Image of Jillian during the PHMC program
Jillian Powell completed NWCPHP’s Public Health Management Certificate in 2020. As the program prepares to welcome another cohort this summer, we sat down with Jillian to discuss the program’s impact on her life and career.
What drew you to the Public Health Management Certificate?
I’d worked for several years as a lab technician and then in medical manufacturing, and I decided that I wanted to focus on the more preventative side of public health. I had earned my MPH and was working as an Environmental Health Specialist with Washington County, Oregon. I realized that I wanted to be more of a leader as I enjoy supporting my colleagues and creating structures they can use to succeed. I needed to hone my management skills, and I was fortunate that my supervisor encouraged me to check out the Certificate program.
Can you highlight any significant experiences from the program?
My cohort went through a very unique experience — we started in the fall of 2019, and the following March everything shut down from Covid. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, within weeks I stepped into a supervisory role at work where I was responsible for creating and implementing response systems to the pandemic.
This was a really difficult time for everyone, but it was doubly challenging because I’d never been in a supervisory role before. Fortunately, I got a lot of support from my peers in the Certificate program. Not only was I putting the coursework into immediate practice, I was learning from my fellow scholars who were going through similar experiences. My peers had a huge impact on my mental-emotional health and really improved my day-to-day functioning.
I also received a lot of support from my program mentors, Tom Eversole and Bud Nicola. They’re both great teachers and each of them went out of their way to be available and supportive.
At the end of the program, did you have anything tangible you could show others?
For my final project I created and implemented a mapping and scheduling system for the environmental health department in Washington County. Some inspectors at the county have adopted this system and we’ve seen improved consistency for workers and projects.
I like creating solutions to problems that help people work smarter, not harder. I’m proud of the work I did. It’s great to see procedures I created used to train employees and improve efficiencies across the county.
Beyond advancing your career options, how did the program impact you as a person?
It was really helpful for me to examine my leadership styles. At bottom, that’s about how you relate to others, so learning more about that went beyond work and impacted all my relationships. The program also gave me greater stability and focus, both on who I want to be and what sort of work I’d like to do in the future.
Lastly, I drew a lot of inspiration and encouragement from the projects my fellow scholars were engaged in. There are so many amazing people out there doing great work, and it was really inspiring to witness them in action.
What advice would you give to someone who’s considering this program?
I think if you really want to learn about yourself and create more options and opportunities for your future, then definitely go for it. The certificate is a lot of work and it’s very challenging, but you’ll learn so much about yourself and your peers as you all begin the next section of your careers.
Applications for the 2023–24 program are accepted through May 31, 2023. Learn more and apply today.