Student Experience – Sulo Veettil
Sulo Veettil chose the Master of Health Leadership and Policy in Clinical Education to gain the academic credentials and technical and business skills needed to move into leadership positions. She tells us about her experience of the program – including juggling the demands of family and part-time work – and her hopes for the future.
Why did you choose the MHLP in Clinical Education?
I moved to Canada from Dubai 13 years ago leaving a coordinator position, and worked my way up in the nursing profession. I started my career as a porter at Burnaby Hospital and then continuously upgraded my skills to take on new positions, working most recently as a registered psychiatric nurse in a unit supervisor position (vacation relief) at Providence Health Care. I realized I still wanted to keep expanding my knowledge in both my technical specialization and in teaching and leadership. When I learned about the MHLP, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to acquire new skills in technologies and methodologies, as well as in management. I also knew that having a master’s degree would improve my standing in a competitive job market.
Tell us about your experience of the business and technical classes.
I had managed a clinic without any formal management or leadership training, so I was eager to take the MHLP business courses to boost my management skills. I particularly enjoyed the Business Acumen for Technical Leaders class, which was a very intense but worthwhile experience that focused on six core business competencies.
The technical classes on clinical education have also been great. I particularly enjoyed a course taught by Kathy O’Flynn-Magee on nursing education theory. She spent time each class talking to us about self care, which I found very inspiring and I will use in my daily life and career.
What was your practicum like?
My practicum was completed at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, working with the professional director of professional practice to develop a Competency Assessment Planning & Evaluation tool. I had never worked in a forensic environment, so this was a huge learning curve for me, requiring me to do additional self-guided research and training from the National Health Service in Scotland. This practicum experience represents the beauty of the MHLP program as it allowed me to put together all the skills I’ve been developing over the year and lead the project and develop a core competency for forensic nurses.
What’s your life like outside of school?
Busy! I have a nine-year-old daughter who keeps me very busy with her tremendous energy and curiosity. My husband works full time in Sechelt and was only able to visit us biweekly. I live in Surrey, so there were long commutes to and from school, and I continued to work on a casual basis of between 20 and 35 hours a week at Burnaby Hospital and as a mental health clinician over the year.
I am good at managing my time and planning ahead, and my background in psychiatric nursing helps me motivate myself. I think if you have determination and zeal, you can achieve what you want.
Were you involved in any activities outside of class?
I volunteered as a financial director for GSNA (Graduate Student Nursing Association) and helped plan a symposium. This was an opportunity to connect with other nursing professionals who are continuing their education in Master of Nursing and and PhD programs, as well as with scholars in the nursing field.
Any advice for others thinking of pursuing an MHLP?
The MHLP is great at developing your leadership and nursing skills and for making academic and career connections. It’s all up to you to make the most of it and know where you want to invest in your time. This was also a good opportunity for me to meet and study alongside people from 25 different countries and with students from other industries – the business courses bring together students in the MHLP and Master of Engineering Leadership, so you are learning with people who have engineering backgrounds. The program definitely equips you to be an innovative nurse leader.
I’m looking for a higher-level leadership position that will allow me to apply what I’ve learned. I’ve already applied for jobs that require a master’s degree – we’ll have to see what happens!