My summer at Oxford County Public Health may be finished, but the valuable experiences that I have absorbed along the way will last forever.
The purpose of my practicum project was to better understand the changes that occurred to the food premises inspection workload (i.e., number of food premises inspections) in Oxford County as a result of the provincial modifications to the risk assessment tool instituted in 2015.
To accomplish this, an analysis of food premises assigned risk categories and the resulting changes in the volume of inspections was performed. In addition, focus groups were conducted with public health inspectors to obtain contextual information that could assist in enriching the quantitative findings. The results of this evaluation indicated that following the implementation of the new food premises risk assessment tool, there was an overall decrease in routine food premises inspections. Now that the final report for this project is completed, the information will be disseminated to relevant audiences. The results will be used to assist boards of health in predicting the resources needed to prevent and reduce cases of foodborne illnesses in Oxford County. One major aspect of this project that I enjoyed was that it was a mix between quantitative and qualitative methods. This combination helped me gain a wider skill set and experience performing multiple tasks. It was also in an area that I was previously unfamiliar with so I learned a great amount.
One aspect of my overall experience I enjoyed was that I was involved in several different relevant projects within my placement. For one side project in particular, I collaborated closely with the Managers and Supervisors to contrast the differences between the old Ontario Public Health Standards (2008) and the draft Standards for Public Health Programs and Services (2017). This project evolved and I became more involved with helping Oxford County Public Health transform successfully to the new Standards. I was even given the opportunity to provide my expertise to the Director/CEO of the health unit. This was a very rewarding experience for me as I helped shape the future of Oxford County Public Health to maximize their contributions to improving the health of populations.
Working alongside a variety of determined public health professionals during my practicum has been truly inspiring. The staff at Oxford County Public Health have a wealth of knowledge they are always willing to share whether it is advice on obtaining a career after school or public health topics. In fact, they even hosted various presentations to foster student development. I have really enjoyed learning from all their meaningful work! Aside from learning an immense amount, I also had a lot of fun within this positive environment. The mentors make an incredible effort to ensure the students are thriving and experiencing any opportunity of interest to them. Needless to say, thanks to Oxford County Public Health, my interests in the public health field have been solidified.