MPH student Armghan Ahmad

Practicum yields progress in professional skills

Master of Public Health (MPH) student Armghan Ahmad explains how his summer practicum placement with Alberta Health Services enhanced his knowledge of working as a public health professional. Ahmad is a recipient of the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) funded Dr. James Rossiter MPH Practicum Award.

I have always had an interest in management and administration practices that enhance the wellbeing of citizens. I firmly believe that improving processes in healthcare services can benefit people’s welfare when their health and quality of life is most compromised. Improving processes in healthcare services requires organizational efforts related to access, delivery, and quality. For these reasons, I chose to do my practicum placement with Alberta Health Services (AHS) at Foothills Medical Centre (FMC) in Calgary. One of the goals of the AHS and the FMC is to provide patient and family-centered care through easily-accessible enhanced quality of care.

During my practicum, I learned an enormous amount about patient flow management and patient journeys for various service departments. It helped to boost my knowledge for management of healthcare service access, delivery, and quality. My practicum focused primarily on conducting an inpatient capacity analysis for the FMC. First, I completed an analysis for the FMC administration showing patterns of patient flow within various departments and units. These patterns can be used to assist in situations of surplus demand for hospital beds, and to increase bed availability.

On completion of the analysis, it was recommended that further data from each departmental unit needed to be collected to establish generalizability patterns in supply and demand for hospital beds. This data can be used to predict and estimate patient demand, which in turn can be used to manage patient flow, for example assigning the correct bed to a patient the first time around and reducing patient wait times to bed allocation. I worked with site managers to initiate the data collection needed to inform daily patient flow.  

I also assisted the AHS Strategic Capital Planning team with the FMC Master Site Plan Project. My involvement contributed to appraising the current capacity and infrastructure for future planning of the FMC inpatient services and provided an update on service gaps to support program and future facility planning. The recommendations from the analysis have the potential to improve the health of people and communities in the future.

Overall, the practicum experience has helped me to become a better public health professional and to apply the knowledge and skills I have learned to my future courses and career goals. It has also challenged me to appraise and evaluate my work more critically and insightfully. 

I am very grateful to have received the Dr. James Rossiter MPH Practicum Award to support me during my practicum.  This award encouraged me to pursue my goals, and guided me toward delivering valuable work that is critical to the FMC site and its stakeholders. 

Written by Armghan Ahmad.

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