Kristie Cocotis on mentoring the next generation of Public Health professionals

Cartoon image of two people on a call. Public Health Association of Australia logo. Text: 'A mentor experience... National Mentoring Program 2023.'

Students & Young Professionals in Public Health (SYPPH) Committee – PHAA

The PHAA’s nine month mentoring program aims to unite experienced public health professionals (mentors) and early career PHAA members (mentees) with 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.

The SYPPH committee asked Kristie Cocotis about her experiences as a program mentor.

A Q&A profile of Kristie Cocotis

Q: What is your professional background in?

A: I’ve been working in public health/health promotion for almost 20 years. I initially studied biomedical science, and then afterwards decided I was much more interested in population health and moved straight into completing a Master of Public Health. My career has focused on improving health equity. I have particular interests in gender and women’s health, and my career has largely been focused on non-communicable conditions.


Q: Which PHAA Branch or Special Interest Group (SIG) are you part of?

A: I recently joined PHAA Victoria Branch, and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion SIG.


Q: What does your current role involve, and what is the current project/report you are working on?

A: I am the Head of Prevention and Health Promotion at Diabetes Victoria.


Q: Why did you apply to the mentoring program?

A: I have a strong affinity for mentoring generally. I’ve participated in other mentoring programs and very much enjoy it. I enjoy being able to support the next generation of public health practitioners. It’s a program that I wish would have existed when I was a new graduate. I learn so much from the program too!


A Q&A on Kristie Cocotis’ mentor experience

Q: What stage of your career/study were you at when you applied and participated in the program?

A: I had moved into a senior leadership role when I applied to be a mentor.


Q: What did you gain or learn from participating in the mentoring program?

A: The mentoring program is helpful in working on coaching and listening skills. It’s been helpful for taking the time out to reflect and to consider where the public health sector is. The person I was paired with was still studying so I also enjoyed hearing about what they were currently studying and learning.


Q: What elements of the program stood out to you?

A: It was a very easy process. The mentoring objectives form kept us on track and focused, and although we were flexible with it, it was often helpful to refer back to.


Q: From your perspective as a mentor, what advice do you have for prospective mentors/mentees interested in applying?

A: I’d highly recommend it. It’s a nice way to connect with another public health practitioner and take a little bit of time out to learn from each other, and develop and work on some goals together. Practical advice would be to make sure the next catch up is always booked in before you end your current catch up as time flies by. It’s easy to forget to schedule it otherwise.


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, who, where possible, work in the mentees’ area of interest.

The program runs over the course of nine months and primarily functions as a way 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 40 mentee-mentor pairs in 2023.


Mentor Program Benefits

  • Opportunity to facilitate the mentee’s professional growth
  • Revitalized enthusiasm and affirmation of your role as an experienced worker
  • Networking opportunities
  • Gain experience in explaining the scope and skills of your work to others


More program participants share their experiences

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