A senior health executive’s career journey, with York Region Public Health’s Chief Nursing Officer and Logistics HR Chief of the Health Emergency Operations for COVID 19 response Julia Roitenberg

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Show Notes

In this episode, Sujani sits down with Julia Roitenberg who took on the role of Chief Nursing Officer at York Region Public Health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Julia talks about her journey from bedside nurse to having a doctorate in public health and much more.

 

You’ll Learn

  • Ways that York Region Public Health has integrated the social determinants of health
  • Ways that community prevention and promotion has been prioritized in Julia’s work
  • How Julia has integrated a health equity lens into program planning
  • What advice Julia has for new public health graduates
  • More about Julia’s experiences with the University of Toronto’s Global Executive MBA in Healthcare and Life Sciences 
  • About different types of MBA programs
  • More on the Canadian Health Executive Certification
  • Why Julia is looking forward to pursuing a Doctorate in Public Health at University of Toronto 
 

Today’s Guest

Julia Roitenberg

Julia Roitenberg is currently Chief of Logistics HR in the Health Emergency Operations Centre and the Chief Nursing Officer for York Region Public Health. She has more than 20 years of nursing leadership experience in a variety of health settings including acute care, community and public health. In Julia’s past role as the Director of Child and Family Health and Chief Nursing Officer at York Region Public Health she was responsible for the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program, reproductive health, parenting, breastfeeding and dental services in York Region.

Julia completed her Master of Nursing degree from the University of Toronto, a master’s certificate in Municipal Management from York University, Schulich School of Business and her Global Executive MBA in Healthcare and Life Sciences at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

Resources

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Episode Transcript

Julia 0:00
My approach to directorship and management I do actually go to the community. I really pride myself in being being in touch with the community that way. And I love it, right? And it’s one important component of the role because I really feel like I need to understand what’s happening and how we can make things better.

Sujani 0:24
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly right here. And I’ll be here too, your host Sujani Siva from PH SPOT.

Hey, everyone, thank you for joining me today on another episode of PH SPOTlight, a space for you and me and everyone else in public health to share our stories and inspire each other. My name is Sujani Siva, the host of PH SPOTlight, and I’m here to help you build your public health career.

On today’s episode, I am so excited to share this conversation I had with an individual whose work I had come across at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic. And given how busy the public health workforce was at the start of the pandemic response, we were only able to sit down together in the early part of 2021. And so I’m honored to introduce you to Julia Roitenberg, who is the Chief Nursing Officer at York Region public health and this is a health unit that I currently live in. And since the pandemic she has also taken on the role of chief logistics HR for the health emergency operations for COVID-19 response. And on today’s episode, we chat about Julia’s career journey from a bedside nurse to her entry into public health, how the field has changed since she started off in the area more than two decades ago, and how she thinks the field will change as a result of the pandemic. We also speak about her academic journey, including her various degrees such as her MBA and her doctor of public health degree that she’ll be pursuing very soon, in addition to the numerous certifications she has pursued in leadership, and finally, she also provides tips for new grads. It’s a jam packed episode with so much value that there’s something for everyone to take away. So without further ado, here’s our conversation.

Hi, Julia, thank you so much for joining the PH SPOT podcast.

Julia 2:32
Hi, Sujani. Thank you so much for the opportunity. And I was really looking forward to it.

Sujani 2:38
Oh, it’s exciting. And as I was telling you, before we started, it’s such an honor to be able to speak to you like this and to meet you. I discovered you and the work that you’re doing at York Region public health and just generally in public health through LinkedIn. So you know, another- another reason social media has been great, at least for me. So I’m really just really happy that we get to chat. And I’m thrilled that the PH SPOT community is going to hear about the long and really valuable career that you’ve built in public health.

Julia 3:12
Thank you so much.

Sujani 3:13
Yeah, so I thought we could just, you know, jump right in, and for our listeners to kind of understand what pushed you into public health because you started off your career as a nurse, right? And now you’re at your region, public health, and we’ll get into some of the current work that you’re doing. But really, how did you kind of decide that you want to go into nursing.

