“I really wasn’t expecting to be in a supervisory role right after graduation,” says Hammond-Collins, who completed the program in 2014. “Really it was just an amazing opportunity that would really kick start my career and allow me to apply what I’ve been learning in my masters”.
Climbing the professional ladder has been quick for Hammond-Collins, which she credits in part to the high standard of professional training and strong connections she made with faculty, fellow students and health professionals while studying at the SPH.
As a graduate of McGill University’s nursing program, Hammond-Collins was seeking a master’s degree that would give her hands-on experience during the program.
“What pulled me to choose the U of S was a combination of the excellent program they offered and the practicum. Having hands-on experience during your studies is really important to prepare you for the work force,” she says.
The SPH has one of a few MPH programs in Canada that offers students a practicum experience.
During a 12-week practicum, Hammond-Collins worked for the Saskatoon Health Region at the West Winds Primary Health Centre. She gained new perspective working alongside public health nurses, assisting with an important research study into breastfeeding rates among new mothers.
“It was a really excellent experience,” she says, adding that this added a qualitative aspect to her research into the barriers and facilitators of breastfeeding
Hammond-Collins said she was excited to be involved in a real, collaborative public health work environment.
“All around me there were working professionals. Outside the waiting room there were patients. I was very much integrated in the work place.”
A month after completing the two-year MPH program with a focus on Biostatistics and Epidemiology in May 2014, Hammond-Collins was employed as public health nursing supervisor with the Prairie North Health Region. She found the job through a connection made at the school’s annual poster fair.
She acknowledges how important connecting with faculty, fellow students and health professionals has been to her success. Some professors continue to keep in contact with her, providing valuable professional and personal support as she continues on her career path. She recommends students take full advantage of the good relationships the school has fostered with health organizations in Saskatchewan and beyond, to build a strong professional network that will last for years to come.
“These relationships you form in a graduate program will help you for many years down the road as you continue in your professional, and personal life,” she says.
Now based in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Hammond-Collins has already advanced in her career to her current position, in which she is juggling the challenges of overseeing multiple programs.
It is an expansive role, but it is one she feels her MPH has prepared her for.
“I feel like my training in public health policy and program evaluation is really useful in a manager role,” she says. “I love being able to work with teams to implement change.”
Hammond-Collins says she had an “amazing experience” as a student with the SPH, with the opportunity to make connections with faculty, the small classes of fellow students with diverse backgrounds, and the chance to be immersed in the community through her practicum.
Written by Jeanette Stewart.