A one-day retreat designed for Clinical Leads put them in touch with each other and provided new tools and tips to help them lead for success.
Ask Clinical Lead (CL) Maya Majmudar what she loves doing, she’ll say it’s organizing, planning and looking after the details. Those skills are definitely an asset in her 40+ years as an Occupational Therapist and last 13 as a Clinical Lead. They also made her the perfect candidate to lead the planning for VHA’s second Clinical Lead Retreat, held in November.
Although they are deeply embedded in every functional unit across VHA, the organization’s 31 Clinical Leads tend to work in isolation. Each professional area, whether it’s OT, Physio, Dietary, Nursing, Speech Therapy, Social Work or ADP, depends on the expertise and management skills of the Clinical Leads. They provide orientation and training of new hires and support their teams through complex client conferences, clinical problem-solving and ongoing peer support. “Watching the new hires grow and develop confidence in their abilities is one of the most rewarding parts of our job,” says Maya.
It doesn’t stop there. Clinical Leads also maintain their own caseloads of clients and deliver hands-on care. With their fingers on the pulse of so many parts of the organization, it’s no surprise that Maya calls the Clinical Leads “the bridge between management and the point of care team”.
Cultivating the talent within our own walls
For inspiration in developing the retreat, the committee turned to a familiar place: their own staff. “We talked to staff and asked what they wanted to learn about,” says Maya. “We knew this had to be a meaningful experience.” Across the many voices of the Clinical Leads, there were some common themes – they wanted advice on time management; how to give helpful and effective feedback; and how to empower their people.
With that input, a roadmap was developed for what would be the unifying theme for the day – Leading for Success. Fortunately, they didn’t have to look far for talented people to address those themes. “Within our own walls, we have incredible wisdom and expertise!” says Maya. Their first call was to Amit Ambegaonkar, who works for VHA as a Physiotherapist and Clinical Lead, and is also a leadership coach, certified success trainer and sought-after professional speaker.
Messages of inspiration and practical advice
With his lived experience on the job, Amit used a combination of video, a special booklet of advice for Clinical Leads, and his own compelling personality to deliver a message that was both practical and inspirational, touching on problem-solving, teamwork and mindfulness. “He didn’t hold back on the importance of creating a strong connection with your team and building the confidence of your new recruits,” says Maya.
Amit’s impact wasn’t lost on supervisor and Professional Practice Specialist Catherine Chater, who observed, “His talk sparked a renewed inspiration for us all to lead from a place of excellence and admiration.”
As they juggle numerous responsibilities, finding enough time in the day is an ongoing challenge for Clinical Leads. Delegates were uplifted to learn from their Clinical Lead colleague Punita Laurier that they shouldn’t try to do it all. Punita’s advice was to make a list of the 10 things you want to do, narrow it down to 5 and then focus on your top 3. “Her main takeaway was, don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to do too much,” said Maya.
For managers and employees, performance reviews can be one of the toughest aspects of the job. The external speaker for the day, innovation and change management specialist Lee-Anne McAlear, told them to consider the whole person and make the circle of connections between their strengths and weaknesses. “Lee-Anne stressed the best way to make staff feel valued is to focus on strengths and let them know they’re being seen and understood.”
A chance to rekindle old friendships
Part of what makes VHA such a unique organization is the abundance of training opportunities. “Continuous learning is an integral part of the VHA culture. The Learning Calendar is always full and the training sessions are continuously being upgraded,” says Maya. This retreat was a great addition to that because of the opportunity to connect face-to-face and to network with each other. They held a dinner the night before and several ice-breakers during the event. “We rarely meet face-to-face so it was great to see the new Clinical Leads and talk to those who came in to Toronto from Ottawa and London,” said Maya.
In a note to the organizing committee, Catherine praised them for an event that “knocked it out of the park”. “Your CL work reverberates throughout this organization and has had such impact on the lives of clients, colleagues and the leadership of VHA.”
Hats off to the fabulous organizing committee who left no stone unturned in creating this impactful experience for the entire team: Maya Majmudar, Amanda Selk, Harpreet Buttar, Julie Jerred, Amit Ambegaonkar, Betty Yu, Punita Laurier!