Miriam Klassen

Medical Officer of Health, Perth District Health Unit

Miriam Klassen

Career change: from people care to population care

As a physician at a small practice in Ontario for over a decade, Miriam Klassen always felt drawn towards health policy. When the position of Medical Officer of Health at the Perth District Health unit became available, Miriam decided to make a career change that allowed her to shift her work from one-on-one health care provision to a position that addresses broader population health issues.

The experience she had gained as a physician was invaluable as she navigated her new role, but Miriam decided to focus her knowledge and understanding by pursuing a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Waterloo. As well as its outstanding reputation, the option to take online coursework-based classes allowed her to continue developing her new full-time career, balance family life, and study towards her professional Master’s.

Leadership and inspiration 

Miriam gained a new perspective of leadership throughout the course which she was able to apply to her Medical Officer of Health role. She appreciated the opportunity to develop the skill of working with others across disciplines, as public health work often occurs horizontally through partnerships and collaboration. The two-week foundation component at the start of the program not only allows students to meet each other face-to-face, but also welcomes guest speakers.  These public health experts provided Miriam with some of the most inspirational insights during the program, which she still draws upon in her daily life.

Miriam attributes the program as having given her a solid foundation in population health and health systems, which coupled with her experience in medicine and passion for public health, has really helped her achieve new heights in her career. 

Happy with where she finds her career now, she summarizes what it is that drives her;

you can really make changes for an entire generation

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