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Shalini Gambhir

From cancer therapy to improving policy for the handling and storage of vaccines

Understanding the business of quality health care and the complexities of the healthcare system were key reasons why Shalini Gambhir pursued her Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree from the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.

Understanding the business of quality health care and the complexities of the healthcare system were key reasons why Shalini Gambhir pursued her Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree from the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.

With a background in cancer radiotherapy and twelve plus years of experience, Shalini works as a Medical Radiation Therapist for the British Columbia Cancer Centre. A technical expert in cancer management, a large part of her role focuses on health promotion and patient empowerment at all stages of life.

“Having shown leadership in many informal situations, I sought out the MHA to help me acquire the skills needed to build innovative teams, be an effective change agent, and to have an impact in policy development and implementation, specifically where grassroots approaches are used to improve patient experiences.”

For Shalini, the MHA program allowed her to apply her learnings and tools in real-time within a professional health care capacity, and to share her experiences with her colleagues in the classroom. While, the online format gave her the freedom needed to balance all aspects of her family, work and academic life. Having completed almost all of her course requirements, Shalini opted to enroll in the MHA Placement opportunity so that she could showcase her theoretical knowledge in an applied and practical setting.

Shalini used the placement as a catalyst for her self-development and personal growth in communication, critical thinking and research skills. She learned the importance of accountability to herself, her colleagues and the greater population. For her, some of the key highlights of her placement included working collaboratively with her mentor, key leaders within the provincial health authority­—such as the province’s  Chief Medical Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab—and with program coordinators, supervisors and public health nurses responsible for immunization programs.

Like previous MHA placement students, Shalini had the opportunity to perform timely research that will be of immediate benefit to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, as well as health systems across Canada.  Assigned to the Disease Prevention Unit of the Ministry's Population Health Branch, Gambhir identified best practices in vaccine cold chain management and developed multi-faceted recommendations for improving handling and storage by non-public health providers. 

"If a COVID-19 vaccine is developed for administration by primary care physicians, Shalini's work could end up helping the province ensure that the vaccine is managed in a safe, efficient, and cost-effective manner," said JSGS Assistant Professor and MHA Program Director Cheryl Camillo

An exceedingly popular program among health professionals since its launch in 2012, the MHA program helps students develop the knowledge and skills required by managers in the health field which in turn allows them to contribute to improving the effectiveness of program and policy development, health service delivery, implementation and evaluation.  It also provides students with a unique opportunity to enroll in an in-person placement within a partner organization, such as the Government of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health. During their placement, students work on a designated policy project under the supervision of a mentor within the organization and their course instructor. 

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