Strengthening public health across Canada through knowledge and connections
Pemma Muzumdar has always loved to make connections. As an educator at the Ontario Science Centre, and then as a host on Discovery Channel Canada's SciQ, Pemma helped youth to see the science in everyday life. As an Advisor at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, she helped patients understand the policies and legislation relevant to their medical care. And, in her current role with the six National Collaborating Centres for Public Health (NCCs), she helps public health staff across Canada connect with the evidence, knowledge, and networks they need to do their work more effectively.
While Pemma has an affinity for relationship building and communications, she credits the University of Waterloo's Master of Public Health (MPH) program for teaching her the importance of maintaining a strong learning network, developing collaborative practices, and sharing knowledge and resources in an online environment.
During her time in the MPH program, she developed a strong pan-Canadian network. Many of her program peers were already working in public health as inspectors, managers, health promoters, policy analysts, researchers, and evaluation specialists. Those who weren't already embedded in the system took advantage of their practicums to experience roles within health units, larger agencies, and community health centres, many of whom transitioned into positions in these areas. Because of this, Pemma's peer network became a developing professional network.
As a student, I had the opportunity to learn from and work with people who held senior positions at regional health authorities, health ministries, research institutes, and non-governmental organizations. My connections with peers were both personal and professional - we were all learning and developing together - the MPH program was our common ground.
Connecting back to the MPH program
For the past five years, Pemma has been a guest instructor for the Foundations residency course of the MPH program. She introduces students to the myriad of evidence-based resources that can be incredibly useful to students throughout their coursework. Pemma's first-hand knowledge of the program, and how the course content connects to the core competencies for public health, helps her to highlight how MPH courses can equip students for practical aspects of public health work, such as critically thinking about root causes, taking on leadership roles, being able to manage complex projects and working in partnership.
"I consider my time in the MPH program to be an essential piece of my public health journey and sharing my reflections with a new cohort of students is often the highlight of my year!"