Seniors Care — Elizabeth Matthews
Alumna Story — Elizabeth Matthews
Six months after graduating with a professional master’s degree from UBC, Elizabeth Matthews was hired as a Transition Services Coordinator at Vancouver Coastal Health. Since then, she’s continued to advance into positions of increasing responsibility, and in August 2020 was appointed Team Lead for a department at St. Paul’s Hospital, where she will oversee transition services.
Elizabeth came to the Master of Health Leadership and Policy (MHLP) program with eight years of experience as a registered nurse, originally as a bedside nurse and then in operating rooms after she completed specialized training. She evaluated many master’s options before choosing the MHLP, and ultimately chose the degree for its unique interdisciplinary curriculum compared to traditional graduate programs. The one-year length and concentration of courses over two days a week were also selling points, enabling Elizabeth to work part-time while going to school.
“The MHLP expanded my clinical knowledge to include issues faced by our aging population as well as the dynamics of community care,” she says. “And it also introduced me to concepts of leadership, project management and other business issues. The Transition Services Coordinator position enabled me to integrate my past clinical experience with the new knowledge I developed in both the clinical and business classes.”
In her role as Transition Services Coordinator, Elizabeth did discharge planning and worked with community teams to make sure appropriate plans were in place for clients leaving the hospital. That involved collaborating with occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dieticians, the nursing team and physicians to conduct assessments for what supports clients needed to have in place to safely return home or an alternative setting.
Just over a year later she accepted a Clinical Resource Nurse position, where her responsibilities evolved to include supporting colleagues in an educator role. More recently, Elizabeth was appointed Team Lead.
“I’m now more involved in strategic planning and looking at how to decrease admission stays when people are medically stable. As I work out of St. Paul’s, much of that involves collaborating with the housing team to support clients with what they want and need.”
Looking back two-and-a-half years after graduating, Elizabeth says the master’s degree put her on a path to achieving her career goals.
“The MHLP provided direction for me to move forward and I think expedited my career progression,” she says. “The unique interdisciplary nature of the degree has been very helpful. It really solidified and built on the knowledge I had from nursing and introduced me to important concepts in project management, leadership and communication that I use in my work. It was helpful to move beyond a focus on technical skills to see the big picture – to learn how to prioritize the goals you are trying to achieve within a project or program and then how to work within your context to reach those goals.”
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