When Laila Ahmed became restless while working as a dental hygienist, she decided she wanted to go back to school and find a program that would interest her. What she didn’t know was that her program of choice would take her on a new adventure outside of her home province.
Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Ahmed attended the University of Alberta and graduated in 2010 with a BSc in Dental Hygiene specializing in Oral Pathology. She then worked as a dental hygienist and as a research associate for four years before deciding she needed a change.
“I found out about public health and it seemed to fit everything I was looking for,” Ahmed explained. “I had been in the private field for too long and […] I needed to help those who weren’t as well off and felt like public health would fulfil that.”
When Ahmed was making the decision about what school to attend, she did a lot of research, comparing a few and weighing the pros and cons. However, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s Master of Public Health Program kept landing on top — even though it meant she would have to move to another province.
“I wanted to have new experiences, and I needed to explore part of the world on my own,” she said. “Once I got onto the Master of Public Health page on Schulich’s website, I knew that it was for me.”
“It beat out everything my province was offering me.”
Ahmed also found that she could apply her previous dentistry knowledge to the MPH Program by focusing on dental public health and enhancing her knowledge in prevention, education and policy-making. She explained that many people unfortunately do not have access to dental services, so she is trying to understand her role, as a public health provider, with this in mind.
When asked about what she loves most about studying at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Ahmed explained it comes down to two things: the MPH Program’s case-study learning method and the faculty’s open-door policy.
“I’m absolutely in love with the case-study learning method approach. We review the cases within our assigned teams and discuss them in class the next day,” she said, adding that listening to her classmates talk about their own personal experiences has been “eye-opening,” and she has learned a lot just by listening to their stories.
“The other thing I love about Schulich is the open-door policy most professors offer,” she said. “In my undergrad years, it was nearly impossible to schedule a time with our professors, but now we run into each other in the hallway, in-between classes, after classes — pretty much all of the time.”
Even though Ahmed knew that moving to a new place would be a big change, and that the one-year Master of Public Health program would be intensive, she knows she made the right decision.
“If I were to do it all over again, I would choose Schulich in a heartbeat.”