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Alumnus Q and A

MPH alumnus Chijioke Nwankwo tells us about himself.

Where are you from originally?
I am originally from Anambra state in Nigeria but I have been living in Saskatoon, Canada since 2013.

What is your educational background?
I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in medicine and surgery (MBBS) from the College of Medicine, University of Lagos (2009). I also recently completed my Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree from the School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan (2015).

What brought you to the U of S, and the MPH program specifically?
Prior to my involvement in rural care as a practicing family physician, I truthfully underestimated the importance of public health and preventive care. My impression then was that public health and preventive care were not as important as the practice of acute care. Rural medical practice was my "aha" moment. It was then I saw the need to further my public health skills so as to better complement the clinical work I was doing as an acute care physician. At the time, the MPH program at the U of S was gathering a strong reputation back home (Nigeria) as a valuable educational choice, where one could attain high quality public health skills and training at one of the most innovative programs and at a competitive cost when compared anywhere else in the world. I am happy to say the School lived up to and exceeded my expectations.

What was your experience as a student of the School like?
To be honest, the high rigour and academic demands of the MPH program surprised me and my colleagues at first. Every single day is academically intense and a worthy learning experience is provided to students from the start of the program with the foundation's course and culminating at the end of the program with the capstone course. However, despite the rigors of the MPH program, I really enjoyed every moment of my time there. The knowledge gained, friendships started and memories made all worked out for a fruitful overall experience.

Tell us a bit about your research with the SPH:
I have been fortunate to be involved in a number of highly successful research collaborations with Dr. John Moraros and other faculty and students at the School of Public Health. With Dr. George Mutwiri as the Interim Executive Director, the research environment in the School has grown by leaps and bounds; it is very supportive and highly productive. It is fun to see how everything we learnt in the classroom can be used and then applied to answer real life problems. To date, my research endeavours in the School run the gamut of significant public health issues and interests. They include research themes such as: determining the predictors of health literacy of students on campus and identifying how health literacy affects access to healthcare; assessing patterns of smoking Initiation among Canadian immigrants; investigating the effects of antidepressant use and the risk of cognitive impairment / dementia; assessing weight loss intervention adherence and factors promoting adherence; Lean interventions in healthcare; HPV vaccine uptake in Canada; impact of targeted tobacco marketing among adolescent females; and, looking into the effect of tuition hikes and financial stress on the mental health of university students.

How did your MPH training prepare you to better understand real-world issues in your research?
The MPH program at the U of S is well-rounded, comprehensive and rigorous. The range of courses offered and high academic standards ensure that at the completion of the MPH program, each graduate has the requisite skill set to operate optimally in a vast array of career paths and professional settings. I am also very excited about the newly offered Thesis stream in the MPH program. This is a great opportunity for highly motivated students to engage in high quality public health research that will be meaningful in improving the quality of life for our local and global community. The future looks very bright for the School and its students.

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