Julia 3:38
So I decided that I want to go into nursing in general, to really provide that care and make a difference in people’s lives. And I felt like and I still do, feel like nursing, whether it’s bedside, in the hospital or in the community or anywhere else really can touch people, make a difference in their lives. And not just them. Everybody that is around them, their family, their friends. And that was the I guess the main point of me getting into nursing now talking about public health. What led me to public health is pure curiosity. As a nurse, as a nursing student, and then as a nurse at the beginning part of my career, I was really focusing on the hospital. Right? So I am a pediatric nurse. In my training, I worked as a pediatric nurse in Israel. And then when I came to Canada, I work at Sick Kids- Kids for a short period of time as well. And so taking care of people, kids and their families in the hospital really is a very profound experience. But then I was wondering, so what happens to them?

Sujani 4:50
Yeah.

Julia 4:50
They go home and how do they cope with the consequences of that episodical illness and that kind of moved me to community nursing in my career for some time. And then- and then that curiosity, what if we could actually prevent it? And that was like the main point that attracted me into public health, the prevention, health promotion, and really making a bigger difference at that population level.

Sujani 5:19
So when at what point, I guess, were you able to make that jump from clinical to community? Did it take some time to transition over? Or did you kind of just apply to a job and was able to make that shift?

Julia 5:35
Well, I was really, really lucky. Because at that time, when I jumped from clinical bedside nursing to community nursing, and then to public health, it was in 2001. And at that time, there were- there were quite a few public health nursing positions available for- to apply for permanent as well as temporary positions. And so I just took a chance I applied for public health nurse position. And that first position on public health was really a Home Visiting Nurse within the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program, which was a really good link to my expertise in pediatric nursing, like the child health component. And I was really lucky to get the way in into public health that way.

Sujani 6:20
Okay. And so I guess it’s sort of just gradually built on the skills that you had already acquired at SickKids, moving into kind of the community practice. And you know, you said you kind of transitioned over in 2001. And several years later, how do you find that public health has changed since you started in the field?

Julia 6:41
So many, many changes since 2001? Like so we did have SARS, went through H1&1 and now we’re in that the middle of COVID, 19 pandemic, right? And so from that perspective, definitely, things changed in public health. As far as looking and focusing on that community prevention and promotion through the lens of the social determinants of health. I feel like that is one of the turning, like expansion of that turning point of really like looking at both sides of public health, like that broad population health component, as well as really focusing on that at risk or high risk populations and taking the health equity and the social determinants of health lens into our program planning and service delivery.

Sujani 7:39
Would you say kind of look, I guess, same question, but thinking about the career path or career journeys that people in public health were taking back in 2000, early 2000 versus now, do you feel like things have also changed? I mean, evidently, there are a lot more public health graduate programs. You know, that’s one one way we can kind of measure that there’s been an expansion in public health. But are you seeing other ways that the career trajectory of professionals are changing at all?

Julia 8:10
Yes, so really good question from a career trajectory perspective and the professionals that are working in public health. So over the years, what I have observed and really brought forward as well initiated adding additional professional store workforce. So for example, traditionally, we used to have nursing, public health, nursing inspectors, dieticians, dental hygienist and epidemiologists, medical doctors, obviously, our medical officer of health and associates. So in addition to that, over the years since 2001, we’ve added professionals like, for example, more focused on CQI like the quality improvement data analysts. We’ve added additional individuals like even social workers, right? Like really focusing on that social determinants of health with the head that a couple of social workers store workforce to really support the high risk population clients and bring that perspective. So definitely, definitely expanded.

Sujani 9:12
Okay. Yeah, that’s a- that’s good history to know. And I guess the other question that keeps coming up when I do podcast episodes, is this idea of how do we think public health or the career in the workforce going to change as a result of COVID-19? You know, that you- We both are in Ontario, and I think prior to COVID-19, we were seeing cuts in public health. And then now I’m kind of curious to know or to see how things are going to change as a result of COVID-19. Do you have any predictions going forward?

Julia 9:44
Yeah, so I think we did have that provincial kind of initiative looking at the modernization of public health, right, and it was launched in 2019. And I think along the same line, with the provincial direction, what I’m seeing is way more integration of public health in other sectors. And we have been working with healthcare sector before and also with the other sectors like social services, for example. Right? And and I think COVID highlighted to us is that that stronger connection is, is there and is important.

