New beginnings

When I chose to pursue a master’s, I needed a program that would allow me to study while working full-time.  Lakehead University’s Master of Public Health offers this flexibility.  Studying and working full-time required a lot of sacrifices such as no vacations to warm climates during the winter months, and busy weekends.

In A Snapshot Into My First Northern Ontario Tour, I mentioned that I would complete my MPH practicum with the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) by distance with a one week on-site practicum placement.  I successfully completed my MPH practicum with the NWHU and spent one week on site in Dryden, Ontario, from March 19-23, 2018. I met office staff, participated in unique public health job shadowing opportunities and travelled throughout the northern Ontario region.  I stayed in Sioux Lookout with my family and commuted to Dryden on a daily basis.  The locals seemed to think it was a long drive but for me to drive one hour each way seemed short as my commute to work in Ottawa is nearly one hour each way.

During my practicum, I also learned about the roles and activities of a local health unit.  I met with topic leads in dental and oral health, speech and language, environmental health (inspections), health equity, sexual health, healthy babies/healthy children, infectious diseases and vaccinations.

The highlights of my on-site practicum component included job shadowing a public health inspector on two inspections to a tattoo parlor and restaurant.  It was an eye-opening experience for me to learn more about the various aspects of inspections that are considered during a visit: location of chemicals, sanitization, temperature of food stations (hot, cold, freezer, fridge), cleanliness of work stations and the hot water temperature for the dishwashing station

I also visited a reserve where I watched dental care treatment being provided to children at a reserve child care centre and school.  The NWHU also has a dental bus to provide dental/oral care in remote regions which I toured.  It was amazing to see how dental care can be provided in adaptable situations especially to remote communities.

When my one week on-site practicum in Dryden came to an end, I was wishing that I could stay longer on-site.

Prior to my convocation ceremony at Lakehead University, on June 2, 2018, I spent one week in Sioux Lookout, with my parents, where I learned more about the area.  We visited the Lac Seul Reserve as well as the Pelican Falls First Nations High School (PFFNHS).  It struck me that the roads leading up to these places are generally gravel roads and the paved roads come to an end when one turns off to go to a reserve.

I received my Master of Public Health, Specialization in Indigenous and Northern Health from Lakehead University on June 2.  It was bittersweet in that I will miss studying at Lakehead, immersing in intellectual discussions and learning new topics.  However, I was accepted into Carleton University’s Graduate Diploma in Public Policy and Program Evaluation and will begin studies in fall.  This is another online program which I believe will be an asset to my career in the federal public service as program evaluation, policy development and results delivery will continue to be a priority and of importance in government.

I recently started a new position at Transport Canada as an Aviation Safety Program Analyst.  While my MPH is not related to the subject matter, the courses I took have proven to be valuable learning opportunities and experiences (i.e. biostatistics, program planning and evaluation and qualitative inquiry).  Moreover, having a graduate degree can also be an asset for positions that require a graduate degree to even apply!

If you are a recent graduate or student interested in a career in the federal public service, please reach out to me and I would be more than happy to share tips, recommendations and advice.


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