Chair, Canadian Chapter ACHE
by Todd Stepanuik
T. Stepanuik: Frances, please provide an overview of your background and career.
F. Roesch: I started out in public relations and with a few projects focused on healthcare and access to care in rural areas. I decided to focus on health administration. After completing my M.H.A. at University of Memphis, I did a postgraduate fellowship at ACHE and then moved to the Illinois State Medical Society for a few years before coming back to Canada. I have spent most of my career in medical affairs and physician relations in one capacity or another with much of my focus on medical education, credentialing, contracts, risk management and medical staff governance. The best part has always been the people I have worked with.
T. Stepanuik: What is the most challenging aspect of leading the Queen Square Doctors FHO?
F. Roesch: As in many organizations, change management is the biggest challenge. Queen Square Doctors created the role of executive director to take on the operational management and administrative leadership of the practice and to lead the modernization of its operations and governance. A lot of ground work and relationship building was needed to have enough trust to move those initial projects forward. We’ve made significant progress in many areas and after these successes, are now able to make more changes at an accelerated pace.
T. Stepanuik: In your current role what has been the most rewarding experience?
F. Roesch: I’ve led a lot of change at Queen Square Doctors and the one that I am most proud of was aligning the paid time off of part time and full time staff. It was one of the first items I worked on and I was able to find savings by aligning a few other compensation related items that made the change almost cost neutral. It made a big difference for my team members and we were then already compliant when Bill 148 came into effect, requiring that part time and full time staff have equal compensation for equal work.
T. Stepanuik: What has been one of the most important lessons you have learned during your career?
F. Roesch: Never sacrifice your values for a job. At the end of the day, you go home to those you love and who love you. If you sacrifice yourself to get ahead at work, you become unrecognizable to the people you go home to. No job is worth that.
T. Stepanuik: What lessons have you learned as an executive leader?
F. Roesch: Don’t take it personally is one of the best lessons I have learned. That doesn’t mean I don’t care, and it doesn’t mean that I sometimes don’t give more than I should or become more invested than is needed. But it does mean that I don’t let it eat at me when things don’t go right if I have done my best. It’s still my problem to fix, so I keep looking for ways to improve or find that elusive solution. I have also learned to look at process and systems as the first options for improvements or changes and remember to give others the opportunity to contribute and shape our path forward. We can generate better ideas together.
T. Stepanuik: How have you been successful in balancing work with family?
F. Roesch: Work has deadlines and pressures that are concrete and have little concern for school pageants and anniversary dinners. But life has its own milestones – like birthday cakes – that have equal disregard for board meetings and ministry directives. My kids are just entering their teen years and my husband and I are about to celebrate our twenty-second wedding anniversary. I am committed to both my family and career and do my best to be fully present for each. I fiercely protect my vacation time and try to truly leave it behind and refresh when I am away. I have also been very fortunate to have bosses throughout my career who have been great examples of how to put family first and still have a thriving career. As a leader, it’s important to me that I create that same space for my team members.
T. Stepanuik: What is the best advice you have ever received?
F. Roesch: I have been so fortunate to have benefited from a lot of good advice in my life, most of it focused on values and being true to myself. My grandmothers taught me not to let others impose boundaries or limits on me; to set my own goals and vision for myself. It was actually the CEO of ACHE (now president emeritus), Tom Dolan, who taught me to never be afraid of stepping out of the workforce to achieve other goals: good people are hard to find and will always be welcomed back. Suzanne Nelson, an early mentor, impressed upon me the importance of life-long learning and taking risks in my career. As I have moved through my career, other leaders and mentors have imparted wisdom with variations of the similar themes. Respecting my values above all else is the principle I hold to most closely.
T. Stepanuik: What are your views on effective healthcare leadership and the primary leadership skills needed to be successful today?
F. Roesch: I think leadership transcends sectors. I believe courage, listening, willingness to learn, to take advice and be able to admit when you don’t have the answers are some of the primary skills of a successful leader. Putting people first – our patients, our staff, our families – and remembering that people are our most valuable resource is important to me.
T. Stepanuik: Please share what prompted you to take on the reigns as ACHE Canadian Chapter Board chair?
F. Roesch: ACHE has always been there for me. One of our faculty members, Dr. Greer Gay, encouraged us to be active in ACHE. We started a student chapter at The University of Memphis and I was the secretary. I was then the president and after graduating, joined ACHE as a staff member as the Stuart A. Wesbury Jr. Postgraduate Fellow. I have taken various roles in ACHE over the years and always enjoyed being active in our professional association. A vibrant chapter requires members to be active and give of their time and talents. Contributing to our chapter has been a great experience and it is a privilege to serve. I have met so many incredible leaders here in the Canadian Chapter and I have reaped a great return on this investment!
T. Stepanuik: How has the ACHE been integral in your leadership?
F. Roesch: When I look back on my career to date, almost all of my mentors have been part of ACHE. It wasn’t by design, though it has become clear to me that the values we hold as a professional association resonate with me. Being an active part of ACHE has contributed greatly to the leader I am today. When I was just starting my career, my ACHE colleagues cheered me on, opened doors and coached me. When I was ready to move from manager to leader, the Executive Program was a formative program for my transition. The friends I have made through ACHE have been there to support me through the rough spots – both professionally and personally. I can’t imagine not being part of ACHE.
T. Stepanuik: As an active mentor and leader in the field of healthcare management, you have been extensively involved with ACHE. What advice do you give to early careerists with respect to involvement in ACHE?
F. Roesch: Put your hand up, get involved, offer your time and your talents. What you gain will be more than you can imagine. Your relationship with ACHE is like any other relationship. There is give and take, learning and sharing, and sacrifices too. If you are willing to put in the time and the effort to be an active member, you will meet mentors, friends and people who inspire you. You will also broaden your professional network and contribute to the next generation of healthcare leaders as you grow. Seeing them grow and succeed is a reward all of its own.
Frances has been a Fellow of ACHE since 2007. In her current role as Executive Director and Privacy Officer with Queen Square Doctors, a large family practice group in Brampton, Ontario, Frances makes good use of her master of health administration, as well as a Certificate in Health Law from Osgoode Hall. In addition to her role as Chair of Board of the Canadian Chapter of ACHE, Frances is also Treasurer of the Board of Directors at De dwa da dehs nyes Aboriginal Health Centres in Brantford and Hamilton. Frances and her husband Glen have two children, a son (grade 10) and a daughter (grade 7).