Sujani 10:25
Yeah, I think a lot of new grads and students are often just fearful that there may not be opportunities when they graduate. And so that’s where the question was kind of coming from. And I think people can see right now within the context of COVID, that there are many, many opportunities in public health. And I am always wondering whether that funding and that availability of jobs is going to continue kind of into the future as well, yeah.

Julia 10:56
Yeah, I guess from my perspective, this pandemic definitely highlighted the need, and the role, the important-

Sujani 11:02
Absolutely.

Julia 11:03
-role of public health. And so currently, in my role as the chief of HR logistics, that has been my focus, right?

Sujani 11:10
Yeah.

Julia 11:10
Bringing people on board. And so from the beginning of pandemic, we redeployed, hired, on boarded hundreds of people, right, and the need is still there at the moment, like looking forward, I definitely think that public health will continue to have pivotal roles. So from that career or jobs availability, I would say, I don’t think it’s going like we’re going to be going away in-

Sujani 11:35
Yeah.

Julia 11:36
-in the near future, to be honest.

Sujani 11:38
Yeah. And then, like you said, I think the importance of public health is getting highlighted across various industries, not just within the public sector, right. I think the private sector, they’re seeing the need for it. And I think just last month, I read that Harvard School of Public Health has launched a certification for C suite executives in private companies to be able to learn about public health and how they can implement certain interventions within their own companies, which is an another indication of the importance of public health.

Julia 12:12
Hmm, yeah, I think it’s, it’s really critical, right? Because we’re in it all together, right? It’s public sector, private sector, anybody and everybody like, like we’re involved in, now, like in, like working with hospitals, right, like and running joint clinics, for example, right? We are involved with social services, and really targeting that high risk population and looking at how we get in and prevent COVID and promote vaccination in shelters, for example, right? We’re working with malls to make sure that public health measures are in place, we’re everywhere and involved with everything, and it’s part of our lives. And I think definitely pandemic highlighted that public health is there. And it’s in the community. We are where people live, work, and play. And we will continue to be there.

Sujani 13:14
Yeah, absolutely. Would you say for any new grad students kind of pursuing public health not yet in the workforce, that there are certain skills that you would highlight that they focus on just that as a result of COVID? Has any anything else changed? Or are you seeing that there’s a need for a certain type of skills for new grads to kind of come into the workforce with that maybe wasn’t needed in the past or wasn’t really highlighted in the past?

Julia 13:42
I think there are like three main skills that I would say that are really prominent right now, from a technical perspective data, right, like ability to understand research and apply them to practice that knowledge, translation skill is essential. And so those individuals that are really like studying like that health promotion, prevention, and knowledge application, as well as data analysis, that is definitely something that is needed right now and will be needed in the future. I think another important component is communication skills, right? At the end of the day, we are communicating with the public and communicating internally with our staff, and then having very, very strong communication skills is really, really important. And the third is more of a type of an attitude, like looking at the big picture, right and not just focusing on like that local public health component, really looking at those components of system navigation and looking at the broader sector like health and social and private and public and anything and everything, right? Like, it’s like a big picture. It’s like we’re impacting the health of the society.

Sujani 15:05
Yeah.

Julia 15:05
And so individuals that love that big picture thinking, like will be, are still and will be needed, from my perspective.

Sujani 15:13
Yeah no, those are three great skills that new grads can focus on. And I think the other part of you know, this amazing career that you’ve built is that you not only are integrated in so many different, you know, boards and other initiatives, you also have a personal interest in coaching health leaders. And so, you know, for young professionals who are kind of starting out their careers, what sort of skill sets or attitudes should a leader in public health kind of be- be, I guess, working on to make sure that they can be impactful in public health?

Julia 15:53
Yeah, that’s, that’s a really good question, I think for young leaders and those that are coming on board in public health is really important to build relationships and connections. And when I speak with students and new individuals that are coming to our field, I really kind of really promotes that connection with associations. So for example, the Ontario Public Health Association, that’s one way of building relationships. And I know many students that started in the public health field, connected through the Ontario Public Health Association, integrated themselves into the many working groups that we have based on their passion and interest. And were able to get really good understanding of what public health is, build relationships, and find jobs. So like that networking and relationship building is really, really important.

