Testimonial - PHDA, Jackson Flagg

How did you learn about the program and what motivated you to enroll?

I was looking at programs that were more data-oriented because my data skills were not quite high enough to get a good data-centric job. So, while I was finishing my MA, I figure PHDA would serve me well. Plus, the tuition was much lower because I was a student!

Tell us about your course experience. What skills did you develop and which courses provided the greatest benefit to you?

I found the Working with Administrative Data (PHDA 01) was a good course. It was less intensive and slower paced than the other PHDA courses. I took this course last because of my time frame for completing four courses. It would probably have been better to take this course earlier on.  The Population Health and GIS (PHDA 03) course was the most interesting course I took. The labs were easy to follow and I enjoyed the final project.  When I first enrolled in the program, I thought that PHDA 01 and PHDA 03 would be the most valuable courses for my skill development but in the end it was the Health Evaluation and Program Monitoring (PHDA 06) course that really helped me land a job after graduation. PHDA 06 was different from the other PHDA courses. It felt a bit like a satellite course in the program as it included a health evaluation project rather than data analysis lab work. I learned a lot from the peer review process we used.

How have you been able to (or how do you plan to) apply your new skills in your work/research?

I just started working after graduation, but so far, I have applied evaluation skills that I learned from the Health Evaluation and Program Monitoring (PHDA 06), including logic models, evaluation methodology, gantt charts and interview guides. My current role, as an Evaluation Lead, will also include some data analysis, so the Working with Administrative Data (PHDA 01) and Epidemiological Statistics (PHDA 02) courses will be helpful for that too.

What do you think were the strengths of this program? Please provide examples.

I think the BC-specific focus is the main strength. I came out understanding more about the data available to help with BC-specific health policy. Perhaps, this doesn’t help attracting students outside of BC, but is great for our province’s capacity for good health decision making.

Would you recommend this program to others? If so, what recommendations/suggestions would you give those interested in applying to this program?

I have recommended this program to others. However, I also warned them that it was a lot of work – especially Epidemiological Statistics (PHDA 02). I think my estimated hours per week for this course were at least 15.  I also found the group work in PHDA 02 more time consuming than the other PHDA courses.  The work in the Secure Research Training Lab (SRTL) can also increase the amount of time you need to spend on the courses depending on group work or your knowledge of the subject matter.


Jackson Flagg, Evaluation Lead