Sen – From Surgeon to Healthcare Improvement Specialist

Sen – From Surgeon to Healthcare Improvement Specialist

#14 - While cultures around the world are different, parents are all the same; they want their children to have a good life, and a stable career can help make that happen.  That’s why Sen’s parents recommended that their son, a bright student, should become a doctor.  The world always needs doctors, in good times and bad, so Sen took their advice and ended up as a surgeon in his native China. After a government policy change pushed him away from surgery and into the role of Quality Care Specialist, Sen moved through the ranks until he was the Director of Emergency and of the Patient Department at the hospital where he had done his training. Despite the success, some of the things Sen saw had him considering leaving China for the western world. Looking for a way to move his family to Canada, he found the Master of Public Health program at Western University and knew that was his pathway to immigration. Three and a half years after arriving in Canada, completing his Master’s degree, and working in the Canadian healthcare system, Sen reflects on how he got here. 
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The below transcript is A.I generated with light editing and may not be 100% accurate.

Transcript
Jonathan Collaton:

Good morning, good afternoon or good evening and welcome to another episode of career crossroads. I'm your host, Jonathan Collaton. And this is my podcast where I talk to one person each week to find out how exactly they ended up in their current career. Sometimes they had to pivot while they were in school when they realized they didn't really like their program. And sometimes they spent years in one career before they decided to try something else. The story of today's guest is a little bit different. Sen Wang was raised in China, but moved to Canada about three and a half years ago. While he's still working in the same general field, he's had a few career pivots along the way. Let's get right to his interview. Senn Welcome to career crossroads. How you doing?

Sen Wang:

Thank you. Thank you for having me. I'm doing a great day and kind of busy,

Jonathan Collaton:

Kind of busy? Well, I'm glad you're able to make time tonight. And so to start off, the way that you and I know each other you went to school at one point with my wife, Natasha, so it was great when she told me that you had listened to the podcast and you said you liked it. And so I thought that was awesome. I got to have you on because I know you have a super interesting story.

Sen Wang:

Thank you. Yeah, I think your podcast is really interesting, because I love reading books, especially like history and storybooks. They are really something interesting happened in different people have different kinds of lives. So I'm very interesting. And to hear what you are into when you're interviewing some people, their stories and their lives. They're real.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah.

Sen Wang:

Yeah, that's a greatest part.

Jonathan Collaton:

Perfect. Yeah, exactly. And, like the story of each person is what I'm really interested in, too. And I've kind of said the same thing before, like stories really hook me. So it's part of the reason why I wanted to do this. So but today, you get to tell your story. And so other people are gonna listen to it.

Sen Wang:

Okay. I'm nervous and excited.

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh, good. I'm glad I hope it's nervous excitement. So let's go back to what is kind of the beginning of a lot of people's career story. And I want to get a sense of when you're about 16, In what would be high school in Canada, what were you doing? What were you like, Where were you raised Exactly? And, you know, what was your your thought about what you want it to be?

Sen Wang:

To be very honest, when I was 16, I don't have a goal of life or go for career. Because in China, we have kind of different system education system. I know in Canada, we need to apply for university and for offer something. But in China, it's a one exam, decide what you're going to go. So for the three, three years, you're going to prepare for that exam, to decide, are you going to this school or B school or C school, something like that?

Jonathan Collaton:

So how does that work? Like what's the kind of age range when you're preparing for that test?

Sen Wang:

For the first two years is the same like you learn new knowledge, you prepare for them and the third year, you wouldn't be told me anything new. You just go over and over and to be very familiar with everything and know how they're gonna test you then per hopefully, you can do a great job.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay. And then you like 18 years old or 19? When you do that test?

Sen Wang:

Yeah. 19

Jonathan Collaton:

19 perfect.. Alright, so, so you took the test? And what what are the results of the test? How's that work? Do they does? Is it a government run system where you run, you take the test, and they just say, Okay, this is the career for you? Or how's that work?

Sen Wang:

Okay,it's a government run. Probably, let's say three or five provinces, they have the same past, and you're gonna get a score, and different university, they will announce their score line for this area, say for my city, probably you want to go to Ching Hua university or Peking University, which are the best, probably have to be 700. And the maximum, a total score will be 740. And you have to be seven 700 to confirm that you can be there or 670 to be qualify to be competitive with other people to beat.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, yeah. So it sounds like very academically rigorous, like,

Sen Wang:

yeah

Jonathan Collaton:

it's very competitive.

