Clinical Education, Vivien Wong
Alumna Story - Vivien Wong
Vivien Wong began her career as a registered nurse in acute medicine. Inspired by a dedicated mentor, Margurite Wong, she moved into research work. Vivien became part of a research team that completed a knowledge translation project for acute care nurses. She then moved to a position at BC Cancer where she was a Clinical Trials Nurse Coordinator, implementing projects across five different departments and leading a team of 15 multidisciplinary team members.
“I was in a leadership role at work and I wanted to learn how to become a better leader within the health-care context,” she says.
“I chose the MHLP for its ability to deepen both professional skills in health care as well as develop the skills to be a more effective leader. I was also interested in the MHLP because of my interest in mentorship. I have benefited greatly from my relationships with mentors, as well as my work mentoring nursing students and recent graduates.”
A solid grounding in health care and leadership
“Elizabeth Bailey’s course on the theoretical foundations of clinical education reinforced the importance of clearly outlining my own teaching, philosophy, mission and values,” says Vivien.
“By developing my own teaching philosophy statement, I reflected on my background, assumptions, views on education and other factors that shape my interactions with others. Elizabeth also encouraged us to be ‘curious for longer.’ I have taken that to heart when facing difficult conversations or situations. Staying curious for longer, gaining more context, asking more questions can help move things move forward respectfully.”
For her practicum, Vivien developed a toolkit to address a much-needed challenge in the health-care sector: preventing nurse burnout. “I worked with two amazing people – Maura MacPhee and Farinaz Havaei – who have done a lot of research on this topic and from there developed a toolkit to support health-care leaders.”
Through important connections, Vivien was introduced to Laura Gurney, who invited her to present her toolkit at the Nursing Practice & Education Council. She subsequently published her work as a co-author of the paper Implementation of the synergy tool: A potential intervention to relieve health care worker burnout in the International Journal of Environmental Research on Public Health.
About half of the MHLP curriculum consists of business and leadership classes taught through UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School. A course on organizational behaviour and human resources that touched on psychological safety and shared governance stood out.
“There are strategies you can use to create inclusivity and a collective voice,” says Vivien. “We can do things to create psychologically safe environments for teams to have the space to share their opinions and speak up.”
Vivien also found the project management course to be very useful. “We created Gantt charts and communication matrices, and learned about project management processes that are crucial to ensuring smooth logistics in the health-care workflow. I use these tools in my current role.”
Excelling as a health-care leader
Vivien is now working as a Clinical Planner for the Regional Mental Health and Substance Use Program, helping create a brand new clinic and model of care at an urban and rural site within Vancouver Coastal Health, with eventual plans to roll out the concept across the health care authority.
The clinic is still in the early planning stage, and Vivien is currently working with the team to hire new staff and create new learning modules, protocols, processes and procedures.
Vivien says the MHLP in Clinical Education broadened her perspective and gave her more confidence. “In health care, I see two sides to leadership: the one that focuses on logistics and workflow processes, and then the other that focuses on people,” she says.
“We need leaders who have both sets of skills, and the MHLP program helps you develop both sides. The program enabled me to take the time to consider how I work best as a leader and how I can build relational connections with my team.”
She encourages other health-care professionals to consider the program as a way to find their leadership voices.
“One piece of advice I’d give to all future MHLP candidates is that if you’re interested in developing your leadership skills and bringing more confidence to your work, the MHLP is the program for you. It’s such an enriching experience, and the lasting connections you make and the skills you gain can propel you in your leadership journey.”
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