Colleen McEachern chose a profession in healthcare leadership because she wanted a rewarding career and was drawn to like-minded people. Colleen works in the interior of BC where there is a mix of urban, rural, and remote communities. She finds it is the type of people who live in the interior that makes her work fulfilling. Colleen views healthcare as a collection of individuals and diverse groups who share a common purpose: to do the best possible for patients, residents, and clients. In recognition of her numerous achievements, Colleen received the 2019 Award for Distinguished Service from the CCHL BC Interior Chapter.
Colleen holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Ottawa, and a laboratory technology diploma from Edmonton. She began her career in food microbiology then moved into several clinical laboratory positions in Edmonton, Toronto, and Washington State. Since moving to the BC interior, Colleen has worked in progressive management and leadership positions in community, residential, acute, and corporate services. She has experienced two major iterations of healthcare regionalization and views these changes as opportunities for growth. During this regionalization, Colleen worked closely with the developing governance model and supported two board committees. She has had some amazing experiences in leadership within active Incident Command and Emergency Operations centers during natural emergencies like interface wildfires, floods, and mudslides. Colleen’s current position is Corporate Director of Capital Planning with Interior Health. Her role is to lead preparation of submissions to fund, build, and operate new hospital towers, and plan larger renovations to existing clinical facilities across the health authority.
Colleen helped bring the UBC Southern Medical Program to the BC interior. The interdisciplinary approach to care in this program has many benefits for patients and rural communities. Clinical education experiences in rural and remote areas are actively promoted and practicums include a team of learners from several disciplines. This experience, plus the ability to also learn whether a rural lifestyle is a good ‘fit’, contribute to improved recruitment and retention in our communities.
Colleen first connected with the College while completing her graduate degree at the University of Ottawa. She joined the College in 1992 and completed her CHE in 1994. Colleen’s favourite college events is the chapter webinars because she lives in a rural area and the topics generally resonate with her. Since 1995, Colleen has been active with the Chapter Executive as their Treasurer. It is important to Colleen to be actively involved at a local level. Her volunteer work with members of her local CCHL Chapter has included educational programming, member recruitment, and networking activities; all important work for local leaders.