Deena Hinshaw received her master of public health degree in 2008 while completing her public health and preventive medicine residency from the University of Alberta. Hinshaw knew she wanted to specialize in public health and preventive medicine because she was interested in preventing illness and disease before a patient needed care.
For her, the MPH program was a natural complement to the clinical skills she obtained in medical school, so it became part of her training.
“An MPH is similar to medical school in that both provide you the basics and foundations you need,” says Hinshaw. “Through my MPH, I was able to receive a firm understanding of the foundations of public health, from mathematical skills to people skills. My residency training then provided the opportunity to exercise these skills in a setting of graduated responsibility to become a public health and preventive medicine specialist.”
Now, Hinshaw is chief medical officer of health with Alberta Health and is also an associate clinical professor with the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta. In her role with Alberta Health, she is responsible for monitoring the health of Albertans and making recommendations on measures to protect and promote the health of the public, and to prevent disease and injury.
While the majority of doctors see one patient at a time, Hinshaw views the population as her patient.
“By specializing in public health and preventive medicine I am able to take the individual patient stories, observe patterns where we may be able to intervene and, ultimately, make a difference for the whole population,” explains Hinshaw. “It is similar to the art of pointillism where artists use little dots that eventually connect, showing the bigger picture.”
(Last updated February, 2019)