Public Health Degrees – Hear from the Students Series
I chose to pursue a career in Public Health because I’ve always had an interest in health. Graduating with my first undergraduate degree in Kinesiology, I knew I wanted to promote healthy living. I also like(d) to tell people when they’re wrong. So after a few years of working in the health and research fields, I went on to study Environmental Public Health, where I was hoping I’d be able to go into restaurants and tell them all the wrong things they’re doing, and how it really should be done. Much to my dismay, 90’s tv shows probably gave me an outdated impression of what a Health Inspector does. Much of the work these days in the field revolves around education and working together with the operators to achieve the desired outcome. OK fine, I’ll put my ticket book away!
As a newlywed, some of the biggest factors in determining where I chose to do my program was cost and flexibility. Trying to start a family, satisfying the ever shopping-hungry wife and balancing vacation time due to wedding plans overseas helped narrow my choices down to a handful of schools. Another factor was the reputation of the school. I looked into schools in the States as well, but ultimately chose a Canadian school because after all I have no intention of going to work in the States. My previous instructors also had said good things about my school – Lakehead University.
Prior to starting my Masters at Lakehead, I had already worked as a Public Health Inspector/Environmental Health Officer for several years and have also worked overseas, seeing how international standards fare with our Canadian standards. Currently, I am taking what’s called FlexTime studies at the University and as such, only take classes online. This works well with most working individuals like myself, with classes on weeknights and other allocated times for readings and assignments.
So far, the instructors have been great at providing real world applications to the courses. I have another colleague studying the same program but at another school and his course material is a lot more academic. If I had planned to pursue further studies, then maybe an academic approach would be good, but since I am not, I prefer more real life approaches to the things we’re learning.
The upfront cost of the program is probably the not so amazing thing about my program. That sounds contradictory to what I’ve written above, but the tuition structure of the program is such that you pay more for the first 2 years of the program for an additional 2 years of no tuition fees after that. It works out to be on par with other similar institutions but I was thinking if I could get this expense out of the way, maybe I could afford diapers after!
Finally, my advice to prospective Master’s students is simple. Talk to people. Get advice from your previous instructors on what type of program you should pursue if further education interests you, and how it fits into your overall career aspirations. Also evaluate the likelihood of attending either full time or online (some online programs require you to attend in person a few weeks prior to starting of the program and a few weeks near the end of the program) before making your final decision.
About the author
Once upon a time there was a boy named Micky. He grew up in the suburbs of Coquitlam, BC, roaming the streets of his neighbourhood with his friends, aspiring to be the first Chinese NBA player. That continues to be a dream as he’s neither 6’6″ nor is he fast like the Road Runner. Nevertheless, he wasn’t your usual Chinese boy either – he wasn’t (and still isn’t) good in math, didn’t study hard in school and occasionally screws up cooking rice. After graduating from SFU’s Kinesiology program, he went on to study at BCIT’s Environmental Public Health program. There, he then took his skills and sailed the high seas, before finally landing in Winnipeg. Here he battles ferocious blood sucking mosquitoes, conquers unrelenting potholes and scrapes the frost from inside his chariot windows. Despite these challenges, here he lives with his princess and imaginary dog happily ever after.