Member Spotlight: James Haney

James Haney
Interview with James Haney
Director of Quality, Safety and Enterprise Risk Management, Saskatchewan Cancer Agency

by Todd Stepanuik

T. Stepanuik: James, can you provide an overview of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and an overview of your role.

J. Haney: The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency is the provincial organization in Saskatchewan that provides direct cancer treatment and prevention services to the province of Saskatchewan.

I have been the Director of Quality, Safety and Enterprise Risk Management for the past 7.5 years wherein I lead a provincial team to design, implement and resource comprehensive programs that look at (all of) our organization wide risks, the safety of our patients and staff, as well as our opportunities for improvement and enhancement of the care we provide patients and families.

One of the unique (perhaps) aspects of my role is that it crosses traditional boundaries to truly recognize the interconnected nature of safety, risk management and quality improvement; as in my opinion, you can’t have safe care without addressing organizational risks by making improvements to processes (and vice versa).

T. Stepanuik: What has been one of the most important lessons you have learned during your career? What lessons have you learned as an executive leader?

J. Haney: Change is constant and you have to expect and be able to adapt to many varying organizational / political environments. The more you are able to adapt your approach to your work, while still keeping focused on your overall career goals (and individual values), the more you will be able to accomplish.

T. Stepanuik: How has or how does ACHE help you address the challenges you face?

J. Haney: ACHE does a fantastic job of creating educational opportunities that are specific to healthcare. I joined ACHE while in graduate school and have been able to attend some world class education programs that are not available from any other group. Being able to tap into the larger American health care industry is very valuable for gaining new and world class educational experiences.

T. Stepanuik: James, reflecting back over the course of your career what has been your most rewarding experience?

J. Haney: As an individual, it has been in blending my research interests (in Healthcare Enterprise Risk Management) with my current work with the Cancer Agency.

As a Leader, it has been intentionally seeking out diversity of skills and backgrounds and mentoring and coaching my team in terms of building a successful program and working towards developing the next wave of healthcare leaders. My view is that I am hiring not just for a position, but for a future leader.

T. Stepanuik: How have you seen the healthcare management field change during your career?

J. Haney: Unfortunately I see the profession of healthcare management as very much under attack. Too often I am seeing a devaluing in what healthcare executives do for the system, as we are increasingly portrayed as a budget expense that should be minimized. This, in my view, is a shift from even 15 years ago, and is also reflected in the reduced emphasis on formal leadership training being required for many leadership positions. This said, I firmly believe Canada is ripe for a revival in healthcare leadership as a profession – as society is aging and will not tolerate services that are not effective, which I think will force the system to invest more heavily in bringing in the talent to meet public expectation.

T. Stepanuik: Who have been your mentors?

J. Haney: I have had the extreme fortune of having a group of key mentors who have greatly shaped my growth and career path. In my first leadership role in Alberta (Red Deer), I had the fortune of being part of a dynamic, high performing leadership team. My supervisor and our CEO put a premium on ensuring that I invested my time in opportunities that allowed me and my skills to grow, so as to allow my development to directly improve and contribute to improving the system. These mentors have now retired, but they still play a role in my life and career, which is priceless!

T. Stepanuik: What attracted you to the healthcare management field?

J. Haney: I did a summer practicum with a health region executive team and loved it! Being able to see how healthcare is organized and run just reinforced my desire to be part of it!

T. Stepanuik: James, how has ACHE contributed to your success?

J. Haney: Being part of ACHE has pushed me towards seeking education and credentialing on a continuing basis. I greatly value being able to sharpen my skills with world class programming. Being able to credential those experiences through the ACHE Fellowship program has helped establish a skill set that stands out.

T. Stepanuik: What advice would you give to young careerists starting their career in healthcare administration?

J. Haney: Get involved in a group or professional association such as ACHE. The support and community you build helps you in ways that you can’t imagine right away early in your career.