. She joined Sunnybrook as the ACMS professor in education research in April 2020. Learn more about Dr. Kalocsai and her research below.

What is your research focus?

My evolving program of research has two foci: I explore how social and critical theories can help us better understand patient involvement in medical and health professions education and research; and I also examine patient, public and health professions education in the era of the overdose crisis. In addition, I am interested in unpacking dominant concepts that guide and structure health professions education and clinical practice, such as ‘therapeutic alliance’ in critical care, ‘co-production’ in mental health and addiction, and most currently, ’treatment resistance’ in psychiatry.

How did you become interested in education research?

During my PhD at Yale, I looked at how transnational corporations and MBA programs changed the norms and practices of work in postsocialist Hungary, and created a new, youthful professional workforce. Education was one of the four ‘technologies’ that I explored to understand what brought about this particular change in norms, practices and identities in Hungary.

It was, however, four years after finishing my PhD, when I joined Dr. Andre Amaral’s study team at Sunnybrook in 2014 and explored families’ perspectives on building therapeutic alliance with critical care providers, that I became very interested in patient, family and health professions education. Based on our qualitative study findings, we developed a session on the significance of informal communication with families for residents and designed a website dedicated for family members in the ICU.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am writing two articles based on studies I conducted at CAMH Education. One of the articles is a critical literature review that aims to understand how power is addressed in the literature on patient involvement in mental health professional education. The other explores how transition-age youth, from various socio-cultural backgrounds in Ontario, learn about safety when they use recreational drugs in their everyday lives and what education they would like to see in the midst of the overdose crisis.

I am also starting a new study to understand the concept of treatment resistance in psychiatry and its impact on clinical practice and lived experience. My co-PI and I will be conducting a systematic review to follow the shifts in the definitions of treatment resistance in relation to depression and schizophrenia. We'll be pairing this work with qualitative research that examines the experiences of being diagnosed with treatment resistant forms of mental health distress.

What opportunities do you see for education research at Sunnybrook?

While Sunnybrook already has some fantastic education scientists and education researchers, I believe the opportunity lies in capacity building for education research and scholarship across the organization. In my first six months, I have already received multiple requests for mentorship and collaboration, and I encourage everyone to reach out if they have questions about education research.

I have also developed a workshop series that introduces clinician educators to medical and health professions education research. The overall goal of the series is to foster better appreciation for education sciences among clinicians, inspire scholarly activities among participants, and develop a local community with shared interests and mutual support across Sunnybrook. It is a five-session workshop series launching February 3, 2021.

How do you unwind after a long week at work?

I spend a lot of time outdoors and do quite a bit of hiking and camping with my family.