EXTRA: Executive Training Program exceeding my expectations

by Amy Riske, Director, Care and Community, Health and Social Services, Government of Yukon | 10 Dec, 2018

Last year, when my Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) suggested that our health and social service department was looking to support a team to be part of the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement’s (CFHI) EXTRA: Executive Training Program, my immediate thought was (insert self pity voice here), ”I can’t possibly add something else to my workload...I already did my masters…surely this could wait until next year, when there is less change.” Of course, my outward response was, “Wow, what an amazing opportunity – thank you!”

Joking aside, and despite initial reservations based on workload, the EXTRA program has exceeded all my expectations. The program has provided tremendous learning opportunities that have been, and will continue to be, of great benefit to me personally, to the team I am working with, and for the rest of the healthcare system we work in. I have also had the fantastic opportunity to connect with amazing people, both within my ‘home’ team and from across the country. Despite our regional differences and the so-called ‘local flavour’ of each health system, I’m impressed by the dedication of the other EXTRA teams to tackle the common challenges we all seem to be facing. I have even had the side benefit of being invited for a site visit to another area to see first-hand how they are applying their improvement project to a challenge that we are also facing (next project already!).

Before I carry-on extolling the excellent attributes of the EXTRA program, I do have to disclose my bias for experiential learning, which EXTRA strongly emphasizes. Over twenty years ago, I was trained in problem-based learning (physiotherapy) at McMaster University, so experiential learning is not new to me and it is most certainly my preferred kind of learning. That said, I was still somewhat skeptical about what exactly executive level experiential learning would look and feel like. In our fast-paced, pressured daily work lives, how would the structure of this program support the learning I needed, in addition to the execution of a relevant quality improvement program? The EXTRA program structure does achieve this through a variety of methodologies. In addition to the experiential aspects, there is a blend of self study, didactic and interactive residencies and a team coach. All these elements combine to support teams and strike the fine balance of creating excitement for project’s progress, as well as relevant learning that is immediately applicable to a variety of aspects of healthcare executive work.

So despite my initial misgivings, I am incredibly grateful to have this opportunity and so glad I didn’t miss out on it. To be perfectly frank, it is a lot of work, but not for a moment has the effort felt futile or wasted. Thank you!

Learn more about Yukon Health and Social Services and Yukon Hospital Corporation’s improvement project.

Health and Social Services (YK)/ Yukon Hospital Corporation (YK)

Dallas Smith, Amy Riske, Laura Salmon and Stefanie Ralph from the Health and Social Services (YK)/Yukon Hospital Corporation (YK) Cohort 14 EXTRA team.

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