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The Caring Support Blog

Organizational Leadership in Healthcare

July 13, 2023

Today is an exciting day on the Caring Support Podcast because we have healthcare leader, midwife, scholar-practitioner, entrepreneur, consultant, expert witness, researcher and educator and Ms. Canada 2023 Finalist, Sandra Mutilva with us!

Join us as we talk to Sandra about her amazing career and what led her to where she is.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am an immigrant. I settled in Canada in 2004. I was born in Argentina and went to school there, where I received my Bachelor of Science in midwifery. I practiced midwifery in Buenos Aires, where I lived for many years, and I also was involved in some global health initiatives through world health organizations and other angles. Then in 2004, I immigrated to Canada. I went through a bridging program to have my license as a midwife. I practiced midwifery here in Ottawa from 2005 to 2018. I also delivered babies at hospitals here in Ottawa. I also served as a Chief of Midwifery and co-founded South Midwives. I have had a great career.

Then I decided to expand more on the leadership aspect. I returned to school and got my Executive MBA from the Telfer School of Management in 2017. I started in clinical care instead of working as a consultant, and then the company, so I decided to embark on finishing my Ph.D. in organizational leadership. I will finish that in the fall.

What is it like to live and work in Ottawa? Can you tell us about the diversity, opportunities for healthcare jobs there, your favourite sites to se and things to do?

Ottawa is the second most diverse city in Ontario after Toronto. There is a nice sense of community and opportunities to work, especially now that there is more flexibility with working from home or hybrid models. There are many things to do now that the pandemic is over. There are more festivals and more openness in terms of activities.

I also like how close we are to nature. I am very close to the Ottawa River, where I cross the street where I live, and in the middle of some forest, which is great for grounding, meditating, and seeing nature during the day.

I am also a runner. Ottawa is a safe city and a perfect city to raise a family. There are great schools and wonderful universities, some of which are top-ranking worldwide.

Why is risk management important in healthcare?

Risk management is complex in every industry, but in health care, there is another layer of complexity because the industry looks after the well-being of the people. So, risk management is a set of operational, clinical, and administrative mechanisms to prevent, assess and mitigate harm. Three main things come to my mind right now regarding what is important.

One of them is that we are looking after people and healthcare workers are humans and could be better. We make mistakes. It is important in that aspect to have those mechanisms when a mistake or an error is made to prevent devastating issues.

The other aspect is also reputational risk. When there are incidents that damage the reputation and the trust that the community has in the organization, the healthcare organizations need the community because the community or the many stakeholders are not only for good initiatives or philanthropic initiatives but also to bring visibility to some of the problems that are happening in the community.

The other aspect is financial. Errors can cause an organization to lose money in litigations and settlements.

What changes should healthcare organizations be making to their leadership in order to combat the high turnover rates with in the healthcare system?

In my experience, organizations need more human resources or high turnover. This speaks volumes related to leadership. This shows a lack of leadership that probably generated this problem that we are having. I don't want to paraphrase things, but they say you cannot expect something different if you do the same things. We need different perspectives to lead with these problems we are having right now.

Organizational culture is also very important. Those are more obvious. We need a more futuristic agenda, and when I talk about the futuristic plan, I am not saying between now and ten years or five years from now. I am saying that it is one year from now. We started to incorporate more technology, have more interoperability, and more facilities for education. We are talking about the education of healthcare providers, which means also incorporating knowledge based on reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence.

You are working on your PH.d right now where you are currently focused on the reliability of research using AI for women-related health issues. New technologies aimed at improving women's health have advanced in recent years, and artificial intelligence (AI) approaches to cancer diagnostics has been one of them. Why are these advancement so important for women's health?

Yes, one of the things about AI is that we know that AI needs reliable data to shine fully. So right now, one of the main gaps in research is that it has more applications seen in women and men. There has not been a good differentiation of sex in medicine as so many subjects are male.

I am assessing AI's reliability in women's healthcare. There has been a lot of evolution regarding women's health, but there is still lots of work to do. As I mentioned at the beginning, menopause is one of the areas that is like a black hole in terms of minimal research, where the only solution is hormone replacement therapy as the main treatment for the discomfort and issues that a menopausal person might have. Machines that are being used on women for diagnostics women do not invent them, and it would be great if we had more biomedical engineers that are women. They started to do complete engineering of machines used in women's diagnostics.

Is there anything else you would like to talk with us about today?

Something I mentioned before is that we need a complete switch in leadership because I hear the same things repeatedly, and even though some initiatives out there are, we need more new ideas.

Don't be afraid of disruption. Leverage more technology. Don't be afraid of the technology, but apply it cautiously. Engage in education, especially for marginalized people. There is something very important regarding the care that has been researched: concordance. For example, I am a Hispanic woman, and I understand my culture, so it would be great if there were more encouragement and money to prepare racialized communities to be the next generation of healthcare providers.

About Sandra Mutilva PhD. (c), EMBA, CHE, CRM, BHSc. RM (Emeritus)

Sandra is a healthcare leader, midwife, scholar-practitioner, entrepreneur, consultant, expert witness, researcher and educator. She advocates for women in leadership and is a trusted advisor in tackling the obstacles that diverse women must develop in executive leadership positions globally, the barriers to entrepreneurship in complex environments, and technology and innovation in health care.

Originally from Argentina, Sandra emigrated to Ottawa, Canada, in 2004. She practiced midwifery and family reproductive health clinical services since 1992, first in Argentina, in global humanitarian projects and then in Ottawa from 2005 until 2018. Sandra served as Chief of Midwifery Services at The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) from 2010 to 2016. In addition, she was co-founder of Ottawa South Midwives (OSM).

Sandra obtained her Executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Ottawa in 2017, the Executive Leadership and Machine Learning (ML) in Business certifications from Rotman School, the Risk Management (CRM) designation from York University and the Medical-Legal Management Claims certificate from Osgoode Law School. Currently, she is a Doctoral candidate (Ph.D.) in Organizational Leadership (DOL) at Adler University (Chicago campus), and she obtained the Canadian Health Leadership (CHE) certification at the Canadian College of Health Leaders in 2022.

When Sandra is not helping develop an enterprise, consulting or being a scholar, she practices martial arts, circuit training, yoga and running. She is an amateur astronomer and sommelier.

About The Author
Cali Wiersma
Social Media & Content Specialist

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