Jessica Hill

Public Health Professional

Master of Public Health (MPH), Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc Hons.)

What are the roles and responsibilities in your current position?

There are a few roles and responsibilities I carry as I walk my own path. As a public health professional, I have a strong passion for empowering First Nations communities/individuals to take stock over their journey towards health and wellness. Giving First Nations a voice at strategic and decision-making tables is a step closer in creating system-level changes to improve health outcomes for First Nations populations. It’s important to me that I also carry a responsibility to my culture and how I walk along this path with humility and respect of the diverse First Nations cultures I work with. An important role I exercise while in my profession is bringing the two-eyed seeing approach as my foundation. This is where one eye sees the strengths of First Nations knowledge and ways of knowing, and the other sees strengths of westernized approaches. In my current role, I work with First Nations communities to provide guidance and support in public health planning, reporting/evaluation transformation, and emergency preparedness, to name a few. These supports create space for communities to decolonize certain processes and place community values and priorities at the forefront of their actions.

What barriers did you have to overcome to succeed?

In my experiences, I’ve worked in community-based settings and at the provincial levels which has opened my eyes to the complexities and barriers for First Nations people accessing health care. One of the bigger challenges for First Nations individuals and families accessing the health system is the widespread systemic racism and discrimination. These systems are rooted and shaped from colonial beliefs and laws/legislation. Currently, there are numerous cultural safety training programs available to health professionals that are annual ‘check-box’ practices. One solution I am focused on is creating tools and resources to facilitate these training programs as an ongoing in-house practice for health professionals. Another solution is working with provincial and health system partners to advocate for stronger cultural safety, sensitivity, and humility practices within educational institutions. With most wicked problems, this must be addressed at all levels of health care and involve multi-pronged approaches including legislation reform.

What is your advice for healthcare students?

Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams and not to under estimate yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in your own mind. Just breathe and remember who you are and why you deserve to be there.

Working in health care can be humbling and rewarding. At the end of the day, if you make a difference in one person’s life, you are making positive change.

Let yourself be okay with asking for help – use mentorship opportunities as they can lead to so many open doors.

Contact Jessica for more information on her professional field and support!
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