Sujani 16:50
Yeah, I think, yeah, networking is such a huge component of, you know, just building a strong career. And I felt at least that it wasn’t a area of focus during my traditional training in undergrad or my masters. So I’m happy to hear that you also echo that sort of advice about relationship building and networking being one of the key, I guess, factors of being a good leader within public health. But I mean, any other career as well.

Julia 17:23
Yeah. And so like connecting with leaders, like via LinkedIn, or any other social media is really, really key.

Sujani 17:33
Yeah. Maybe going back to your career path that you’ve taken. I know, like you just mentioned it right now that your current role is the chief HR logistics within this pandemic. But prior to that, you were also I think, playing a pretty prominent role within your region public health is the- was it the Chief Nurse within the- within York region?

Julia 17:59
Yes. And so my role in in York Region public health is a dual role as a director, and chief nursing officer. And so as a director, my regular permanent position is director of Child and Family Health. So this is the area where is really focused on children. And then some of the services include, like healthy babies, healthy children, home visiting program, parenting groups, breastfeeding, prenatal education, as well as the dental program for York region.

Sujani 18:29
And, you know, I’m always curious, because someone like you who started off your career, being a bedside nurse, you know, doing some clinical work, being able to talk directly with patients, and then moving into more of a management role thinking about the strategy of public health interventions and delivery. Do you ever miss that, I guess, one on one communication with patients or individuals of the community, or do you get that sort of opportunity in this role as well?

Julia 19:00
So as part of my approach to directorship and management, I do actually go to the community, like when I was in the role, like not during the pandemic at the moment.

Sujani 19:11
Yeah.

Julia 19:12
When I was in the role, I did have many opportunities to go to the community participate as an observer in home visits in the groups, observe the clinics that we are delivering, attend community coalition’s, and so I really pride myself in being- being in touch with the community that way. And I love it, right? And it’s one important component of the role because I really feel like I need to understand what’s happening and how we can make things better.

Sujani 19:45
That’s amazing. I guess that’s, that’s the definition of a good management because you always want to witness what your work is at the strategic level is how it’s impacting your community as well. So really happy to hear that. I guess some of the other things I’ve noticed with your career, Julia, is that you also have an MBA in addition to some of the other amazing designations that you have. Was that decision to pursue an MBA kind of geared towards wanting to pursue more management related roles? Or is that something that you went ahead and got after you were in that position?

Julia 20:29
So I went ahead and got an MBA after I got a directorship position. And the way we look at promoting individuals in our workplaces, and it’s not unique to public health, is that we usually promote individuals that are really, really, really good at what they do as frontline, whether it’s an amazing nurse, or a fantastic inspector, or anybody in an administrative position that is doing a fantastic job will promote them into management. And at the same time management is a completely different profession, right? And so it takes time for people to acquire those management skills. And since I’ve been in management since 2006, and then got my directorship position in 2009. I felt like I was acquiring those skills on the job, which is the best, it’s really good. I learned a lot. And yet at the same time, I felt like it is my profession, how about I go ahead and actually studied properly and- and then there was this amazing, amazing program that came up. And I was part of the first cohort of extremely talented individuals. And that cohort was a global executive MBA in healthcare and life sciences. And I felt like that was the right fit for me. Right? It has that health twist, yeah, it has an opportunity of really understanding the global health environment that we operate in, and at the same time acquire those business and management skills. And that program is, is definitely life changing from a thinking strategic positioning perspective, and many, many, many other aspects of it, and I highly recommend it to anybody.

Sujani 22:15
And I guess it was at the University of Toronto, and it’s a two year program, if I got that correctly. Is that right?

Julia 22:21
Yes, it’s at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management, and it’s an 18 month program.

Sujani 22:29
Okay. Could you tell us a bit more about kind of how the program is set up? And how I guess you were able to balance work? And I assume you took this full time as well?

