Division of Community Health and Humanities

Graduate Programs - Master of Public Health - Population/Public Health - Practicum Blog: Keihan Power

Practicum Blog: Keihan Power

Hello future MPH students,

I am writing to discuss the rewarding practicum experience I had with Eastern Health in Mount Pearl, which I completed from May 7 to July 27, 2018. Before I go any further, I would like to congratulate you on your acceptance into this highly respected program.

I had two projects that I completed within my 12 weeks at Eastern Health. Both topics were very interesting and were new to me. My first project was completed for the Communicable Disease Control team. I conducted a literature review of the mobile technology options available to support patients with tuberculosis (TB). Patients with TB are observed by a health care provider as they take their medication over the course of several months. This is known as direct observed therapy (DOT). While it is in place to ensure patients adhere to their treatment, this method can be very costly and time-consuming, especially in remote areas where health care providers may have to travel long distances. In my research I came across several types of mobile technology that can be used instead of in-person visits, such as software applications that can let the patient record videos of themselves. I provided recommendations, for Eastern Health to consider, related to cost-effective and patient-friendly approaches for supporting patients with TB in the Eastern Health region.

My second project was completed for the Health Promotion Division. I conducted an environmental scan of the scope of practice of nurses working in sexual health clinics in schools and community settings. As Eastern Health’s High School Sexual Health Project continues to grow, there is a particular interest in similar types of programs and practices happening across the country. I contacted various health professionals across Canada, such as physicians, nurses and medical officers of health to learn about sexual health nursing practice. It was very interesting to learn about the differences in policies across the country. Based on my findings, I provided recommendations for consideration towards enhancing access to sexual health services in the Eastern Health region.
Apart from my research work, I had numerous opportunities to get involved with the community. I job shadowed regional nutritionists who were doing outreach work at seniors and wellness events. I went to summer camps and discussed healthy eating with young children. I attended professional development sessions on various topics such as conflict management, team effectiveness, healthy eating and body image. I also attended writing workshops.

A healthy eating discussion before playing a couple of games with 
the children. Summer camp in Pouch Cove, NL.

Eastern Health is a great place to work. During my practicum, my colleagues were very professional and respectful, and they always checked in with me to see how I was doing. Work-life balance is very important at Eastern Health. There are opportunities for fitness and nutrition breaks during the day.

This practicum was not without its challenges. Keeping up with all the emails was much more time consuming that I thought. Arranging for teleconferences was sometimes difficult, especially with the time zone differences across the country. In addition, having to facilitate and arrange for mutually convenient times with several people was harder than I expected. Because my practicum was completed during the summer months, many people that I contacted were on vacation, and so it took longer to get a response. To deal with these challenges, I had to relax and be patient. Time-management was very important. I kept a calendar so I could easily plan ahead. Every Friday afternoon I wrote down a plan for the following week.

Overall, this practicum experience will be very useful for my career, as I plan to study medicine in the future. Eastern Health is the largest health authority in Newfoundland and Labrador, and I was fortunate to meet all kinds of health care professionals with different roles. My work experience with Eastern Health has definitely given me a better idea of where I see myself in the future.

If I could share one piece of advice to a future MPH student completing their practicum, it would be that collaboration is the key to success. I could not have found the information I did without reaching out for help. This consisted of emails, phone calls and video conferences with public health professionals across the country. Regardless of where you choose to complete your practicum, I think you will find collaboration to be very helpful in finding the information that you need.

Collaboration is the key to success.
Wellness Coalition – Avalon East.

In conclusion, I am very grateful for my practicum opportunity with Eastern Health. In only 12 weeks, I learned so much that will help me as I move ahead in my career. It was the perfect combination of research and community involvement. I would certainly recommend that you consider Eastern Health for your practicum.

No matter where you complete your practicum, I’m sure your experiences will be very rewarding. And don’t forget to take time for yourself. Work-life balance is very important.

Thanks for reading, and I wish you all the best of luck throughout your MPH degree!

Keihan Power