Feature: Learning the art of tackling the wicked

By Jennifer Parraga, BA'93

“I’m excited to be working on wicked problems,” said Prtha Kudesia, MPH Class of 2020. “Our group and class discussions are so multifaceted and there are so many perspectives to consider, it just excites and inspires me to learn more.”

Developing skills to tackle “wicked” problems is just one in a long list of personal and professional growth opportunities the future public health leader has focused on throughout her studies in the Master of Public Health Program.

“I’ve been building on the art of active listening, mediation and leadership,” she said. “And I’m grateful to the Program and my peers who have provided me with the space and support to do so.”

Kudesia was raised in Ottawa, the big sister to a brother who she has cherished watching grow and mature through many stages of life.

Growing up, school was always her top priority. Dancing, swimming and badminton were common distractions for the studious student, who loved to learn.

Kudesia says that the seeds of her interest in health and public health have been sown throughout her life. She recalls travelling to India to visit family, and witnessing the many public health hardships people encountered on a daily basis. Even as a young child, she realized the socioeconomic and health care disparities between the lives of her family and her own.

Fast forward to her undergraduate studies, Kudesia established a chapter of the Canadian Association for Research in Regenerative Medicine, a not-for-profit organization that advances and promotes the importance of research in regenerative medicine and fundraises for local stem cell research, pursuing her interest in health. She also began to explore clinical research, specifically the implications of anxiety and depression on clinical health outcomes in orthopaedic surgery.

She began to notice a trend to her interests and how they centred on complex issues in patient experiences and their health outcomes. It was then that she thought about pursuing a master’s degree in public health, believing that it would provide her a broader skill set to actually begin to work on some of the problems.

Her research on different programs kept bringing her back to Western’s 12-month, case-based program. “I found Western’s to be the most unique and team focused, and that really appealed to me,” she said.

It didn’t take Kudesia long to realize she had made the right choice.

Kudesia admits that it is an intensive program and that managing the workload can take on a life of its own, but she stresses that it’s worth it.

“My team and I are constantly deliberating, and it’s so collaborative and respectful,” she said. “The courses integrate well and relate back to systems thinking, the faculty are supportive, treating you like you are family, and the program pushes you to reflect and to work on your strengths and weaknesses.”

Once complete, Kudesia will be transitioning to a job as a health care consultant. She will be working at the junction between management and health care, focusing on how stakeholders manage delivery and access to care, and help optimize patient experiences.

She feels prepared to begin her career in public health.

“Western has given me the tools that I need to carry over into a workplace,” she said. “The program offers a great environment to experiment with skill development and to hone your professional, communication and leadership skills.”

“I’m excited for what’s next.”