Emily Wale

Vancouver Coastal Health
Project Manager, Medical Advisory Committee
Whitehorse, Canada
Vancouver, Canada

What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?

My main responsibilities are to ensure the smooth operations and management of the health authority's medical advisory committee reporting to Vancouver Coastal Health's CEO and Board of Directors. This includes a wide array of duties from running projects, developing governance structures, providing evidence to inform decision-making, liaising with medical leadership and driving change initiatives within medicine at the health authority.

How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?

Within my Masters of Health Administration I had the opportunity to deepen my understanding of the BC Health system and learn from both academic and professional leaders on innovative ways to tackle complex healthcare issues. Since the Masters of Health Administration is uniquely designed for clinicians, managers and researchers who are already working in healthcare, I was able to directly apply what I was learning into 'real world' healthcare delivery to accelerate knowledge translation and my own leadership development.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

I like the functional diversity of work that my role holds; from strategic thinking to stakeholder engagement to project management, no two days are the same! I am treated and viewed as a valuable member of my team and given the autonomy and trust to lead my own workstreams. I do find the slow pace of change resulting in improved patient care outcomes challenging. Since I work on a regional level representing all areas of medicine delivering care to 1.25 million people in the province, the large scope means that the impact of decisions made and work implemented often won't be seen in improved population health outcomes for years to come. Frustration and dwindling motivation can be the result of this. The antidote is surrounding yourself with passionate colleagues, choosing continual progress over perfection, and staying curious in how things can be done better.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

Somewhat. I knew from a young age that I wanted to work in healthcare but thought it would be in a clinical capacity; I didn't know that any healthcare roles existed beyond 'doctor' and 'nurse'! It wasn't until my teenage years working at a locally owned health supplies store in my hometown of Whitehorse, Yukon that I discovered my interest in the business and management aspects of healthcare. Since then, my understanding of the wide range of health administration roles and realization of the need for qualified professionals in this area has only grown, and I suspect I'll continue to have a challenging and fulfilling career. The opportunities in health administration are plentiful.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

I wanted to learn the technical and formalized skillsets of health administration that I had already been exposed to in corporate policy, project management, program management, and management consultancy roles I had held prior to applying for graduate school. UBC's program was appealing to me because I had recently moved to Vancouver and could continue to work fulltime while pursuing my Masters degree.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

I very much enjoyed my cohort of colleagues. We had a good mix of folks with both clinical and professional backgrounds and I learned just as much from them as I did from my professors. I have formed lifelong professional and personal friendships from my time being a UBC graduate student.

How did the graduate degree at UBC help you achieve your career and/or personal development goals?

The breadth of topics covered provided me with a wide exposure to complex healthcare challenges from different perspectives and applied lens'. While I had been exposed to many of these skills individually in previous roles, the Masters of Health Administration (MHA) allowed me to collectively apply these skills with increased complexity, opening up career opportunities to more senior organizational levels and broader scope of role. The MHA program also gave me a clear understanding of my values and style as a leader including my strength and areas of growth.

What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?

Working fulltime in healthcare while pursuing full-time graduate studies during a global pandemic meant that I quickly developed the ability to carve out the next steps path quickly and effectively while building trust and relational connection. I had to regular practice being realistic with work and school productivity timelines, creating space to support my work team, following through on personal commitments, balancing my own wellness and asking for help and leaning on others when I needed it.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

Each of us has a unique set of strengths and a story of our own; graduate school is a great place to apply new learnings and self-reflection to purposely choose the next step and direction towards a fulfilling future career that is right fit for you. Use all the resources and offerings available to you to learn about what your passionate about and what type of work sparks curiosity and lights a desire to drive improvement and make a difference.


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