Initiatives to Foster Early Engagement in the Next Generation of the Public||Health Workforce

Background: Established by undergraduate students, the McMaster Public Health Association (MPHA) aims to provide resources and opportunities to undergraduates in order to foster early awareness and involvement within public health. With support from the new Master of Public Health program at McMaster, and provincial and national organizations, MPHA has become the first club of its kind in Canada. MPHA is now working with student leaders across the province to organize the first undergraduate level conference focused on early student engagement in public health. Objectives: ●Assess the perspectives of undergraduate students on the benefits of early engagement in public health ●Provide a framework for other institutions to inspire early engagement of students in public health ●Discuss obstacles faced Methods: A questionnaire with closed and open ended questions will be completed online by students attending the conference in 2017. The qualitative data collected will be analyzed using NVivo and the quantitative data using R statistical software. This study will seek ethics approval from McMaster University. Additionally, a guide will also be created to distribute to other institutions interested in creating an association to foster early engagement in the next generation of public health leaders. This guide will include a comprehensive review of how to start an undergraduate association, gain recognition from national public health associations and ideas for activities and events to engage students. Results: Descriptive results and themes, as well as the guide will be available to present in April 2017 at the WCPH conference. Keywords: community engagement, capacity building, partnerships, education, advocacy Key Messages: 1. A new guide on how to start a student public health association in collaboration with national public health authorities 2. Data obtained from conference questionnaires will provide new students' perspectives on early engagement in public health and gauge their knowledge on the field. 3. This research will provide new information on what students think about the roles that student-run university organizations can play in the future in terms of guidance for public health careers, data collection, education, and building meaningful partnerships. The results will provide the framework for future initiatives that hope to foster early student engagement.

Tishya Parikh

McMaster University

I am a 4th year undergraduate student in the Arts and Science Program at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. I am also the co-founder and co-president of the McMaster Public Health Association. I am interested in public and global health, as well as, community development and engagement.