By Drew Halfnight
Lt. Kevin Dulude is administering health care in one of the hottest war zones in the world, and Ryerson had a hand in getting him there.
Dulude is one of 88 Canadian Forces officers to graduate from the Chang School’s Health Services Management (HSM) certificate program, and one of many in Afghanistan.
“These guys manage clinics, field ambulances and hospitals when they’re overseas,” said Winston Isaac, director of the HSM course. “They’re in Afghanistan, for sure, and they were in Bosnia.”
Since the program’s inception in 2001, CF contingents have been sent to Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Golan Heights and Afghanistan.
“They enjoy going overseas; they come back and say, ‘It was such a great experience,’” Isaac said.
Dulude and other overseas grads were unavailable for comment.
The HSM-certificate students are flown from their home bases all over the country to get to classes at Canadian Forces Base Borden outside of Barrie.
Once there, they meet their Ryerson instructors, who travel for an hour and a half to deliver their lectures.
The intensive course takes one full school year to complete.
“If we’re going to train people, we might as well train them in an appropriate manner,” said Lt. Denis Hearn, a recruiting officer with the Canadian Forces Health Services.
The 15 students enrolled in the program this year will take six classes at Borden, plus two online, in subjects ranging from leadership and management to human resources, law and health care systems.
Upon graduation they will join the 5,102 health workers in the CF as health administrators and analysts.
Lt. Hearn said Ryerson grads posted in Afghanistan would work in clinics, headquarters and “operational tactical units.”
Among their duties would be “working in the advanced surgical center,” Hearn said, or “returning casualties to Canada,” or “family reunification.”
Hearn said the course, which is now compulsory for any officer entering the CF as a health administrator, makes “bona fide health care professionals” of the officers.
The program dates from 2001, when Ryerson won the contract with the Department of National Defence.
“They were looking for a university to train their current and future health care professionals,” said Issac, who was part of the original negotiations. “We knew what they wanted. So we customized the selection of courses.”
The Chang School is known for pioneering made-to-order education.
“This is a perfect example of how [we] work with faculty to meet a social need,” said Anita Shilton, dean of the Chang School.
“We’re retailing education,” added Earl Miller, director of Organizational Learning, a Ryerson department that custom-designs academic programs for organizations such as the DND.
The school has already signed contracts with about 25 companies other than the DND, including Air Transat, TVOntario, IBM and the TTC.
Miller added that he was working on another contract with the DND to create an Occupational Health and Safety program for CF members.
“They have to run a top-notch operation, particularly in the war-zone theatre,” Miller said of the HSM program.
He would not say how much the school is paid under these contracts, though he did say that his job “is to return revenue to Ryerson.”
“When it comes right down to it,” Miller said, “we are providing health services in support of soldiers serving in Afghanistan. That’s a big deal.”