When pandemics break out, people become increasingly more afraid of their shadows and any germs that could be lurking in them.

Help combat public fear by researching a career as an environmental health officer, formerly known as a public health inspector, at Concordia University College.

“Every time there is an outbreak of something, people get concerned,” says Dr. Karen McDonald, director of the environmental health after-degree program at Concordia University College.

EHOs have the dirty task of inspecting the ins and outs of many public facilities to unsure they are up to health standards.

Places like food service outlets and hotels are among the most frequented by EHOs, but places like hospitals, tattoo shops, hair salons and daycares are also high up on the list.

“Any place you take for granted that should be clean, they have been there,” says McDonald.

Even the seal lion pool at West Edmonton Mall has its own environmental health officer.
At Concordia, this after-degree program takes students who already possess a degree in the core sciences and gives them the knowledge to work in the public health sector.

“Our students are coming in with a good undergraduate degree and leaving with a career,” says McDonald.

This course differs from the other four institutions in the country that offer it in that it is a one-year intensive course instead of the typical two-year program.

In what is the only program of its kind in Alberta, students spend 12 months with in-class training and three months in the field.

Students learn how to assess and monitor health of communities and populations at risk, act to control the spread of infectious disease, and identify health risks, among many other tasks.

Upon completion of their training, students are able to write the national exam to become an EHO.

“Everything in the program is related to the career,” says McDonald. “There are no fluff courses.”

The demand for EHOs is high across Canada, and McDonald does not expect it to decrease any time soon.

With a September and May intake into the program, prospective students can find more information at envirohealth.concordia.ab.ca.