Feature Article: Celebrating the MPH Class of 2016 with Nandni Khera

Nandni Khera

By Jesica Hurst, BA'14

When Nandni Khera was completing a work placement during her bachelor of science in nursing, she received advice from a colleague that has had a great impact on her career and education choices.

“I remember her telling me how important it is to never stop scaring yourself,” Khera said. “That is a rule that I have consistently followed, because I think you have the opportunity to learn the most when you put yourself into situations outside of your comfort zone.

That mentality has helped guide Khera to take on volunteer roles and work opportunities all over the world, including the Yukon, South Africa and the Cayman Islands.

Partnered with the work experience she had already gained, that mentality also led the young professional to put a demanding career on hold to complete the Master of Public Health (MPH) Program at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

“Even when I was working as a kinesiologist and front-line nurse, I kept thinking about how interested I was in focusing on systemic issues and health policy,” Khera said. “I knew I wanted to complete a master’s degree that would help me pursue that career goal, and the Program at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry checked off all of the boxes for me.”

Khera found out about the MPH Program while she was working in the Cayman Islands as a Patient Care Manager. She sent her father to an information session to gather more details for her.

Khera was intrigued that the program was only 12 months, included a practicum experience and used a case-based method — a learning style she was familiar with, as her husband completed case-based work while completing his education at Ivey Business School.

“A lot of people think you need to travel all over the world to learn, but sometimes there are better experiences right in your backyard.” — Nandni Khera

“I also thought that it was pretty impressive that the Program would be able to bring in health care leaders from the provincial and federal levels of government to speak with our class,” she said. “Those networking opportunities are crucial.”

Khera is now graduating from the Program. A self-proclaimed “forever learner”, Khera said she will feel happy and accomplished while walking across the stage today.

“In that moment, I think I will reflect on how everything I have been working toward has been related to my passion for health care, and every step I’ve taken has opened more and more opportunities for me — this one included,” she said. “My path has never been direct, but I’ve been able to gather so many experiences that have helped me to become a better health care professional.”

Having completed the Program, Khera, who comes from a long line of health care professionals, now feels confident to pursue the kind of leadership roles she has always envisioned herself in. The MPH Program provided her with the opportunity to interview with the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, which led to her new position with the Public Health Agency of Canada in Ottawa. The role is allowing her to make change on a national scale.

For other learners who are interested in pursuing a career in public health, Khera offers that same advice she one received — never stop scaring yourself.

“A lot of people think you need to travel all over the world to learn, but sometimes there are better experiences right in your backyard,” she said. “Continue to learn as much as you can and take part in experiences that get you outside of your comfort zone.”

Khera and her fellow classmates from the MPH Class of 2016 will graduate during Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s School of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies autumn convocation, taking place at 3:00 p.m. on October 28. The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry congratulates Khera and the entire MPH Class of 2016 on their incredible achievements throughout their studies and on their graduation.