Alumna Story – Cherry Chen
After working for five years as a front-line nurse in cardiac services at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, BC, Cherry was ready to step back and explore her career options. “I was thinking about where I wanted to take my career and I was interested in exploring new possibilities – perhaps moving into administrative or management positions, pursuing a different area of nursing or looking into teaching and research.”
The Master of Health Leadership and Policy in Seniors Care offered the opportunity to spend a year in an accelerated educational program, deepening her hands-on technical skills while expanding her leadership abilities and giving her the time to think about her future goals.
Seeing the big picture
“As a front-line nurse, I found the special topics in nursing course to be very eye-opening,” says Cherry. “In this particular class, we analyzed all the elements of seniors care – not just from the management or admin side, but looking at disease control, quality control and project management – as well as the policy frameworks that provide support. The course gave me a global picture of the elements that need to be in place behind the scenes for health care to run smoothly.”
She says she enjoyed the business and leadership classes, particularly the intense six-week August Bootcamp with its focus on developing core business competencies. “The subject matter was entirely new to me and very interesting. Being exposed to these new concepts has helped me better understand different aspects of health care and broadened my perspectives on other industries as well.”
Cherry also notes that attending a gerontology conference in Montreal and connecting with policymakers and government staff working in the field was a valuable experience, as was meeting with the program advisory team members to talk about their own backgrounds and how they built their careers.
Life after graduation
After completing the program in December 2016, Cherry returned to her position in cardiac services and is taking steps to build on her enhanced skill set as she shifts her career in new directions. She recently trained to take on a co-ordinator position on a casual basis, working with patients in the community to ensure they are receiving appropriate care.
Looking ahead, she plans to take time off to travel and then apply for positions in co-ordination, administration or management.
Practical wisdom consultant and improviser
In whatever position she finds herself, Cherry brings an integrated, patient-centred and quality improvement approach to her work. This philosophy of care is reflected in her unique LinkedIn profile that lists her roles as patient engagement, quality improvement, practical wisdom consultant and improviser.
“’Patient engagement’ speaks for itself: I value my connections with people,” she says. “’Quality improvement’ reflects my interest in changing those things that are within my power to change on the unit. ‘Practical wisdom consultant’ is about how I strive to provide my patients and nursing colleagues with ideas to make things better. And finally, ‘Improviser’ is about innovation. Health care is based on rules and structures that must be followed – which can sometimes limit possibilities. But I see myself as an improviser – able to diverge from the norm, add something new and implement innovative strategies to improve patient care and outcomes.”
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