In 2021, McGill Desautels launched its Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management in collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, a unique opportunity for leaders in the healthcare field to receive formal managerial training and learn from renowned McGill professors. As the inaugural cohort embarks on its final module, hear from current students about their experience in the program.

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background.

My name is Dr. Britanie Belanger. I’ve been a chiropractor practicing in Ontario for just over eight years now. I’ve been practicing in various settings, but all of the different clinics have been multidisciplinary healthcare settings, where I’m working shoulder to shoulder with other allied health professionals and physicians. For six of those eight years, I’ve also been in a clinic director or clinic manager, depending on what company you’re working for. Currently, I’ve been with Lifemark Health Group, one of the largest multidisciplinary rehab clinics in Ontario, for the past four years as the clinic director. I’m based out of Sudbury, and I love it. I came back from my maternity leave in March of 2022, so I’ve been back in action for about four months now, but during my mat leave is really when I started to really think about where I wanted my career trajectory to go. That’s what led me to the GCHM info sessions with Dr. Leslie Breitner, and then ultimately, to me applying and then being accepted to the program.

Tell me a little bit about what you were looking for when you were looking for different trainings, and what ultimately stood out to you about our program here at McGill.

A couple things. I think a) when you’re in the healthcare setting, it’s humbling because you don’t know what you don’t know, if that makes sense. I can speak for myself in the multidisciplinary community-based rehab setting, because I’ve been in this space for about eight years, where a lot of people are put into these roles of management or director where it’s really heavy into operations management, and quality improvement. It’s just kind of like sink or swim, you’re not given any formal training, you’re not given any really formal mentorship, you just go. For me, I really started to identify that to take it to the next level, both to ultimately benefit our patients and then also to take me to the next level from a career perspective, I needed formal training. So, my first step was really finding a program that was from a reputable world-renowned university. McGill checks the box on that. First and foremost is I wanted to make sure that I was getting formal education from a world class facility. Number two to that is, being in Northern Ontario and being a mother of two young children, it was not an option for me to travel to University of Toronto, or to McMaster, or to all these other universities that have similar programs, that’s just not reasonable in the season of my life. So, number two was the fact that it was 100% a virtual offering. And then the number three factor was that when I actually went to the info session with Dr. Breitner, about a year ago, it really excited me because a lot of the courses that they were talking about; operations management, financial management, quality improvement, these are all things I do in my day to day, flying by the seat of my pants, with no formal training. That was really big to me, going to that info session, it was like, ‘Ah, yes, I see this in my day to day, it’ll be great now to get formal training, knowledge, skill sets from real world individuals that are using these tools in the real world.’

What were some of your hopes and expectations going to the program as to what you would be able to get out of this experience?

First and foremost, knowledge. Knowledge to be able to really level up the offerings of health care to our patients, both from a quality improvement perspective, delivering more efficient, effective health care and having tools to be able to do that. I think that I have been given that. Then number two, career advancement. Having a Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management from Desautels, from McGill, that does stand out on a CV.

Now that you’ve experienced quite a bit of the program, what has been your favorite part of the experience so far?

The structure of the program has been honestly wonderful, it’s been so engaging. I did have a hesitancy in participating in a 100% virtual offering, just from an engagement perspective. We’ve all been in those Teams meetings for like a day or an hour long, and they feel like they were five hours long and your eyes are bleeding. The offering, it’s a real mix of breakout sessions, it’s very engaging. The profs are very engaging with the content. It’s not just all didactic and them mindlessly teaching to you. It’s very dynamic. They encourage discussion, they encourage really an open forum and it’s really a two-way street with both the professors and the students. I feel like the day flies by in a good way. I’m energized as opposed to drained.

How has the GCHM impacted the way that you run your clinic, and how have you been able to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to your role day to day?

I go back to the sentence; you don’t know what you don’t know. A lot of the tools that I’ve used [have come from this program], as an example, from the very first module, I started using a strategy map. I’d never heard of a strategy map before. There are all these tools that I had never been exposed to that I’ve been able to take and apply to real world problems in my clinic. Whereas before, it would have just been like, ‘Okay, let’s just try to figure this out,’ you know, with whatever innovative tools but having actual tools from this program to be able to take and apply to problems, or to apply to maximize efficiencies or quality improvement has been huge.

I’ve been able to do to it for quality improvement in actually going through a process map. Mapping out a patient journey, identifying where there’s waste in the system, identifying where there was bottlenecks, and being able to then really get to the root cause of why is the bottleneck there using, for example, the five why’s and then really develop a solution to address those issues. This with the ultimate goal to maximize patient flow and efficiency of care. That’s been really big in my clinic, actually having concrete tools to be able to address issues as opposed to you know, in the past, it’s just been, for example, at our monthly meetings or our weekly meetings, a vent session. Now it’s actually okay, ‘Yes, you can vent but now let’s put pen to paper,’ and we have the tools to actually address this.

Is there a piece of advice that you would offer somebody who is maybe considering the program, but a little bit on the fence about whether or not to proceed?

A; Obviously, attend an info session, but B; I know that Leslie’s been allowing some individuals that are thinking about taking the program to sit in on an hour or two of the program on a specific day, just to kind of get a better sense of what the program’s like, I think I’ve seen a couple people do that. I think that that would be helpful as well, just to see a real-world idea of what you’re getting into.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about this experience that you think is important to speak to?

There can be hesitancy you know, when you’re taking a program, even if it’s from a reputable university, in that this is the first offering, but I feel like overall it’s been a great experience. I know a lot of my colleagues are seriously considering, myself included, using this as the steppingstone into the International Master’s for Health Leadership. I think that that is a great way as well, for people that see the IMHL on the McGill website, and aren’t ready to commit to that, to get started. It’s like the GCHM is almost like the appetizer and that can be then applied towards the IMHL, [because your credits would count towards that program]. I think that’s a really great steppingstone into that master’s program.

GCHM Program

The McGill Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management is a joint initiative between the McGill Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Desautels Faculty of Management. The GCHM is an 8-month, 15-credit graduate certificate program which takes place entirely online.

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