Faces of U of T Medicine: Mhairi Kay

Nov 3, 2017
Mhairi KayMhairi Kay will be one of the graduates crossing the convocation stage on November 7th. Kay is graduating with a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. She talked to Faculty of Medicine writer Julia Soudat about her interests in mental health, wellness and recovery and what she’s looking forward to post-graduation.

What are your research interests and what sparked your interest in that field of study?

My research interests are mostly focused on mental health. I am interested in the benefits that can be accrued from participation in alternative, holistic, and harm-reduction focused approaches to wellness. I believe that one of the critical components of mental health recovery is helping people redefine their identity apart from their current struggle or diagnoses and facilitating participation in meaningful activity. My interest in this field was sparked through the work that I do for a non-profit organization in Toronto called Young Ones that provides free treatment and support to youth with mental health and addiction issues. I am currently the Vice-Chair of the Board, the Education Program Coordinator, and a Public Educator; I have worked closely with youth who are struggling with their mental health and I’m passionate about advocating for those in need. 

What have been some of the most rewarding moments at U of T?

The most rewarding part of my experience at U of T was finding myself in a field of study I was truly passionate about and working towards a career that was a fit for me. This certainty about my career choice was solidified by the amazing placement opportunities I participated in during the MScOT program. U of T provides its students with an extensive array of opportunities that can’t be matched by other programs - I’ll always be grateful for the knowledge I gained while working at phenomenal facilities. I had the pleasure of spending these two years with a fantastic group of people who I will be thrilled to work with in the future and know they will go on to become change-makers in the healthcare sector.  

Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your plans after graduation?

In five years, I would love to be working in a clinical position in Toronto. As passionate as I am about mental health, I have an equal love for paediatric care and haven’t yet decided which avenue I would most like to pursue – perhaps I will get to do both! After graduation, I intend on working with my research partner to publish our paper which was completed in June and I will be starting my newly obtained position providing OT services to adult clients in the community as a means of gaining valuable experience while I figure out what my next steps are.

Do you have any advice for incoming students?

I think the most valuable advice I could give to new and incoming students is to take advantage of all the learning opportunities you are presented with during your time at U of T. As I mentioned, U of T provides its students with opportunities that you will not find at other schools and now that I have graduated and am looking for work, I have realized just how valuable those experiences are in shaping your personal confidence as a clinician and with regards to how you are received by future colleagues and other healthcare professionals. So, while it may not seem relevant, desirable, or even feasible at the time – ask lots of questions, talk to the instructors, clinicians and guest presenters, make connections, join the school committees, and go to the optional workshops – it will make all the difference when it comes time to graduate and to start your own career.   


Faces of U of T Medicine introduces you to some of the interesting people studying in the Faculty of Medicine. From advising political leaders to providing care to Toronto’s most vulnerable populations, our students are making an impact on communities at home and around the world.

Do you have an interesting story to share? Contact us at medicine.communications@utoronto.ca.

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