Episode 19_ Welcoming the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree to Canada, with Erica de Ruggiero

    hosted by: Sujani Siva

Show Notes

Today on the show, Sujani sits down with Erica Di Ruggiero to talk about some very exciting news for Canada!

In May 2020, the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health announced the much-anticipated Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program – the first of its kind in Canada.

The DrPH has been a topic of interest amongst our PH SPOT community members for some time now. Last year, we published a blog post written by Harman Sandhu titled “Doctor of Public Health – Isn’t that just a PhD?”. This article has continued to be one of the most-read posts on our blog, and since the launch of the DrPH program here in Canada, this post has been one of the top 5 pages visited on our website.

In order to bring you even more information about this program, Sujani sat down with the individual who spearheaded the initiative to bring the first DrPH program to a Canadian academic institution. Erica Di Ruggiero is also the interim program director of the DrPH program.

Prior to sitting down with Erica, we made sure to collect questions the PH SPOT community had about the program (thank you for those submissions, they were all great questions). When we looked at all of your questions, they fell into 7 themes: the ideal candidate/eligibility, life after a DrPH, how this program compares on an international stage; a few logistical questions about the program; some content questions regarding the program; and the most popular one, tuition and cost. As a result, this episode is framed around these 7 themes.

We hope this conversation with Erica, which is packed with a tonne of information, will help to answer questions you’ve had, and perhaps even help you decide whether you’d like to consider the DrPH program for the next fall admission, or for a future year.

You’ll Learn

  • How the initiative to introduce a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program began and Erica’s experience leading it
  • What is the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program, and how the DrPH program is different from a PhD
  • Who the ideal candidate is for a DrPH program, and at what point of one’s career this program should be considered
  • How the selection committee will be mindful in selecting a diverse cohort
  • The training path that all DrPH students will take (there will be no specializations at the moment)
  • Example courses that students will have the opportunity to take in the following areas: 1) Data & Analysis; 2) Leadership, Management & Governance; 3) Policy & Programs; 4) Education & Workforce Development
  • Integration, care and focus within the program on Indigenous issues and racism
  • Types of opportunities one can expect upon completing a DrPH program
  • Whether we are setting up future leadership opportunities to require higher qualifications, like a DrPH
  • The ongoing discussions taking place at the faculty around tuition costs and opportunities for financial support
    • Tip: Details around tuition costs are still being discussed, and answers are not yet available. However, don’t let the cost deter you completely from applying. If you are interested and know you want to do the DrPH program, apply. Once you are admitted, there are discussions you can have with the faculty around financial support.
  • How the University of Toronto’s Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program compares to other programs, internationally
  • Why one might want to consider or give the University of Toronto’s DrPH program more attention and as a top choice
  • What Erica foresees as the future of public health in terms of education and workforce, here in Canada and globally

Today’s Guest

Dr. Erica Di Ruggiero

Erica is currently the Interim Program Director of the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. She spearheaded the initiative to bring the first DrPH program to a Canadian academic institute.

At the University of Toronto, Erica is also the Director of the Centre for Global Health and Director of the Collaborative Specialization in Global Health, an Associate Professor in the Division of Social and Behavioural Health Sciences and holds a non-budgetary cross-appointment as Associate Professor in the Institute of Health Policy Management and Evaluation. She is also an Associate Member of the School of Graduate Studies. Prior to her role at the University of Toronto, Erica spent 15 years in different leadership roles at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research-Institute of Population and Public Health (CIHR-IPPH). Full bio and more about her work can be found here.


Other PH SPOT resources:

6 day infographic planning challenge for public health professionals

Before you go…

  • Do you have a topic that you would like us to cover or a guest we should sit down with? Tell us using this form.

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.


Sujani Siva

Sujani is the founder of PHSPOT.ca and Infographics101.com. After guiding a number of public health students, new grads and professionals, Sujani created these two platforms to reach, inspire and support even more of her peers. 

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