Megan Janecka

Master of Public Health student

Megan Janeka

How did you find your practicum? 

I wanted a practicum that was unique while also offering government experience. I was aware of the obvious choices, such as Health Canada and PHAC, and it was through research into the work of specific teams at these bodies that I found the Health Sciences team at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Funnily enough, I had posted an open-ended question on a Federal Reddit group simply asking for advice on how to secure a federal practicum, and an employee of the CNSC – who is in a quilting club with my current supervisor – connected me with the team that I’m on today. If she hadn’t taken time out of her day to provide me, a stranger on the internet, with resources, I may never have found such a perfect practicum for myself. What I take from this is that it’s never a bad idea to get creative with where you look for leads. 

What projects are you working on in your practicum?

I’m currently working on an updated literature review of epidemiology studies of radiation and cancer for a report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Radiation (UNSCEAR). I’m only reviewing studies of occupational radiation exposures, but the report will include studies of cancer among survivors of the atomic bombings in Japan, patients treated with radiation, populations exposed in nuclear accidents, and public radiation exposures. This report will summarize the latest epidemiology studies on the effects of radiation, to inform global radiation protection. 

I’ve also been given the opportunity to contribute to activities with CNSC’s Women in Science, Engineering and Math (WISTEM), which is an initiative that promotes the balanced participation of women in STEM careers at the CNSC and in broader nuclear and science communities. The values and culture that WISTEM promotes has completely elevated my standards in terms of the kind of workplace support and representation I’ll look for in organizations in the future. 

What is the highlight of your practicum? 

The highlight of my practicum has been experiencing what inter-professional collaboration really looks like in an applied setting. In the nuclear industry, it is impossible to do one job without consideration for how the entire system is impacted, and as a result, there are so many opportunities for specialists to expand their role. 

What have you learned that will help you in the future? 

I learned about the nuclear regulatory process. I learned how the regulator holds nuclear companies accountable on sensitive issues such as nuclear waste, environmental and health protection and Indigenous rights. I learned how health research is shared globally across institutions, and how it informs regulations. I learned what transparency in public health and environmental protection actually requires behind-the-scenes to be authentic and effective.