My Practicum Experience at Oxford County Public Health

On April 24th, I entered the first week of my practicum placement at Oxford County Public Health unsure of what to expect, but I was excited to get started. On the first day, I was introduced to my main project revolving around the new food premise risk assessment procedures. In 2015 the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care released a new food premise risk assessment with a standardized weighing system to make risk categorization more consistent across Ontario. The goal of my project is to evaluate and assess changes in food premise inspection workload stemming from the provincial modifications to the risk assessment procedures. By evaluating food premise risk assessment trends that have occurred as a result of the changes, I have learned a great amount. This project has been collaborative in nature, and it is inspiring to work with such a diverse group of individuals. Currently, I am in the process of drafting my report detailing the purpose, methods and results of the evaluation.

As a part of the practicum placement, students are encouraged to get familiar with several areas of public health. Another project that I have been greatly involved with at Oxford County Public Health is a wound care survey for people who inject drugs. Since the initiation of the Harm Reduction program, several public health nurses have observed wounds at the injection sites on their clients’ limbs. These can cause serious infection impacting clients’ overall health and well-being as well as health care costs. Unfortunately, there are few services that provide support for injection-related wounds in the Oxford County community. I have been directly involved in this project by surveying people who inject drugs about their experiences injecting drugs, and any related wounds they may have had. This experience has become very rewarding for me because I feel as though I am playing a large role in improving the lives of individuals within the community. I am hopeful this study will provide public health with the evidence needed to make an informed decision about how to best assist this population in obtaining relevant services. Other projects that I have worked on include completing dental screening reports for all schools in Oxford County, as well as a project that seeks to increase rabies vaccination compliance for pets in Oxford County.

It seems like just yesterday that I embarked on my summer long journey as a practicum student at Oxford County Public Health. However, I have been at my placement for nearly eight weeks. I guess the statement “time flies when you’re having fun” really does hold true. The people at Oxford County Public Health have been incredibly welcoming and are one of the main reasons that I have had such a positive experience. I enjoy working alongside them as they all have such valuable expertise to offer. The mentors have also made an effort to involve the students in several developmental learning activities such as scheduling a lab tour at Public Health Ontario, registering us for The Food Forum for Industry and Government in Southwestern Ontario conference, and inviting us to join exciting webinars and teleconferences. I am thankful for all the opportunities, guidance and support that I have received thus far in my placement, and I am excited to see what the rest of the summer holds.