As part of our campaign asking the people of Wales ‘How healthy is your Town’ http://myhealthytown.wao.gov.uk/ we will be taking an inside look at the role Environmental Health Officers play in ensuring our towns, cities and villages are clean and safe to live in. Over the course of the next two months we will follow Environmental health graduates Caryl and Stephen as they train towards becoming fully qualified Practitioners.
It seems strange to be writing about our experiences in Environmental Health having only just graduated in the subject and taking our first steps to become fully qualified Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs).
Nevertheless we hope the series of posts over the forthcoming weeks will provide a useful insight into what it is like for student EHPs to gather experience whilst on our journey to qualification and employment.
First things first, let us introduce us and our experiences.
We are Caryl Jeremiah, 23 from Ammanford and Stephen Williams, 23, from Cardiff. Caryl has had experience of the public sector with summer placements with Ceredigion County Council’s Housing Department, and Cardiff City Council’s Food Safety Department. Stephen had previously completed a 3 month summer placement with Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) Wales, with experience gained through visits in both the public and private sector across all disciplines of Environmental Health.
We both graduated with an Environmental Health degree from Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2013 and are currently working towards becoming registered EHPs. To achieve this we need to complete professional assessments of a written examination, interview and portfolio of our experiences. We aim to achieve this through our placement with the CIEH Wales.
The CIEH is a membership organisation for environmental health professionals living and working in Wales. As a professional, awarding and campaigning body, CIEH collaborates with local authorities, private, public and organisations on environmental and public health and safety matters.
However, CIEH Wales also provides many training opportunities to students and recent graduates (and members) on their path to qualification. One of the main ways this is done is through the Directory of Student Training Opportunities (DSTO). The Directory lists numerous visits and placements across all aspects of Environmental Health in both the public and private sectors across the UK.
We were able to use the DSTO to give us practical working experience and helped complete our portfolios.
In addition to the more traditional aspects of Environmental Health the CIEH has given us the opportunity to participate in several public health initiatives. This has included health promotion at the annual Abergavenny Food Festival.
Another example is working closely with local partners to deliver public health messages at Greenmeadow Community Farm on effective hand washing methods and health lunchboxes.
On top of this we have also gained an insight into policy and strategies through attending meetings, conferences and consultations, as well as putting our skills and knowledge to the test through interactive student training days.
Over the course of the next 2 months, we will be posting a series of blogs. We will be sharing our experiences and topics such as in working within councils, a day in the life of EH, the importance of general public feedback, and challenging some misconceptions about the role of an EH officer.
We look forward to sharing our experiences and hope you enjoy reading!
If you would like to take part in the Wales Audit Office survey you can do so by visiting www.myhealthytown.wao.gov.uk (All contributions are anonymous, you won’t be asked to give your name).
You can also contribute to the conversation around Environmental Health by following our Twitter hashtag #MyHealthyTown or visiting our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/WalesAudit