When Megan Wisnowski accepted a new position with Alberta Health Services as Director of Pharmacy Services for the South Zone, she was eager to learn to facilitate change to help improve the health system in a meaningful way.
That’s why she jumped at the chance to participate in the University of Alberta School of Public Health Fellowship Program in Health System Improvement. To her delight, Megan was selected to participate in the program last year.
“I wanted to really be able to understand the health system within the Canadian context,” said Megan. “At the most basic level, Canadians aren’t healthy when we are measured against other countries. We need to behave differently to get different results. That takes courageous leadership and a willingness to transform ourselves. An awesome system does not guarantee healthy people.”
The fellowship program offers an innovative response to Canada’s health system and the need for leaders who can bring about the transformative change required to improve its performance. The program is presented in five modules ranging from system thinking and leadership to developing a quality culture to system transformation.
Intended for current leaders and senior managers in health systems, the program runs over five weekends between September 2018 and May 2019, with two weekends held in Banff and the remaining three in Edmonton. Participants will experience peer learning in small groups, support from an experienced health system mentor, and inspiration from guest speakers.
For Megan, it was an opportunity to learn with individuals from across the health system and discover new ways of thinking.
“The reality of health care is that we work in silos,” said Megan. “It’s not the norm for government, front-line providers, professional colleges, and academics to work together on a day-to-day basis with the intent of improving health. Even in school, we learn how to work in silos and, after we graduate, we are expected to know how to work in teams. We aren’t good at it yet. The program really supported learning across the spectrum.”
Megan was one of three pharmacists who participated in the program last year. She feels it’s important that the profession is represented within the fellowship.
“Based on our accessibility and practice framework in Alberta, pharmacy professionals are situated to be change agents in support of healthy communities,” she said. “The program will help you figure out how to take those next steps, have the courage to make change, and give you a group of colleagues you can lean on for support.”
Participating gave Megan the confidence to look for opportunities to partner with communities, and an appreciation for how the actions and decisions of her organization and profession impact health. She’s also learned to be more patient when building teams and partnerships. Because of what she’s gained, Megan encourages other pharmacy professionals to apply.
“Just try it! You will not be disappointed,” Megan said. “It’s an investment in yourself. You will build some amazing connections and get a bird’s eye view of the health system that will yield new perspectives to help you grow personally and professionally.”
A more detailed description of the program is available here.