Cindy Trytten, CHE, chose a career in healthcare as a result of her empathy and concern for others

January 14, 2022

“Life’s challenges are supposed to help you discover who you are, not paralyze you.” This remains one of Cindy’s favourite quotes to this day. At this stage in her life and work, she can see the wisdom and truth in this. We have a variety of concerns in healthcare (money, resources, inertia, societal pressures, technology, sociopolitical issues… and more). We confront a variety of challenges outside of work as well, but Cindy believes that this is what allows a person to grow.

Due to her compassion and concern for people, Cindy selected a job in healthcare. In the public health care system, applied research is much more than a means of generating generalizable information. Research is care in a modern health authority. It improves outcomes, experience, and sustainability by enabling interaction and acting as a learning and change accelerator. This means a lot to Cindy from both a professional and personal standpoint. 

Cindy’s current position as Director of Research at Island Health is the result of her compassion, curiosity, and dedication. She began her career after graduating from university with a master’s degree in molecular endocrinology, studying breast cancer, from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine.  She understood that working in a lab setting was not for her after graduation, as much as she wanted to be able to contribute to “the cure” and as much as she liked the science. So, armed with her master’s degree, she moved on from basic research to clinical research, where innovative therapies are tested on people.

From there, she had subsequent leadership opportunities in every role she held, all of which were related to health research. She transitioned from the private sector (biotechnology) to the public sector (BC Transplant Society), back to the private sector (as a founding member and later Vice President of a Vancouver-based clinical research organization), and finally to Victoria, where she became the first Director of Research at Island Health. “I became a CCHL member and earned my CHE in my current role, which has been a critical facilitator to leading in complexity” she said.

Cindy noted that the Vancouver Island Chapter gives multiple opportunities to create contacts with leaders from various sectors of her health authority when asked about the relevance of joining her local Chapter. These opportunities enable collaborative work that is both easier and better because of the pre-existing foundation of trust and camaraderie among coworkers. Second, she emphasized that a variety of leadership development activities are accessible, such as morning speaker sessions, workshops, and other events. These activities for further learning also allow her to earn continuing education credits, which she can use to meet her CHE requirements. Ms. Trytten has made a significant impact to her Chapter since her first connection with the College. In 2021, the College’s Vancouver Island Chapter presented her with the Chapter Award for Distinguished Service in appreciation of her efforts.

Cindy’s favorite contribution with the College thus far was in Niagara Falls in 2013 at a time when health research topics were basically non-existent. “Four of us travelled from British Columbia to present on engaging patients in research and six people attended, including two lovely ladies who came because we met them at lunch! We huddled together in the airport on the way home pondering why. This failure to engage, as hard it was, was one of my most valued experiences at a CCHL conference because it made me reflect, learn, change and grow,” said Cindy. “That poorly attended session was a springboard for any future presentations on the integration of research into care at CCHL events, with messages crafted to be meaningful to the audience of healthcare decision makers.”