UBC MEL MHLP Professional Leadership Master Degrees

Clinical Education, Agata Stanielewicz

Alumna Story - Agata Stanielewicz

Clinical Education, Agata Stanielewicz

People decide to go back to school for many reasons. For Agata Stanielewicz, a social worker who had worked for 10 years in acute care and intensive care units, it was the desire to stretch herself in new ways.

“I wanted to expand my knowledge and skill set, and to learn from other health care professionals about innovative ways to improve the system,” she says.

“As frontline staff, there are always things that concern you, although you may not be in a position to change them. I wanted to set aside the time and space to look at these issues at both the micro and macro level, and to take the opportunity to learn the skills I would need to contribute to positive change.”

Of all the master’s programs she explored, UBC’s Master of Health Leadership and Policy (MHLP) stood out for its one-year full-time option and because it offered a more hands-on experience than the research focus of other degrees.

An interdisciplinary education

Students in the MHLP in Clinical Education program take courses on the theoretical foundations of clinical education, curriculum development, evidence-based practices, leadership in nursing, and health policy.

Having worked as a field instructor teaching social work students during their practicums, Agata found many points of connection with these courses. “I loved delving into theories and practice of how we learn the way we do, and how that differs from individual to individual. It encouraged me to be mindful about how to improve my own teaching practice and the strategies I use so that others can learn from me.”

For her four-month practicum, Agata worked with the Provincial Health Services Authority on a project linking patient experiences and accreditation. “The province uses a dynamic analysis and reporting tool that tracks patient survey results in real time,” she explains. “I developed and facilitated education sessions to work with staff across the health care authority to highlight how the tool could be used for both day-to-day practice and in support of accreditation initiatives to improve patient experiences.”

The MHLP in Clinical Education is an interdisciplinary degree that includes health care courses taught through the School of Nursing and business and leadership courses taught through UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School.

A first term course on organizational leadership course was particularly memorable.

“It provided an opportunity to reflect on past experiences in the workplace and to understand how different leadership styles contributed to that,” she says “The class was fantastic – it felt like a natural conversation where people could bring their real-world experiences to the discussion.”

Leading a team of social workers

Agata is currently working as a Clinical Practice Leader at Fraser Health Authority. In this role, she is supervising a team social workers, facilitating education, ensuring practice standards are met, working on guiding protocols for how the department will evolve, helping with hiring, and implementing quality improvement initiatives. She recently started a patient experience project to make sure that person-centred care is at the forefront of all interactions within the emergency departments.

It’s a job that integrates her frontline experience with the clinical education and business knowledge she’s gained during the program. “The MHLP emphasized the power of collaboration for finding innovative ways to improve day-to-day practice. I bring that commitment to collaboration and transparency to my work and the relationships I am building with my staff. I want to make sure people are comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns and feel psychologically safe to do so.”

In January 2024, Agata will continue her work at Fraser Health while also teaching a course as an adjunct professor at UBC in the School of Social Work. She says she’ll be using the knowledge she gained on curriculum development to identify areas to enhance the curriculum and ensure her teaching strategies meet the needs of all learners.

“I am excited about the opportunity to empower and learn from other health care professionals when teaching this course – about hearing about their goals and finding ways to work together to make sure their goals are met,” she says. “And of course, ensuring that the safety piece is in place so they have a positive academic

Take the steps to join the next cohort of healthcare leaders. If you haven’t already, assess your eligibility and sign up for the upcoming information session to learn how to submit a strong application. Learn more about this innovative master’s program: