My public health placement with WHO CC UTS

Lydia Soon Profile

Written by Lydia Soon, UTS Master of Public Health student

I completed my professional placement last year at the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Nursing Midwifery and Health Development at UTS (WHO CC UTS).

This placement aligned well with my interests in maternal child health and workforce development, and I was also seeking something that was flexible enough to accommodate my schedule and full-time job.

With six weeks to complete my placement (due to my work constraints), I thoroughly enjoyed my experience!

Photo courtesy of WHO CC UTS

What kind of projects was I involved with:

On a typical day, I spent my time:

  • researching global nursing specialist competencies and frameworks.
  • building a database of literature and key points to use in future projects.
  • report writing and data analysis of findings into the literature database.
  • preparing abstract submissions – for example, for a palliative care conference and a Vanuatu in-country preparation support.

A key project I worked on was a research task on the vital role of nursing and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to the Western Pacific Region.

I completed a literature search using a range of journal databases and articles to respond to the topic of nursing’s vital role in providing UHC. During that time, I assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the research to date, synthesised key ideas and made recommendations for further research needed.

The skills I’d learned in my Master’s were very useful – I’d researched extensively as part of my course, conducted literature searches and wrote a critical review of the literature addressing a particular health issue. I’d done several in the past year through subjects like Evidence-based Practice and Research in Health, so those subjects were particularly helpful.


What did I learn?

Ultimately, I learned a lot through this placement!

  • I learned that maternal death rates are high within the Western Pacific Region.

Not every country in the Western Pacific Region has the same health workforce resources, compared to developed countries such as Australia and New Zealand. There is a need for capacity building to under-resourced countries to strengthen health and respond to priority health challenges within the region, particularly the high rate of maternal deaths.

  • I also became familiar with WHO Sustainable Development Goals and their implementation across the Western Pacific Region.

How have I kept connected since my placement?

Post-placement, I attended an event in June when the newly appointed regional director of the WHO of Western Pacific Region visited UTS.

I have also recently assisted with drafting the WHO Western Pacific Region policy brief of strengthening the health workforce regulation.

My advice to current and future Public Health students?

If you aren’t already working in a relevant profession, I highly recommend taking the Professional Placement subject.

It was a little challenging at times whilst working full-time, but honestly, it was worth it!

If you’re a full-time employee, consider a placement organisation that is flexible and willing to work around your work schedule. This will depend on each session and the placement organisations available.

I am grateful for the opportunity to experience this placement while still working around my full-time schedule. Ultimately, I was able to complete the placement by doing two days a week for a month, then two full weeks in the second month.


About the application process

If you’re unsure about how to apply, the process is quite straightforward:

1. Each session, the UTS Health placement officer will send an email to all students enrolled in Public Health (and Health Services Management) with the following details for eligible students, who must:

  • be enrolled in the Masters of Public Health or Public Health (Advanced) (or Health Services Management courses),
  • have completed at least 24-48 units of credit,
  • have a Credit Average or above
  • be available for at least 140 hours (4-week equivalent) to complete the placement during the teaching session.

2. From there, you will need to submit an Expression of Interest.

3. If selected, you will sit an initial interview with the placement officer and two staff members. If you are successful and accept the offer, you will be officially enrolled into the placement subject.

4. Once you are enrolled, you will attend a one-day class, apply for your preferred organisations through ‘My Placement’ and finally sit a subsequent interview to ensure you’re the right fit for each other.

Good luck!

Find out more about Public Health at UTS

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