Julia 22:42
Yes, so the program is full time. And there are six modules that are in class modules. Some of them are at the University of Toronto, and some are in other countries. So I had an opportunity to visit and see how the system works in your- in the US in San Francisco. And also, we had an opportunity to travel to Singapore. And that’s another area where it was fascinating to see how the healthcare system works there. And so it’s a combination of in class travel, as well as online courses. Some of the online courses included finance, accounting, and many other components. So very well balanced program. Obviously, it is very challenging to do this program, in addition to a full time very busy job. And so I had to make a deal with my family, saying that some of my evenings, and most of my weekends are dedicated to this. And, and I went through it, I’m glad I’m really, really glad that I did it, I learned a lot. And I was able to apply so much of it actually during this pandemic, right, like really bringing those business skills into- into the logistics HR role. It was amazing how much I could use and really benefit from that- that program specifically.

Sujani 24:13
I guess my question is, had you not pursued the MBA? How do you think your role would have been different, I guess.

Julia 24:22
The difference is that the decisions that I’m making in that role, I really grounded in strategic frameworks, and data. And an example of that is really so if you’re looking at the huge workforce that supports the COVID response, right, we have about 500-600 staff there.

Sujani 24:43
Yeah.

Julia 24:43
At the same time, the environment around us is constantly changing. And we need to pivot and pivot and pivot again almost every day. So- So one of the examples would be developing like a staffing metrics framework calculator to see where the work is that is needed today. How do we actually assign number of staff that are needed to fulfill that work and move around people toward the work. So moving them from case management to contact tracing to outbreaks, and now to immunization clinics do essential services and back and forth based on some data. The other way of approaching it is based on intuition, which is fine, and it can work.

Sujani 25:28
Yeah.

Julia 25:28
But- but we actually need to schedule this large workforce. So how do we make that decision? Right? So, so really being a bit more precise than I would do without the measurement and data.

Sujani 25:41
Yeah, it sounds like, you know, having this MBA training has added to your toolkit, and you’re able to make these decisions for your organization much quickly, because you have these frameworks to rely on. And I can see how that becomes quite important during a pandemic response.

Julia 25:59
It’s like moving from trial and error.

Sujani 26:03
Yeah.

Julia 26:04
Thinking to precision, more precision data, strategic. This is what we’re doing now. This is how we’re moving and it’s clear to all the parties involved.

Sujani 26:15
Absolutely. I guess, I guess my other question is, what would you tell someone who’s interested in perhaps pursuing an MBA before they get into a management position? How do you think that sort of path would differ? Or? Yeah, just curious about your advice to someone wanting to take that?

Julia 26:37
So the there are different types of MBAs, right? So they’re the Executive MBA, where people bring more of that real life experience and it creates, from my end at least, very rich discussions as part of the group and really that real life application, which is great, right, and I love that. At the same time, I know that there are MBA programs where people that just graduate from a baccalaureate degree goes straight into the MBA. And I think bringing that pure theoretical not knowing stance is great as well, right? So- so there are pros and cons to everything. I just feel like with those new grads that go straight into the NBA, that real life application, they really need to work towards that. And my suggestion would be perhaps having some sort of potentially maybe a part time job or some sort of a project where they could apply the learnings right away otherwise, like, from my perspective, if you don’t use it, you kind of lose it over time.

Sujani 27:42
Yeah.

Julia 27:43
Right?

Sujani 27:44
Yeah. I think yeah, it’s it was kind of the same with me. When I went to pursue my master of public health, I had gone right from my undergraduate degree into my Master of Public Health. And now sitting back and reflecting, I know that my experience would have probably been slightly more enriched had I had additional years of public health experience to reflect on doing my courses and projects and assignments. So I assume it’s kind of a similar approach for this as well.

Julia 28:14
And to any learning, right?

Sujani 28:15
Yeah.

Julia 28:16
No, now when I- So for example, my team and I, we’ve developed a mentorship program in public health, and there are several components to the program. So there is the theoretical group coaching component where we discuss theory, but at the end of the day, we all- I also offer the individuals that are part of the program and acting management application. And this is where the learning really occurs at that athlete during that application and reflection.

Sujani 28:41
Yeah.

Julia 28:42
It’s that cycle of learning, applying, reflecting and learning again, that is extremely important.

