My first weeks at the Public Health Agency of Canada

I am completing my practicum placement at the Public Health Agency of Canada's Risk Sciences Division, located in Guelph, Ontario. Although I will be involved in a number of activities and projects, the main focus of my practicum will involve conducting a scoping review of importation and predictive models of vector-borne diseases and pathogens. This will include aspects of protocol development, relevance screening of articles, analysis, and manuscript or report writing. In addition to this main project, I have also had the opportunity to participate and contribute to other scoping reviews on related topics conducted within the department, such as climate change impacts of vector borne diseases. As my project contains aspects of both knowledge synthesis and risk modelling, I have the opportunity work with and experience both major groups and focuses within the Public Health Risk Sciences Division.

Much of the work conducted by the division is very much a collaborative team effort. Everyone within the office has been extremely supportive and welcoming from the start, and are always willing to provide help and assistance when needed. I have already had the opportunity to meet and interact with a number of people within the PHAC office such as epidemiologists, risk assessors, other MPH students, PhD and master students, and many more which all have a different perspective and bring a unique set of skills to the team.

In just the few weeks I have been here, I have participated in a number of exciting activities and events. To prepare for my project, I have received training in knowledge synthesis methodologies as well as an introduction to risk modeling. Much of the training was one-on-one and interactive, allowing me to fully understand the material and feel confident in beginning my own project using the concepts learned. Later on in the summer, I will also have the opportunity to complete meta-analysis training to develop quantitative data analysis skills with other colleagues in the department. At the start of my placement, I participated in a student orientation session to familiarize myself with the functions and activities of the division, as well as meet many crucial members of the team. I have also become familiar with the structure and functions of the various PHAC divisions, as well as the work and research they conduct through participating in a number webinar presentations. Overall, my time here has already been a wonderful learning experience and I can't wait for what the rest of the summer has in store!