Take that step out of your comfort zone, you will not regret it, says Jillian Chandler, CHE

December 1, 2021

Jillian began her career as a nurse in acute care at the University Health Network about ten years ago. She had not intended to pursue leadership or management as a career path. “I could see myself going along the clinical path, and that was my main focus. I enjoyed direct patient care, but after working at a hospital and being exposed to a variety of jobs, I became interested in clinical management as a means to influence the outcomes and experiences of a larger number of patients while also making a difference on a different level.”  Jillian eventually went on to do a master’s degree in health administration, which is when she became engaged with CCHL. Afterwards, she worked at University Health Network as a clinical manager, where she is now working on the deployment of a new health information system.

Along the way, Jillian’s journey allowed her to branch out and attempt new things. When questioned about her proudest achievement, Jillian stated that forming a safety and quality committee, which did not exist at the time, was her best achievement. “In my first position as a clinical manager of an inpatient unit, I assisted in the formation of the program’s safety and quality committee. We received a lot of fantastic input and engagement from the point of care employees both on the committee and in terms of the quality improvement of work that came out of the committee. It previously wasn’t part of the culture there to look at data and utilise it to drive quality improvement initiatives. So, there was that notion of involving employees at the point of care while also making a measurable difference in patient safety and quality.”

Jillian did not always envision a career in healthcare. However, a lot of her family members worked in healthcare, and so it was something she was familiar with. She also did some travelling during her undergraduate degree and had the opportunity to travel to Kenya, where she saw nurses working on an immunisation program from a variety of countries. She believes that is what really solidified it for her because the skills that they had were so useful and tangible that they were actually able to help people.

Jillian strongly urges people to become more involved in their communities and to not be scared to raise their hands and attempt new things. “As I previously stated, I was introduced to CCHL through my master’s program, and I had previously been associated with several nursing organisations, so I have always recognised the importance of professional groups in bringing people together and forming relationships across sectors. I believe it is important to participate because it brings people together, and allows you to meet people from outside of your workplace, broadening your horizons in terms of the ideas you hear about and allowing you to bring back valuable information to your workplace.” The networking and connections aspects are also very valuable according to her. “When you’re in school, you’re immersed in learning and meeting all kinds of new people; when you go out into your career, there appears to be a bit of tunnel vision where you’re very focused on what you’re doing, and so I think it’s just a great way to get out of your comfort zone and meet people.”

One of Jillian’s favourite CCHL memories is of putting together and leading an in-person event from beginning to end. I’ve been involved for six years and began as a student representative. “I’ve learned a lot about how events are put together, but it wasn’t until just before the pandemic that I had led and put together an event in collaboration with ACHE, where we had speakers, a large audience, a great topic, and a lot of audience engagement.” In recognition of Jillian’s ongoing efforts and commitment, the Chapter Award for Distinguished Service was awarded to her in 2021 by the Greater Toronto Area Chapter.