Jessie Foster is a former Practicum Student with BC Healthy Communities.
In 2019 the Public Health Association of B.C. (PHABC) boasted its largest Summer School turnout to date, with nearly 200 people in attendance across the western Canadian board. The event, which was held July 4–5, brought together health care professionals to help introduce them to new concepts and themes surrounding public health. Comprised of keynote speakers, presentations and workshops that bring concepts into practice, Summer School equips attendees with learnings that they can practically apply in the public health workplace. The theme this year for the two-day event was Simplifying Complexity, Public Health Approaches and Practice in Complex Systems, which involved adaptive systems and how they can inform population-level intervention. Representatives from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the Yukon were all remotely present during the presentations.
Project Coordinator Christina Harding has been organizing the event for the past three years and says the attendance only continues to increase and that people are leaving more inspired each year. The focus is on networking professionals across the board for indispensable time to discuss new relevant topics that can be explained through complex adaptive systems and significant themes in public health.
“We want to be able to create healthy public policy that goes beyond B.C. and can go across Canada. So by having this summer school and being able to network people all together, we’re helping create this change that’s just growing and growing, which is really cool to see,” says Harding.
There were professional speakers with expertise in four subcategories; systems and security, health equity, immunization and infectious disease control, and overdose response and safe supplies.
PHABC’s overarching goal within the coming years is to bring Summer School to every province across Canada, including the territories. They are aiming big, and hoping to empower other public health associations, supporting them to leverage the progress that PHABC has already made in developing the Summer School format.
“Everything we do, the effects ripple across the entire system and so if we know that this happens we’re more conscious about how our policies are affecting everything. We’re able to create more effective policies and overcome certain public health crises in a better manner, a more holistic manner and hopefully effect more positive change than we would before without this kind of theme,” says Harding.