Written by Helen Chiang
Health care constitutes a major part of government decision making and plays a crucial role in maintaining the wellbeing of citizens. In Canada, where we enjoy broad public health care coverage, health care is mainly regulated at the provincial level of the government. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) carries the responsibility to “establish a patient-focused, results-driven, integrated and sustainable publicly funded health system.” In striving to achieve this goal, the MOHLTC runs various programs and services that ensure quality care for patients, training and support for heath care professionals, and funding for researchers in the health sciences.
Given the significant affiliation between our university and the University Health Network, most of us already work closely with health care professionals and patients as part of our research projects. Whether it be collecting data for a clinical trial or examining tissue biopsies, we are heavily involved in the research aspect of health care. For those of us who desire to steer away from research but still maintain a tie to the health care system, there are several agencies under the MOHLTC that offer career opportunities which may be of interest to people with a Science background. Below are the general profiles of several health care related agencies and examples of current job openings within each agency.
Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) is an operational service agency of government, serving to improve cancer services and acts as the government’s cancer advisor. It governs the distribution of funding to hospitals and cancer care providers, implements cancer prevention and screening programs, develops improvements and standards, monitors and plans cancer services, and transfers new technology into clinical practice. Currently, there are numerous career opportunities listed on their website, such as Data Analyst (Access to Care Informatics) and Research Associate (Screening Evaluation and Reporting).
Health Quality Ontario (HQO) is an independent agency funded by the MOHLTC and carries the mandate of monitoring and reporting the quality of the health care system, supporting continuous quality improvement in that system, and promoting health care that is supported by strong scientific evidence.
The Evidence Development and Standards division conducts evidence-based analyses to evaluate the safety, efficacy, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of various medical interventions. These analyses are performed by HQO staff that include clinical epidemiologists, medical information officers, and medical editors. Currently, related vacant positions include Project Coordinator and Clinical Epidemiologist (both under Evidence Development and Standards).
There are 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) that work closely with local health providers and community members to determine the health service priorities in a specific region of Ontario. These not-for-profit organizations plan, integrate and fund local health services, such as hospitals, mental health and addictions services, and community health centers. Current positions open across Ontario include:
- Health Outcomes Analyst (Central LHIN)
- Project Manager – Clinical Programs of Excellence (Mississauga/Halton LHIN)
- Senior Consultant – Health System Integration, Design and Development (Toronto Central LHIN)
Public Health Ontario (PHO) was created following the SARS outbreak in 2003, when several high profile reports recommended the government of Ontario to create a public health agency.
PHO is a government agency (formerly the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion) that provides “expert scientific and technical advice and support on communicable diseases, infection prevention and control; surveillance and epidemiology; health promotion; chronic disease and injury prevention; environmental and occupational health; and emergency preparedness and incident response.” It operates the public health laboratories, and is involved in research, professional development and knowledge services.
Current job opportunities include Epidemiologist (Communicable Disease Prevention and Control), Infection Prevention Control Specialist (Infection Prevention and Control), and Scientist – Epidemiology, Public Health Sciences (Communicable and Infectious Diseases).