Sen Wang:

Yeah, we have saying that. If you lose one mark, you probably will. Behind 10,000 people.

Jonathan Collaton:

Which is like, maybe not a ridiculous stat. Right. I mean, there's how many people are in China? 1.5 billion orsomething?

Sen Wang:

Yeah. 1.4

Jonathan Collaton:

1.4 Yeah. So yeah. 10,000 people one mark. That's Yeah, that's a lot to think about it. Alright, so then for you, how'd you do on that test? What was the plan after the test for you?

Sen Wang:

So after the test, I think a bunch of options. I can do engineering, which, was my dad and mom's job, okay, and kind of familiar with that. Another one is my personal preference, which is on PC, like designing some software, some games.

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh, a game developer?

Sen Wang:

Yeah, Kind of cool.

Jonathan Collaton:

No wonder we get along.

Sen Wang:

Yeah. But unfortunately, we didn't agree with each other, oh, I have to have a conversation with my dad and mom and say, I want to choose this. They say, Okay, this may not be a formal job, because in Chinese culture game is for play, but careers not for play. Right. Right, this kind of stereotype. So we had a conversation, and they pointed out that maybe medicine, I have to say medicine is not one of the option. because it's, it's very competitive. And it's not very interesting to me that time. But my parents have lots of experience social experience, say, okay, in any area, if you no matter, you know, war, no matter your peace time, people need the doctor. So you always have your job, you have something to do with the way to put food on the table. So it's very stable. That's the way you should consider, and I accept it. And I have to say, a plus they're off 24 bottles of beer helped me to make the decision.

Jonathan Collaton:

Damn, I should have brought some for us to have during this. Okay, so that's, like I see, you know, even though we're talking about the Chinese culture is maybe a little bit different. There is the same idea that your parents had that a lot of people here have, which is get a get an education that will get you a career that is good and stable. And we'll keep putting food on the table. Yeah, same idea over here. All right. So did you then have a choice of which school you went to? Like, which which area of China are you from that the school you go to? Is that nearby or further away?

Sen Wang:

We are kind of near Beijing. We only have like 140 kilometers away. So if we take the train probably 30 minutes.

Jonathan Collaton:

Fast train

Sen Wang:

Yeah. Fast train.

Jonathan Collaton:

Must be nice. Yeah, we don't have that. So yeah,

Sen Wang:

I think probably I have two choices. Either I go to Beijing, they have the best Medical University, or go to the best area in the medical school in my city. So I chose radiology medicine. At that time there interventional surgery just started. It's kind of new direction and the medical school in my city as number one in this areas. That's great. Yeah, so I chose that.

Jonathan Collaton:

Perfect. Okay, so, like, I know that I've seen some sort of, er type show where I should remember what radiology is, but remind me because I'm not remembering right now.

Sen Wang:

I, when people talk about radiology, it's very simple. Just X ray, CT scan, MRI. I don't know the full name of it.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. Does anybody? The I is for for imaging? Yeah, but i don't remember the other ones. Alrght.

Sen Wang:

Ultrasund, title telescope, those kind of things. And my major and what interests me was through the ended ultrasound or X ray, you can do a minor surgery, just very accurately penetrate the tumor and injector your medicine. Acute, acute tumor.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay. Yeah.

Sen Wang:

That's cool.

Jonathan Collaton:

So a lot...Like, specifically then cancer treatment is part of that. That was really interesting to you.

Sen Wang:

Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, great. And so you're What do we say about 19? When you start that?

Sen Wang:

Yeah, yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

And then how long would that schooling take? Cuz here, you would do like a four year degree and then you would apply to medical school? So what's it like?

Sen Wang:

They're totally five years.

Jonathan Collaton:

five years. Okay.So you could be out of there at, like, 24. So and, you're... I mean, for you, was that kind of the path that it just take the your five years and then you graduated, and then you went on from there?

Sen Wang:

Yes, exactly.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay. So all through school, did you ever have any sort of doubts or second guesses? Or are you pretty committed the whole time you like you knew that this was the right path for you to take on.

Sen Wang:

So at that time, I have another opportunity. Because as a young doctor, you wouldn't be very established yourself or live very quickly. You still have very low salary, right? You have to be growing In growing to be a chief or something, then you can have a decent life. But another way is being the sales representative for the pharmaceutical companies,

Jonathan Collaton:

okay. And those they typically hire people who've gone to medical school for that?

