IHPME Student-Led Article Explores Inclusive Leadership

June 21, 2024

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Clockwise: Aunima R. Bhuiya, Alyssa Kelly, Lorraine (Lori) Pirrie, Danielle Toccalino, Whiwon Lee, Meghan McMahon, Beverley M. Essue

A newly published article collaboratively led by a group of IHPME graduate students in the IHPME doctoral class, “Training for Impact: Art & Science of Health System Leadership,” explores inclusive leadership as an essential competency to support better health outcomes for populations who have historically been underserved by the system. It does so by examining the experiences and perspectives of five health system leaders. 

The article, The Space Is as Much Yours as It Is Mine”: Insights From Health Systems Leaders About Inclusive Leadership, is now available in the latest issue of Healthcare Quarterly, a division of Longwoods Publishing. 

As a leading publication that promotes excellence in Canadian healthcare by sharing best practices, and fostering innovation and leadership, the research team is excited to have their findings featured in the journal. 

“I am grateful for the opportunity to share our findings on inclusive leadership with a readership consisting of leaders and policymakers in health settings across Canada and internationally,” says Aunima Bhuiya, a third-year PhD candidate in the Health Systems Research (HSR) program and co-first author of the article. “Healthcare Quarterly provides a space for trainees and future health leaders to join the interactive and practical discussions surrounding current and emerging evidence-informed practices and competencies within the healthcare community.” 

Alyssa Kelly, a fourth-year PhD candidate also in the HSR program and co-first author, says she is eager to have her name among others whom she has previously referenced as part of her own research, which explores how health equity is understood and applied in Ontario hospitals.  

“I have read a lot of insightful and relevant articles from Longwoods and am excited to have our own work published alongside them,” says Kelly. “The fact that our paper was accepted shows that inclusive leadership is a timely and important topic, and I am grateful to be contributing to current discussions and advancing knowledge about leadership in health settings.” 

The article evolved from a group project carried out by members of the inaugural cohort of Training and Impact: The Art & Science of Health System Leadership, a course that was created to improve the leadership skills of public health and health systems doctoral students.  

The course was born from a 2015 Pan-Canadian Training Modernization Strategy, led by Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown and Dr. Stephen Bornstein, CIHR’s Institute of Health Services and Policy Research, and a collective of health systems leaders and academics across Canada. The initiative identified growing interest from health system organizations for PhD talent to help them address complex challenges with evidence and from many doctoral students who want to use their research expertise to enact positive change within the health system but feel underprepared to do so. From this, the Enriched Core Competency Framework for Health Services and Policy Research was created, which outlined a suite of research and leadership competencies deemed essential to health systems and policy researchers’ ability to advance evidence-informed health system improvement. 

IHPME faculty, Drs. Meghan McMahon and Beverley Essue, who are both authors on the article, and Senior Fellow Dr. Terry Sullivan, who has since retired from IHPME, led the creation of the course to introduce a leadership component within the HSR PhD curriculum. The course aligns with and integrates the framework and aims to enhance students’ research toolkits with inclusive leadership skills to elevate their preparedness to lead, inspire change, and apply innovative solutions to complex health system challenges. 

“The collaborative work of these students […] is a testament to their commitment, determination and passion to advance understanding of this topic as well as the relevance of Inclusive Leadership in the health system leadership literature. As a new topic in this course, and an important competency that is often overlooked in leadership literature, it has been quite rewarding to engage students in thoughtful and critical discussions about how to lead for inclusion in health systems,” says Dr. Beverley Essue, senior author on the paper. 

“Their [the students] commitment to developing their knowledge and skills in Inclusive Leadership, to helping others develop knowledge by way of a conference presentation and a publication with Healthcare Quarterly, and to advancing this important field of science and practice is commendable and inspiring. It is an honour and privilege to engage with students like this author team and support their leadership development,” says Dr. Meghan McMahon. 

According to the research team, the article explores enablers that foster inclusive leadership, as identified by health system leaders, and provides advice for future health leaders beyond the field of clinical research. 

“There’s always room to grow and develop leadership competencies, and this article will hopefully facilitate a moment of pause and reflection for people to assess their strengths, vulnerabilities and biases and how these may or may not contribute to safe and inclusive spaces for others,” says co-author and HSR MSc student Lorraine (Lor) Pirrie. “I’m hoping that I can play one small part in this shift towards health equity for all.” 

Co-author Danielle Toccalino, a post-doctoral CIHR-IHSPR Health Systems Impact Fellow at Women’s College Hospital, says the article brings an underrepresented perspective to the forefront by highlighting research based on Canadian healthcare experiences in Canadian journals.  

Ultimately, the author team is hoping to keep this dialogue at the forefront of Canadian health policy discourse, leadership development, and curriculum design and build off their findings. 

“I am excited to share our work with the healthcare community and hope it can contribute to the broader conversation about inclusive leadership in our field,” says co-author and PhD HSR student Whiwon Lee. 

Visit the Training and Impact course page to learn more about this course and register for an upcoming semester, or contact Dr. Meghan McMahon (meghan.mcmahon@utoronto.ca) or Dr. Beverley Essue (beverley.essue@utoronto.ca) for more information.

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Marielle Boutin
Email Address: ihpme.communications@​utoronto.ca

Manages all IHPME-wide communications and marketing initiatives, including events and announcements.