"Everything we do in healthcare has an impact on the environment and vice versa, which is why we want to contribute towards cultural change in healthcare and greener practices."
Nikko Asistio & Arlene Singh
- Degree: Master of Health and Leadership Policy
- Grad year: 2020
- Program: Clinical Education
- Campus: Vancouver
Nikko is a Clinical Operations Manager in Fraser Health Authority, overseeing two Urgent Primary Care Centres in the lower mainland. With an extensive background in healthcare leadership, Nikko seeks out opportunities that will promote the accessibility and betterment of the healthcare system in BC. During his down time, he takes advantage of the amazing scenic hikes located around Vancouver.
Arlene is a Clinical Planner for Virtual Health with Vancouver Coastal Health. She has been supporting the digital transformation of the health care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. Arlene has 8 years of experience working as an emergency nurse in the lower mainland. She also spent a year working abroad at a startup hospital in the Middle East. When returning home from her time abroad, Arlene began exploring opportunities in education and taught for BCIT and UBC's nursing programs. She is passionate about health care innovation and challenging the status quo. In her free time Arlene enjoys hiking, skiing and traveling.
Why did you choose to go into your field of study at UBC?
We looked at other programs, however, what stood out most with this master’s degree was that it was a hybrid program focused on both the clinical components of healthcare and business classes offered through the Sauder School of Business. We outweighed the pros and cons of distance education versus in-class and decided upon the in-class method of delivery. Ultimately, we recognized the value of in-person interactions between professors and students, and felt it aligned more with both our styles of learning.
What has made your time at UBC memorable?
One of the most memorable courses we took was a six-week class on business acumen for technical leaders — this was an intensive series of lectures that required the students to learn and apply fundamentals of business management such as strategy, finance and accounting, operations, entrepreneurship and marketing. This program was a unique opportunity to collaborate with professionals from both healthcare and engineering sectors. The diversity and array of perspectives contributed to richer discussions and more expansive learning.
What has been your most valuable non-academic experience studying at UBC?
Nikko and Arlene were both members of the Executive Committee and through this experience they developed lasting friendships with other peers. They loved being a part of the UBC community, being able to access the beautiful facilities at the Point Grey campus and taking advantage of going for hikes, skiing or snowboarding after classes.
Tell us about your experience in your program. What have you learned that is most valuable?
The program was very fast paced. After learning the course content, we would be expected to put together a report and deliver presentations either the same day or the next class. This required assembling a functioning team, learning each other’s strengths and collaborating to develop a high-quality deliverable.
The ability to form a team is an invaluable skill to develop. Very much like the real world, you need to be open-minded, adaptable, manage your time well and, most importantly collaborate, with team members.
The presentations that we were required to deliver in front of our peers and professors helped us develop the confidence to effectively run meetings and deliver presentations in our current work settings.
How are you applying the skills you learned through your studies at UBC?
For Nikko, the business courses were tremendously helpful in accelerating his knowledge to effectively run the operations of two healthcare centres. From creating project charters and developing workflow processes to managing financial budgets, the technical courses equipped him with the tools he need to be a successful in his current role.
Arlene utilized concepts from her courses in entrepreneurship and innovation to advance herself in a field within healthcare that was relatively foreign and underdeveloped. Now a Clinical Lead in Vancouver Coastal Health's Virtual Health team, Arlene is paving the way for integrating virtual methods for individuals to access health care in the Coastal region. Her skills obtained from Project Management and Organizational Leadership have allowed to stay on track with the various projects that she is implementing.
What advice would you give a student entering your degree program?
We encourage students to analyze their goals and network with program alumni to determine if it aligns with what they are wanting to get out of a master’s program. There are several programs available - think about your ideal job and research what the companies or organizations are looking for. Review the program’s outline and evaluate whether the courses offered correlate with your aspirations.
How do you feel your degree has benefitted you compared to a different field of study?
This degree program helped us develop a macro perspective and understand all of the different moving parts that occur as an organization strives to achieve its strategic goals. It is difficult to compare this program with other healthcare-related master’s programs, however, we felt extremely lucky and privileged to be a part of the first cohort of the MHLP:CE program. Without a doubt, this program equips professionals with the knowledge and tools to excel as leaders within healthcare.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Arlene and Nikko love to travel. They appreciate the ability to explore and experience other cultures around the world which provide an extremely humbling experience that stimulates their creativity.
What are your immediate and/or long-term plans for the future?
Both Arlene and Nikko are continuing to develop their leadership within the current roles they are in. They look forward to being able to travel again, once all the travel regulations and safety concerns have been lifted. For the foreseeable future, both are dedicated to the projects they are currently working on, but plan to continue pursuing opportunities to utilize and exercise the skills they learned in the program.
What are your future plans to make a difference in our world?
While leading change within healthcare, we wish to promote sustainability practices within the healthcare sector. It’s all about the health of our community now and the health of communities in future generations. Everything we do in healthcare has an impact on the environment and vice versa, which is why we want to contribute towards cultural change in healthcare and greener practices.