Let curiosity and passion lead the way. A nurse's journey to system-wide impact and better older adult care

"Be curious and open-minded, humble yet confident, patient but proactive: You are ready for many amazing things!"

UBC MHLP Graduate Margaret Lin smiles for the camera while seated in front of a grey backdrop

Margaret Lin

  • Degree: Master of Health and Leadership Policy
  • Grad year: 2022
  • Program: Seniors Care
  • Campus: Vancouver

As a young girl I loved listening to my grandparents’ stories. I stumbled upon nursing because I want to help people, and found I especially enjoyed working with older adults and supporting them to live their lives to the fullest. After my nursing bachelor's at McGill University, I worked in the hospitalist medicine unit at Vancouver General Hospital alongside passionate colleagues. When working on the frontline, I noticed how complex and important it is to have a healthcare system that empowers healthcare providers, patients, and families. I realized that there are still many things I don’t know, and I need to equip myself with more knowledge to be able to help more. My reflection and the kind encouragement from people around led me to work as a research assistant in IDEA Lab, and brought me to my graduate study with the MHLP Seniors Care Program. Before graduating from the program, I started working my current Project Lead role at Fraser Health Authority. I collaborate with a wide variety of stakeholders throughout the region to promote proactive and systemic initiatives that empower healthcare providers, older adults, and community organizations. I’m now working on integrating social prescribing and electronic Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment into the health system, and I am very excited about them every day!

Why did you choose to go into your field of study at UBC? 

I wanted a comprehensive yet practical program where I could explore different topics related to geriatric healthcare, and learn solid skills that can be applied right away. The MHLP Seniors Care program's hybrid structure of nursing and business courses stood out for me, and I was curious to learn how this knowledge could be combined to drive a potentially bigger impact.

What has made your time at UBC memorable? 

The people. I was inspired every day as I was able to study with many like-minded people from different specialities, be it classmates, teachers, or guest speakers. Whether in healthcare or engineering (MEL), everyone was passionate and hopeful about improving something. I learned from my classmates as much as from my courses. Everyone was from different walks of life, and they all had unique perspectives and expertise to share. It’s amazing to be able to work, learn and have fun with them. Hearing from many guest speakers during and outside of lessons was also extremely valuable, and helped me gain industry insight.

Tell us about your experience in your program. What have you learned that is most valuable? 

The knowledge I gained through classes, projects, classmates, and guest speakers helped me understand the complexity of geriatric health, the healthcare system, and change management. Time management was another extremely valuable skill I learned. I was a Seniors Care Student VP, a research assistant with an active project, and then a newly-started project manager —all while studying full-time. I never knew I could handle this much knowledge, challenges, and workload, but I do not regret one bit because I grew exponentially and 2021 became one of the most exciting years of my life. I also learned that I am not alone in my passion and that changes can happen if you are willing to learn, be understanding, have patience, and collaborate.

A screenshot of a published paper in which MHLP graduate Marrgaret Lin contributed
Margaret's most recent published research paper from 2021 interdisciplinary research project with IDEA Lab

What advice would you give a student entering your degree program? 

Stay curious and challenge yourself. Use this year as your opportunity to explore new topics and make new friends. If there is an opportunity for learning, approach it and try it out, even if it might be things you are unfamiliar with. Try to step outside of your comfort zone but remember to perform self care! Still make time to relax and spend time with your family and friends if possible. You will be surprised how much you can achieve and how many invaluable relationships you can form in one year.

Where do you find your inspiration for using your degree to make an impact on our world? 

My inspiration to help others comes from many people around me: family, friends, mentors, colleagues, and previous patients. 

Dr. Lillian Hung at UBC IDEA Lab and Dr. Grace Park at Fraser Health are both inspiring mentors who opened a new world of geriatric health for me. Their passion for empowering more older adults through multi-disciplinary collaboration and innovative initiatives inspires me to learn more and support their wonderful work. Their continuous encouragement and guidance on geriatric healthcare and life, in general, give me the courage to make a difference step by step. They also demonstrated how one can engage many people to join you in the impact you wish to make if you show passion, knowledge, understanding, and patience.

The love and understanding from my family and friends helped me survive through the busy year, and always remind me to share my knowledge and passion to help more people. I want to make healthcare more accessible and empower more older adults, including my family and friends.

Many of today’s jobs did not exist 10 years ago, and we do not know for certain what the workforce will look like 10 years from now. How did your studies in the Faculty of Applied Science prepare you for the future of work?

Technical skills can be learned and can change with time; soft skills can be learned and stays regardless of specialty, time, and location. A concept in project management also stated that many people think project management is the ability to use many tools to keep the project on track, while project management is really about working with people. The MHLP program sharpened many of my practical skills, but most importantly it allowed me many opportunities to practice soft skills including multi-disciplinary teamwork, work with diverse perspectives, mediating conflicting opinions, advocating for a cause, thinking outside the box, critical analysis, presenting for a different purpose, networking with others and time management. I believe with continuous learning and non-stop curiosity, I will still be able to contribute my knowledge for the aging population for many more years to come!

What are some contributions you would like to make when it comes to the future of work in your field?

I wish to continue to empower older adults, their families and healthcare providers. This can be through education, awareness-raising, research and structural change. I want to highlight to more people the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration through my research and work because the future requires us to work together and share our knowledge effectively, instead of working in silos or competing with each other. We need more people who care about others and are willing to make a connection with each other, and a system that supports this collaboration.

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