Students & Young Professionals Committee – PHAA
The PHAA’s nine month mentoring program unites experienced public health professionals (mentors) with early career PHAA members (mentees) who have similar interest areas. The program aims to build the capacity of mentees, provide experience in mentorship to public health professionals, and offer valuable networking opportunities.
Shayal Prasad, of the Students & Young Professionals in Public Health Committee, discusses the National Mentoring Program with 2021 mentee Serena Booy, a Public Health Policy Intern at International Needs Australia, and an Integrative Health Practitioner at Pacific Integrative Care.
Q: Where/what did you study at university, and/or what is your professional background in?
A: I undertook a Bachelor of Complementary Medicine through Endeavour College of Natural Health (Brisbane), Postgraduate studies in International Health and Development through Tabor/Adelaide University/Flinders University (Adelaide), followed a Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health (Cairns/Townsville). My professional background is in International Health and Development (16 years field experience along with an additional 4+ years online work).
Q: Which PHAA branch/special interest group are you part of?
A: I am part of the Queensland PHAA branch with special interest groups being Complementary Medicine and International Health.
Q: What does your current role involve, and what is the current project/report you are working on?
A: I started an online business (Pacific Integrative Health) in 2018, as an extension of my work in International Health and Development. This is ongoing, I have been involved in some online consultancy work. I have just established a second business (Pacific Integrative Care), that is centered around health promotion, Lifestyle and Complementary Medicine approached to priority health areas within Public Health.
I am also involved in a Public Health Policy internship with International Needs Australia, working on Maternal and Child Health.
Additional projects I am currently working in include projects centered around Indigenous homelessness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Far North Queensland.
Q: Why did you to apply to the mentoring program?
A: The idea of being able to learn from others, not only in the public health space, but more specifically within my chosen areas of interest was very appealing to me. As someone entering unchartered waters, I really felt it would be good to be able to glean from someone more experienced.
Q: What stage of your career/study were you at when you applied and participated in the program?
A: I applied for and became involved in the National Mentoring Program while I was working part-time and in my final semester of my Postgraduate studies in Public Health.
Q: What did you gain or learn from participating in the mentoring program?
A: Having an opportunity to engage with someone more specialized in public health taught me several things. Lessons I learnt included:
- Be active in seeking out opportunities
- You are better to do something than nothing at all
- I learnt the value of volunteering, networking, and making a positive contribution to public health where possible
- Seeing knockbacks as an opportunity for growth. An example could be receiving a knockback back from an employer, gaining feedback [and] actively investing in strengthening those areas
- Step up, upskill and be relevant to the market/field that you are in
As a result of the National Mentoring Program, I believe I have gained greater self-confidence, an ability to accept setbacks and keep moving forward. I have gained valuable exposure to a network of people and a better understanding of my chosen field through learning directly from individuals currently working in this space.
Q: What elements of the program stood out to you?
A: The ability of PHAA to match mentors and mentees and the support and learning opportunities provided by PHAA through career event webinars, and ongoing support.
Q: From your perspective as a mentee what advice do you have for prospective mentees interested in applying?
A: Applying for an opportunity to be involved in the PHAA National Mentoring Program provides mentees with a unique opportunity to engage with public health professionals who have trod the path they are looking at walking. Whether someone is exploring possible pathways within public health, at the beginning of a public health career or transitioning from one career into the public health workforce, having someone to talk to is such an asset and worthwhile experience.
I would encourage anyone thinking about entering the public health workforce to take advantage of the Public Health National Mentoring Program 2022.
Q: What’s next in your public health career?
A: I have been working in the international health and development sector for over 20 years and I am passionate about remaining in this space. I am currently doing a public health policy internship, looking at public health policy (Maternal and Child Health) in developing countries.
I have recently taken on a role of Health Educator, educating in the maternal and child health space.
I am about to launch my second business, that addresses public health priority areas, such as mental health and antimicrobial resistance, using a combined approach of Lifestyle Medicine and Complementary Medicine.
About the PHAA National Mentoring Program
The PHAA National Mentoring Program coordinates and facilitates the pairing of PHAA members early in their public health career with experienced members in the mentees area of interest.
The program runs over the course of nine months and primarily functions to initiate a mentee-mentor relationship. The program is purposely flexible in design to allow mentees and mentors to work together in identifying the mentoring needs of the mentee and develop corresponding objectives for the mentee-mentor relationship over the duration of the program.
The program aims to build the capacity of early career members of the PHAA through teaching, training, networking, and providing them with appropriate resources. The PHAA National Mentoring Program will accept up to 30 mentee-mentor pairs in 2022.
Mentee Program Benefits
- Guidance and advice regarding your career ideas, helping you make more informed career choices
- Opportunity to meet a public health professional with experience in your area of interest
- Advice on resources relevant to your area of interest
- Enhanced professional development and increased confidence