Sujani 28:48
Yeah, absolutely. I guess on this kind of topic of additional training, kind of, you know, classroom based or more formal training, the Certified Health executive certification is something else that you’re pursuing. Could you maybe explain a little bit about how that perhaps is a little bit different than the MBA training that you did?

Julia 29:11
So yes, I’m, as part of the actually, as part of the Rotman Executive MBA, there was an opportunity at the same time to pursue the Canadian Health executive certification. And I took the opportunity to do that just because I feel like that executive certification or designation is also important to bring forward individuals at that executive level and bring some weight into that because it’s really important to have individuals that are trained in higher level positions and apply sight same or similar concepts, right? So as part of CAG designation, there is the 360 feedback that we’ve done as part of the Rotman program anyways, right, we’ve developed our learning plan. We’ve done a lot of the learnings and the courses, so CAG, they’re using the leads approach. And it is very similar to what we’ve done as part of the Rotman program anyways, so I felt like having an additional designation will be helpful. And it’s also great connection with the College of the health leaders to be part of.

Sujani 30:27
Do you find that, you know, I think with the MBA, you’re saying it was focused on healthcare, and then this certification is for Health Executives, do you find that a public health lens is applied in addition to health care in these training?

Julia 30:43
So as part of the Rotman degree, definitely, we’ve had lots and lots of discussions about the broader system health system like not just healthcare system, right, and public health fits right in. Because at the end of the day, to make a difference at the population level, you need to apply public health measures, public health plans, so I personally feel like there was a really, really good fit within the program. I’ve learned alone and a lot and I was able to contribute to the class discussions.

Sujani 31:15
Oh, it’s amazing. You know, I think one of the questions I was curious to ask you about is just given your amazing career to date, what has been some of the challenges or failures or maybe rejections that have propelled you to where you are right now. Can you think of any examples that have really, I guess, pushed you forward and has been great lessons learned?

Julia 31:40
Right, so one of the examples was the I don’t consider it this failure unnecessary, but it’s learning opportunity, right? And one of the examples was the baby friendly initiative. So I believe it was 2014 or 15, where the province mandated all public health units to implement the baby friendly initiative designation. And it’s a large, huge cope initiative that is intended to promote healthy nutrition for babies, for children in the community with the focus on breastfeeding. And so we, my division, and I leadership team, as well as staff work towards this designation and work really, really hard. Our clinics in York region are probably state of the art breastfeeding clinics, excellent, excellent staff, we have many of our staff with designated lactation consultant designations, all the I guess the surveys that were done, as far as people that we’ve seen on our clinics, stated that we are great at service delivery, they benefited from the services. And yet at the same time, we did the pre assessment. And we figured out during the pre assessment that while we serve a certain percentage of the population, there are some people that are not accessing our clinics, or they’re actually not aware about the service, which was quite sad to me to know. And we decided to postpone going for designation until we figure it out, right? And since then, my big huge learning is that while we can enhance and improve and accelerate our services, like we need to look at the broader population, what are the needs and how we, we let them know that these services exist, and really focusing on that, and since then, we build our baby friendly Initiative Coalition in your region engage many, many other service providers in the community, like La Leche League, and others. And we ended up passing that designation, and it was a great celebration, and we did it as a community. So that was my, my learning from that perspective. So that’s more of a professional learning. My personal learning is that when I coach people, I always say you really need to kind of move on and, and switch to different positions or different organizations to see the bigger picture. And yet myself, I’m in public health since 2001. So it’s not it’s more of a wondering, right, like, I love public health, I’m passionate about it. And I definitely had many, many, many opportunities to be and switch roles and learn in public health. And by the way, I am planning to do a doctorate degree in public health. So while I’m consulting and proposing to others to switch around and see the bigger picture, I am standing at the public health field, more of a wandering not necessarily a failure.

Sujani 34:44
Yeah.

Julia 34:45
Just putting it out there that it’s on my mind.

Sujani 34:47
Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up because I was excited to hear that when we when you mentioned it to me before we started recording. So I am going to ask you a bit more about that decision. But going back to you know, postponing the baby-friendly initiative designation, that must have been not an easy choice to make, to be able to put your foot down to say, we’re not going to go ahead until we kind of get to the bottom of this. How challenging was that decision to, I guess, make and then communicate to your team.

