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Provider; Leader
11/30/2020 5:00 PM

Leslie Ann Rowsell#SuperSHIFTER Leslie Ann Rowsell was Chair of the Atlantic Learning Exchange held in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, in October 2019. The Atlantic Learning Exchange brings together healthcare professionals from the four Atlantic provinces to discover innovative and emerging trends in patient safety and quality improvement.

What can you tell us about the Atlantic Learning Exchange?

The Atlantic Learning Exchange (ALE) is a wonderful opportunity for people in Atlantic Canada to come together to discuss their work in patient safety and quality. We offer the opportunity for people to showcase their work and what they are doing in their respective regions. To engage ALE delegates, our presenters go through a rapid-fire process to talk about their projects for about five minutes as well as display poster and story boards. It also opens doors for people who are in this line of work to meet with various vendors and sponsors. It provides conversation time and exposure to things that our delegates may not necessarily see every day.

In a nutshell, the ALE is a great networking opportunity for like-minded individuals to connect, broaden their knowledge, and take that knowledge translation back to their workplace.

Tell us about your experience as Chair of the event?

It was great fun to be the Chair of such a phenomenal event. I haven't been on the planning side of many healthcare conferences, so I was a newbie when it comes to this level of work.

In 2015, I was approached by our Vice-President Clinical Supports and the Director of Quality Risk and Patient Safety, who were responsible for Quality at Eastern Health to be the provincial representative on the planning committee for these conferences. I attended the 2015 and 2017 conferences before taking on the Chair role for the Conference here in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2019.

Everyone on the planning committee works full-time and the conference planning is in addition to our regular work. It requires the help of everyone in all the Atlantic provinces to help ensure there is adequate representation from each province attending the event, and for the storyboards and rapid-fire presentations. But the ALE also needs a commitment of organizations to send people to the Conference. It's definitely a team effort to pull an event like this together.

In the beginning days, we thought it may have been difficult to attract delegates because air travel is expensive and it's not easy to drive to our province at that time of the year.  The response was overwhelming and in the end we maximized the room capacity and had to turn people away.

What makes the Atlantic Learning Exchange unique?

The ALE is designed by Atlantic Canadians, for Atlantic Canada. Because the geography of Atlantic Canada is somewhat small, we bring a grassroots perspective with people on the planning committee representing all four provinces. As a group, we pick the theme and design the agenda. We have a lot of flexibility when it comes to our speakers and how we spend the money entrusted to us to run the ALE. Because there is so much input from all provinces, the agenda is very relevant and applicable for everyone in the room.

The Atlantic Learning Exchange has been successful because we have been able to work together and network together. We have been able to help keep the costs down so that people can afford to come. And, we have made the event something meaningful that happens every second year.

What were some of the highlights of the 2019 ALE for you?

Jeffrey Braithwaite was one of our keynote speakers and he wowed the audience with his knowledge on patient safety. There was so much rich content in his presentation, and I have become quite interested in his work in systems improvement and now follow him on Twitter.

To encourage resilience, Braithwaite suggests:

  1. Look at what goes right, not just what goes wrong;
  2. When something goes wrong, begin by understanding how it (otherwise) usually goes right.
  3. Look at frequent events, not just severe ones;
  4. Be proactive about safety - try to anticipate developments and events; and
  5. Be thorough, as well as efficient (the ETTO principle – efficiency-thoroughness trade-off).

Marlies van Dijk from Alberta Health Services Design Lab delivered a powerful presentation demonstrating how the biggest opportunities to transform health care lie not within strategies or processes, but within mindsets. Marlies reinforced the importance of knowing your team, and networking within work to build your own resources and strengths. When you connect with people who build you up and you find those people to trust, brainstorm and work with, you will find your supporters!

There was also an interesting presentation from the Hacking Health team at Eastern Health and their work to hack no-show rates. Hacking Health fosters collaborative innovation by engaging key groups of stakeholders to create solutions to healthcare challenges as a mindset, not a skill-set.

Where can we go for more information?

Copies of the presentations from the 2019 ALE are available on the Canadian Patient Safety Institute's website. Click here to access the presentations. 

If you have questions about the ALE, contact me at: