Sara Husain

Master of Health Evaluation student

What projects did you work on?

I had the opportunity to contribute to three ongoing evaluations being conducted by the Evaluation Division of the Office of Audit and Evaluation (OAE), at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Health Canada. These include evaluations of projects designed to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including Tuberculosis and COVID-19 and the Human Pathogens and Toxins Regulations & Act (HPTAR).

What was the highlight of your practicum?

The highlight of my practicum was the orientation to the Federal program as well as having the opportunity to work collaboratively in a way that directly applies the knowledge and skills, I learned through the MHE program. Moreover, I’ve gained a greater appreciation of how evaluations are planned and designed at the Federal level.

What did you learn that will help you in the future?

As students, we often look at evaluations as unidimensional undertakings, moving smoothly from planning to execution and reporting. It was only when I was exposed to the actual process of evaluation that I was fully able to appreciate that they are complex undertakings requiring not only careful planning, but insightful negotiations, teamwork, and adaptation to dynamic situations.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing a program with a practicum component?  

Practicum components are academically designed to expose students to the work environment while providing an opportunity to learn and practice relevant skills.  For myself, the MHE program was a route of self-discovery, a desire to learn of and contribute to an area that I perceived was a gap in public health practice. I would advise future students to consider their areas of interest and identify where they want to work. It’s important to consider your career path and where you imagine yourself employed in the future when it comes to selecting academic programs. 

Why did you pick this program?  

As a student seeking placement opportunities, it is important to consider the breadth and scope of experience we would be exposed to. As a physician-researcher with a background in public health, my practicum presented the ideal opportunity to combine the world of public health and program evaluation.   

Would you recommend this program?  

I would hands-down recommend this program especially to those planning to train in evaluations. Working in a setting where one can practice technical knowledge and skills on evaluation planning and management alongside a team is a unique learning opportunity. Being exposed to national-level program evaluations and interacting with people in other federal, provincial and possibly, territorial jurisdictions is an invaluable learning experience. Moreover, the PHAC Department is welcoming of students and supportive of learning, capacity building and career planning.