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“I don’t believe that you can change a culture but I believe that you can create a new one,” says Dr. Steve Pelletier, EMBA 1996 Telfer School of Management grad. Not being satisfied with the way health care was administered at the time, Steve decided to start the Clarence-Rockland Family Health Team with his business partner, Harry Jones, in 2008. Their clinic was named the 2015 “Clinic of the Year” by the Ontario College of Family Physicians.
Steve chose Telfer because he saw room for improvement within himself: “I had been in practice for 10 years and was quite convinced that there had to be a better way to provide health care,” he says. He was hearing good things from EMBA students, which opened his eyes to possibilities he had never considered. He was convinced; he had to take the leap. “The teachers were engaged and seemed to take great pride in leaving us with their knowledge. […] I feel that Telfer gave me all the analytical tools I need but also honed my instincts and taught me to trust them,” he says.
After graduation, Steve was asked to do some consultative work with the Canadian Medical Association and MD Management to develop and provide practice management services. This fit right into his original goal of trying to improve the health care system. He travelled the country for about twelve years giving seminars related to practice improvement, managing staff and migrating to an electronic environment. However, this also meant being distanced from practicing, which is when he realized that he wanted to put his efforts into getting a state of the art family practice set up in Clarence-Rockland.
“It became clear to me that I personally was not working in the type of modern practice that I was telling others to strive for,” Steve says. So he got in contact with an old colleague and soon-to-be co-founder, Harry Jones, who shared the same beliefs as him: primary care was underutilized and required a much needed overhaul. Together, they took the risk of dismantling current practices at the time and rebuilt a new one from the ground up by creating a well-designed space, using the right technology and hiring the right people. “We placed fairly high objectives on ourselves and we created a strong service oriented culture that permeates at all levels within our facility,” he says.
In the end it payed off, as the clinic grew from having eight physicians since its inception in 2008, to fourteen in 2015. They went from having 9,000 patients to 23,000. Steve says that their success not only came from filling a major need for health care east of Ottawa but also from the fact that they were actively improving the patients’ experience, which keeps them coming back: “Although we see more patients in a year than most of the emergency rooms in the city, the facility is quiet, calm and peaceful even during our busiest times. I think patients feel good as soon as they walk in and this makes my job as a doctor easier,” he says.
Steve believes that students are in a position of great privilege and are part of a unique group of people equipped to make change happen. When asked what advice he would give to them, he says: “The EMBA gave me energy and I would advise graduates to keep that energy going to fix things that need fixing and make things better. If we don’t, who will?” He has been involved with Telfer and has spoken to MHA students in the past.
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The Telfer MBA gives students the power to outperform: lead people, take charge of organizations, allocate resources effectively and articulate a strategic vision—all fundamental skills of high-performing business leaders.
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