Julia 35:17
It was definitely a challenging decision. I didn’t make it that long, to be honest. Like I did bring it back to my management team, we had a very lengthy discussion at that time. And we made a decision together, carefully weighing the pros and cons of that. Also acknowledging that the staff may be disappointed. And so that this is where bringing the whole team together is really important, right? We made a decision together, we could have went right away. And we chose to postpone and by six months to really figure things out and go broader. And so yes, the communication part was really, really important. I feel like I did, I was able to bring the management team and staff on board, we ended up succeeding and getting the designation, which was fantastic. And it was a huge celebration for us. So no regrets there.

Sujani 36:11
Amazing. Yeah, going back to the Doctor of Public Health degree, for those of our listeners kind of not aware of this degree, it’s, it’s an additional kind of doctoral degree. Some people have compared, you know, the differences between the PhD versus DrPH. PhD being more research focused, of course, and then the DrPH is more applied public health kind of leadership training, and we have the first one in Canada at the University of Toronto. And Julia, you will be one of the, I guess, first students of that program in September. Yeah. So tell us about, I guess the decision to pursue that.

Julia 36:52
Yeah. It’s a very interesting question, Sujani, and then definitely, I was kind of debating with myself.

Sujani 36:59
Yeah.

Julia 37:00
I feel like there is a room for renewal for every, like, you know, the whole spectrum of health, right?

Sujani 37:07
Yeah.

Julia 37:07
Public health is an important one. And so I’m hoping to make an impact there as well like, really to bring that local public health approach to the table when those decisions are being made. And I really would like to ground those decision in the research, in applied research. And this is why I chose the doctorate degree versus a PhD, to really look at the field of public health. Look at the bigger picture. I know that modernization was on the table before, it may be on the table in the future. I don’t know that right. But definitely, I would like to be part of that I would like to ground that in real applied research and help rebuild the field. And this is why I’m there, to learn, and to move us all forward together.

Sujani 37:58
It’s amazing. And just knowing what I know about you, I think you’re going to be such an amazing addition to the first cohort of this program. So I’m, I’m excited for you and looking forward to hearing kind of how this program evolves your career. Maybe we can catch up on that topic later on in the future.

Julia 38:18
For sure.

Sujani 38:19
Do you know- do you have any insights into you know how large the class is going to be or other colleagues that are going to be part of this cohort?

Julia 38:28
No, I have no idea. However, if somebody that’s listening to this podcast, and they’re going to be part of the program, please connect with me.

Sujani 38:36
Oh, right. Yes, that’s a good idea. Well, thank you so much, Julia. I think this discussion, I could keep it going for another hour. But I’m going to respect that we are doing this on a Sunday afternoon and hoping that we can have you back on to chat more about your career and how COVID has changed things. But before we I guess, conclude any kind of, yeah, additional tips or words of wisdom for young professionals or any professional in public health kind of just looking to you for advice for their next step perhaps.

Julia 39:15
Yeah, and thank you Sujani, definitely happy to connect in the future. I really feel very excited and optimistic about the field of public health. I feel like there is a lot of potential there. And I hope that the students that are engaged in the field will feel the same. I really encourage people to connect through associations apply for positions in local public health or other public health kinds of domains within the system. And just connect, I am- I feel like the future is bright for us. Yeah, very excited.

Sujani 39:53
Thank you. I hope you enjoyed that episode with Julia Roitenberg in becoming a senior health executive as a career path you’re considering, I do hope you walked away with a lot of great insights from Julia as well as areas for you to reflect on for your own career because I know I certainly did. And as usual, we will make sure to link any resources we mentioned in the episode in the shownotes page at pHspot.ca/podcast. And if you’re interested in the DrPH degree or the Doctor of Public Health degree that we discussed on this episode, I do want to mention that we have a great free resource page with a downloadable tool over at pHspot.ca/drph. So be sure to check that out. And until next time, thank you so much for tuning into PH SPOTlight and for the invaluable work that you do for this world.

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About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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