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Dr. Chantal Backman, RN, BScN, MHA, PhD (Feb 2011), has always been in search of providing better and safer healthcare. “Although I enjoyed the clinical environment, I was continually nagged by the idea that there must be better ways to influence the health care system and to improve quality and safety,” she says. Chantal, after completing 11 years of schooling and taking on various positions at the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and The Ottawa Hospital, continues to thrive in a research-based environment as an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa in the School of Nursing.
After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing Science at uOttawa in 1997, Chantal was advised to explore the MHA program at the Telfer School of Management by one of her nursing professors as she wanted to pursue greater things. “After learning about the program, speaking with Dr. Doug Angus, and looking at what past graduates had accomplished, I realized that a MHA would be a perfect fit to allow me to gain access to positions where I would be able to focus on improving the quality and safety in the way I had always imagined!” she says. During her MHA program, Chantal was given the opportunity to do her residency at The Ottawa Hospital, under the mentorship of Wendy Nicklin. At the time, the Vice-President of Medical Affairs, Dr. Jack Kitts, remembered her from her residency and later, when he became President and CEO, he approached Chantal to help him lead a national collaborative titled Canadian Collaborative for Excellence in Healthcare Quality, a three year initiative to reach higher performance levels in quality of care through collaboration with Academic Health Sciences Centres across Canada. “[The residency] provided me with a great opportunity to interact with senior leaders and forge a network that I rely on to this day,” says Backman.
After completing her MHA in 2000, Chantal had her eye on a position in nursing research within the Nursing Professional Practice Department at The Ottawa Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Ginette Lemire-Rodger. As the position required a PhD, she went on to complete a PhD in nursing at the University of Alberta. This not only allowed her to access various progressive leadership roles at The Ottawa Hospital on the performance measurement and quality teams, but also at the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. However, Chantal still felt like more could be done in direct research in the areas she thought most needed it, therefore she accepted a Faculty Position at the University of Ottawa in the School of Nursing, where she is currently working.
When being asked what inspires her the most, Chantal says: “…feeling like I am making a difference, that the work I do contributes to improving the quality of care. I particularly like to continuously look at ways to improve the care we provide to our patients, and ultimately our community.” She also very much believes in mentoring, having always worked in environments where collaboration and idea sharing were imperative. She says: “I know as a young student starting out, I would have greatly benefited from additional mentorship and guidance from someone on a health care related track. I always keep that in mind when I am asked to speak to students and it motivates me to help mentor young students interested in health management and research.” Chantal continues to provide mentorship today.
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