The Master of Health Leadership and Policy in Seniors Care is a unique post-graduate interdisciplinary degree program. Although we are situated in the UBC School of Nursing, we welcome students from a range of backgrounds and programs who are interested in seniors care. This makes for a very diverse cohort of students. The other piece that makes our program unique is our integration of classes in project management, business and communication, which enable students to build their leadership and management expertise.
Students come to our program from many disciplines, having worked as nurses, physicians, dieticians, recreational therapists, physiotherapists and in other professional roles. It makes the seminars exciting: the students learn so much from each other and bring many different perspectives to the issues facing seniors.
Our graduates have been very successful and we take great pride in seeing them fan out into the community at large, putting fresh new ideas into practice across all sectors of the health-care system. Our students are at different stages in their careers, but we see that they are getting the jobs they want — whether that’s moving up the ladder in their area of practice or extending into new areas and taking strong leadership roles.
I’ve been teaching a course on the social epidemiology of aging that is offered in the first term of the program. We look at the social factors influencing the health conditions of our aging populations and the policies we can put in place to make a positive difference in the lives of seniors. Teaching this class is a true joy, and the passion, commitment and intelligence of my students is inspiring.
I’ve been teaching at UBC since 2001, and I conduct research on how to best support the involvement of older people in meaningful activities to promote well-being and engagement, and how we can improve physical and social environments for older populations, especially for individuals with dementia. For example, a program with the Vancouver Parks Board and Vancouver Coastal Health looked at the impacts of seniors’ participation in arts-based activities. Other current projects are seeking ways to improve the lives of people with dementia through physical activity and community participation.
It’s always exciting to find opportunities to bring together research and teaching, and my involvement with the Seniors Care program provides for that. We have an incredible group of students here with a strong sense of community. If you have a passion for — or curiosity about — seniors care, our program offers a dynamic environment and a strong foundation for advancing your career.
Dr. Alison Phinney is a professor and associate director of graduate programs at the UBC School of Nursing. She is a registered nurse and holds an MSc in Nursing from McGill University and a PhD from the University of California at San Francisco. She conducts applied qualitative research focusing on three intersecting topic areas: dementia, meaningful activity and aging. Dr. Phinney uses participatory approaches to foreground the perspectives and lived experiences of older people themselves. The overall aim of her work is to support personhood and social citizenship through improved practices in the health care system and the community at large.
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