Tony Thepsouvanh had been working as a public health inspector for five years when he began exploring further specialized training.
“I already had my bachelor of science degree and an after degree diploma in environmental health which was a great foundation,” says Thepsouvanh. “But I wanted to further my education, so that I could develop skills and knowledge to help support the work I was already doing.”
Upon advice and encouragement of his regional manager, Thepsouvanh started looking into the master of public health program in environmental and occupational health at the School of Public Health.
“I knew that the School was a leader in public health education, and the reputation of the faculty, instructors and programs were second to none,” explains Thepsouvanh.
Additionally, he was looking for a program that would accommodate his desire to work full-time while completing part-time course work. The School checked all of the boxes.
“It was a unique experience because I had access to professors and instructors who were working on contemporary public health issues that I was working on in my day-to-day job,” says Thepsouvanh. “It made for an incredibly rewarding and positive experience.”
Now, Thepsouvanh is the senior environmental health officer with the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch in Edmonton, Alberta. There, he is responsible for 15 staff who provide environmental public health services to First Nations communities on-reserve in northern Alberta.
His team provides services that focus on fundamental public-health programs such as safe drinking water, safe food, safe housing and air quality. Thepsouvanh’s team is also responsible for emergency response management and played a major role in the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires where First Nations in the area were directly and indirectly impacted.
“Public health doesn’t necessarily change existing conditions overnight,” says Thepsouvanh. “One of the most important lessons I learned at the School was that we are responsible for looking at the health of generations. The work you do today may not translate into immediate results, but if you stick with it and recognize that change takes time, your work will make a difference in generations to come.”
(Last updated July, 2016)