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Today’s healthcare challenges demand a new kind of leadership

The uOttawa Telfer School of Management MHA is the answer

Sarah Downey
Sarah Downey

Provincial spending on healthcare is escalating rapidly as a percentage of program expenditures – this is a trend that is not sustainable. An aging population is only adding to the pressure. Cutting-edge leadership and management are essential to improve the quality of our healthcare system while keeping costs under control.

But what kind of qualifications should this leadership have? 

The University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management knows that the skills required are unique to the needs of this sector. The answer is to go beyond a general MBA and offer instead a program that is tailored to the Canadian healthcare system.

Telfer’s Master of Health Administration was the first MHA in Canada and remains the only one in the country to be housed in a School of Management. Through a 24-month curriculum, candidates focus on the critical areas that will equip them to make a difference – health systems, innovation, analytics, decision-making, change management and optimization of resources.

A powerful alumni network

Sarah Downey is President and CEO of the Michael Garron Hospital, part of the Toronto East Health Network. She completed her Telfer MHA in 1992. Armed with a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of New Brunswick, she came to Telfer because the MHA gave her the opportunity to blend health sciences with her interest in business.

“With healthcare, it’s business with a heart and an important purpose and that really appeals to me,” she said.

Downey’s MHA has opened doors to a wealth of opportunities and the chance to tackle critical issues during an “exciting period of change” in healthcare. In fact, her predecessor at the Michael Garron Hospital (Rob Devitt), also a Telfer MHA alumnus, created The Michael Garron Award. This recognizes a Telfer MHA student who has demonstrated innovative health solutions to practical problems encountered during their residency placement.

“It is a badge of honour to have a Telfer MHA,” said Downey. “As I have travelled across the country and worked in different hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa, I have always found proud Telfer MHA alumni to work with and I have been mentored by other Telfer grads throughout my career.”

Marrying high-tech with healthcare innovation

Mari Teitelbaum, Chief Innovation Officer at CHEO, came to Telfer in the late 2000s after a 15-year career in Ottawa’s high-tech sector as an electrical engineer and product manager.


Healthcare ran in the family – her mother worked as a radiologist and her father as a GP. She saw the challenges that new technology adoption posed for many healthcare professionals. When the time came for a career change, Teitelbaum saw the Telfer MHA as the perfect way to enter the healthcare field while also taking full advantage of her engineering and software experience.

Thanks to the Telfer MHA’s comprehensive curriculum, the residency component and the mentorship of her peers, Teitelbaum graduated fully confident that she was ready to rise to the challenge.

“I am where I want to be, doing what I love,” Teitelbaum said. “I have found my place in the world. The healthcare field is filled with people with a whole other level of passion, compassion and smarts – having the opportunity to work with these people and support them in their work is incredible.”

Are you ready for a Telfer MHA?

Telfer is the only School of Management in Ontario with triple-crown international accreditation. MHA candidates can take full advantage of Telfer’s location in downtown Ottawa – where national, provincial and association healthcare leaders and managers from all sectors converge.

Are you ready to step up and lead the transformation in a sector ripe for change? Learn more at