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Q & A with student Sophia den Otter Moore: My practicum experience

Sophia den Otter Moore

MSc Global Health student Sophia den Otter Moore

August 30, 2018

Students in the course-based stream of the MSc Global Health participate in a field practicum that provides them with hands-on experience in the global health field. Soon-to-be alumna Sophia den Otter Moore answers questions about her field practicum placement at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Where have you been doing your field practicum and what have you been working on?

I’m working for the Public Health Agency of Canada in Ottawa, in the center for chronic disease prevention and health equity. While here, I’ve had the opportunity to review and edit a report on the potential of social finance to improve outcomes of the social determinants of health, including income, housing, and employment. I’ve also participated in a working group to help develop policies and programs to promote healthy built environments in Canadian communities. In these environments, the physical surroundings in which residents live, work, and play are built in a way to make the healthy choice a simple one.

But the main project I’ve been working on involves the development of a series of infographics that provide a conceptualization of the social determinants of health, as there are many different interpretations of what exactly those are. My team hopes these infographics will inform the work of PHAC and key governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.

How do you think your field practicum will benefit you in your future career?

Having been exposed to diverse projects and policy work, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for, and understanding of, the many different approaches to promoting health – from screening and surveillance to designing inclusive communities that promote active lifestyles.

It’s important to think creatively and innovatively in both public and global health because there are so many quickly evolving challenges.

I’ve also learned about the importance of intersectoral collaboration, as public and global health require action from many stakeholders, within and outside of health care, to promote health and well-being.

What skills have you developed through this experience?

This practicum has helped me refine my critical thinking skills. PHAC is extremely thorough and systematic whenever a report, program or policy is created. All evidence has to be reviewed and trusted, and consultations throughout the agency occur to guide and inform thinking. Experiencing this systematic approach has reminded me to always think critically about evidence and knowledge in my work, and recognize the importance of consulting multiple sources and stakeholders. 

What are your specific interests in global health?

It’s hard to pick just one area. One of the program’s biggest strengths is that it offers the opportunity to explore and learn about many different areas of global health. That said, I’m particularly interested in mental health. I participated in the mental health stream during the India symposium, and my scholarly paper topic was related to adolescent mental health. I think there’s historically been an under emphasis on the importance and impact of mental health in the global health field. Refugee health is also an important challenge right now with respect to the diverse health challenges refugees face, from transit to resettlement.

What's been your most memorable experience in the program so far?
India was by far the most memorable experience! It was amazing to meet the students from our partner universities, and we learned so much from working on a health project with students from all over the world – all with very different perspectives and opinions.

What did you do before joining the program?

I did my undergraduate degree in Life Sciences at Queen’s University and joined the program directly after graduating. 

What do you hope to do after graduating?

I hope to work abroad for a health or development related organization in the near future. There are also a lot of health-related start-ups emerging that are using technology and data to improve healthcare access and quality, so I’ve been exploring those opportunities as well.