Thank you for an amazing 10 years
I still remember when I started working at the College and trying to learn the ropes of professional regulation. I was looking for experience in nonprofit and law and the College was a perfect fit. I thought I wanted to go to law school but within a year of working in professional regulation I realized that I didn’t want to specialize in one area. Instead I was much more fulfilled being a generalist and having the opportunity to work on many different projects in different capacities such as board governance, relationship building, program development and evaluation, policy development, and people development. This same diversity exists in opticianry (health, business and fashion), which has made it even more enjoyable to work with all of you.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of learning from so many people and getting to work with diverse groups – opticians, regulators, educators, patient groups, government, different professions, and other provincial organizations. Trying to collaborate with different groups of people to work on modernizing regulation in Canada to continuously improve patient outcomes came with many challenges and opportunities that we didn’t even realize was possible. Working through those experiences has taught me the following over the years that I wanted to share with you in my last article:
1) Choose kindness over being right
As a young leader, I had ambitious dreams for the College and placed high standards on myself and others. I would point out mistakes or correct people when I thought they were wrong. However over the years, I realized that this sometimes resulted in unnecessary conflict and didn’t necessary get as much out of an interaction as desired. Compassion and kindness are much more effective strategies to reach goals. When the goal is to build people up, to make them feel better, to share in their joy, this creates a positivity that propels the willingness of people to work together and to innovate. Peaceful interactions leave all parties feeling good and this is much more useful especially when working through challenging situations.
2) Change is hard but people are resilient and just need help
I worked on leading significant changes for the College such as a new continuing competency program that is being implemented in most provinces in Canada, removing barriers to labor mobility for international applicants, and committing to indigenous cultural safety and humility. Our brain has a natural defense mechanism that is wired to protect us taking risks and may automatically resist change as a result. Change is usually uncomfortable and can take some time to figure out how to adapt. Everyone I have worked with has struggled with change at some point but with the help and support of others, I have seen many people overcome the challenge. Change is beautiful when people are brave enough to embrace it. I have been so inspired at the resilience and the inner strength of people.
3) Get all the help you can get and be ruthlessly collaborative
None of the changes I worked on to modernize regulation would have been possible without the help of my team, volunteers, registrants, contractors, and stakeholders involved. We are all in this together and anything is possible when we can be ruthlessly collaborative. When we first started a national public awareness campaign, it required the collaboration and funding from all 23 opticianry organizations in Canada. This meant getting buy-in from Boards or approval from top-level management. It was not easy but listening to each group and developing a common vision helped grow buy-in over the years. It is now such an important and big initiative to educate the public that we realize we all have to continue supporting the national public awareness campaign to keep it running.
4) Failure is the first attempt in learning
Innovation isn’t possible without taking some risk and constantly trying new things. This means building an environment and processes that support learning, staying knowledgeable of trends, and working to incorporate new methodologies. When trying something new, it can also mean that things may not work out as expected and having mechanisms in place to learn how to do better next time. It is so important to constantly support learning to help drive others to always be curious and feel safe to keep working towards the unknown. I remember when we first started looking into developing a new continuing competency program, there were so many different programs and tools being utilized in different ways for quality assurance of healthcare professionals. We had to interview several other Colleges and listen to stakeholders to figure out what framework could work for regulatory bodies and opticians in Canada. What would work for one province may not work for another. We had to experiment with different frameworks before coming up with the one that most provinces accepted. Evaluation mechanisms are now being set up to evaluate the outcomes of the new continuing program to see if it achieves continuing quality improvement and if not, the data collected will help pinpoint which parts of the program needs to be improved.
I have tremendously enjoyed getting to know all of you and the pleasure of getting to even work together with some of you on ensuring safe patient care. I appreciate all the lessons learnt in the past decade and grateful for the opportunity to lead the College for the past 5 years. I wish everyone the best and looking forward to Lisa Bannerman leading the College as the next Registrar/Executive Director.