Sen Wang:

yeah. It's very attractive, their salary as much high as I mean, as a starting point, their salary is much higher than you what you can get from the hospital. And Madison is kind of competitive all the way from school to your career. And I think even 100 people may not have one people to be the chief Finally, and role has the power to decide who can take this surgery. And you can if you cannot take surgery, then how can you establish your experience and be a good doctor right? Is the same. So being a pharmaceutical sales representative may be more stable or confirmed life? Or the baselines high.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, so there's a little more appealing in some ways because of the financial benefits early on in your career.

Sen Wang:

Yeah, yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, so you get that opportunity. Did you take that? Or did you go into work at a hospital?

Sen Wang:

Um, to be honest, I'm very, I'm kind of not very expressive, which I think maybe the most important part of being a sales but

Jonathan Collaton:

like, you got to have that like, extraverty-salesy charisma?

Sen Wang:

Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

And you didn't think you had that?

Sen Wang:

I don't think I have that. I'm more like, Okay, give me a paper, I can do research. If you asked me to do a surgery for 18 hours, I can do that. And it's the most important part is the I feel medicine is very beautiful. When I see the cells from the telescope, I see material goes in and out. It's kind of artist art of painting to me. And when I do the surgery, starting from I brush my hands so I can feel when the water flow in my hand, my arms and two, I started to throw my scrap or the clothes or I don't know his English name, Jane Eyre and put my hand into it. And I roll. Nurse well how me to tie tied me up. And also when I have the plastic glove to you, my hand is kind of different feeling. Okay, I gonna do this. Okay, this is the day started. I still Mr. way of doing that. I never feel tired of it.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. So it's like, like, You're like an artist ready to go to work?

Sen Wang:

Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

That's so cool. Is it? Yeah, that's, it seems like you so you've got the competing idea of like, you could be a pharmacy sales rep, and set yourself up a little bit better financially, but it wasn't as appealing to you. And you really like the the artistry and the the beauty of medicine as you put it. And like you were good at research too. But you could do 18 hour surgery. So there's a lot of different different things at play there. Have you done an 18 hour surgery?

Sen Wang:

A 18 hours? Yes. Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

What was that for?

Sen Wang:

It's for a liver cancer. When I was intern on, there will be several rounds for a very complicated surgery for big tumor, lots of the blood vessel on it. So I never asked for any people to have a switch for me.

Jonathan Collaton:

You just keep going keep going? 18 hours of just cutting and...wow.

Sen Wang:

Even I just stand by and watch. What they are doing is very interesting to me.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay. All right. So so when you get into you start your career, you said you are like an intern or like a because here they would have like, you do your residency? Right. And so is it the same thing? So you have a number of years where you're kind of learning on the job, and then you're a full doctor?

Sen Wang:

Yeah. Okay.

Jonathan Collaton:

So how long is it that you're on the job? Kind of learning?

Sen Wang:

Two years? Two years? Two years?

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. Do you stay at the same hospital for the whole time?

Sen Wang:

Yes. Um, start from our clinical classes, we'll call it or I started, was that a hospital. And two, I left China. I was still working there.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay. All right. So how long then until like, because leaving China that's a big step. And that's where I think this conversation is headed to right so. So you're in China, you're you're working at this hospital. You've done your internship there. You start working there as a doctor, are you primarily doing surgery or is it a combination of surgery research

Sen Wang:

So the hospital worked with is a tertiary hospital. In a tertiary hospital. If you want your career to move one more step, surgery and research, you have to have both. So our supervisor would call us if they see the light is off the research. Lab. light is off at 12pm where are you are Why? Why the lights is off, are on to doing the cert doing the research right now. Are you do you want to move one more step? kind of thing like this.

Jonathan Collaton:

There's a lot of pressure like yeah, if you're not in surgery, and you're here you should be researching.

Sen Wang:

Yeah, a day time for surgery. Evening, you just read a chart. late in the night you do surgery. Now you do research.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, so like what's uh, how does like a shift work there? How many...in a seven day week? Do you work like 24 hour shifts? 18 hour shifts? How long do they typically?

Sen Wang:

Typically, you only need to work for eight hours. but it's my choice.

Jonathan Collaton:

But you would get in trouble if you weren't working extra hard doing research?

Sen Wang:

Yeah, it's very competitive. Like I said, it's very competitive/

Jonathan Collaton:

So it's like, kind of one of those unwritten things. We're like, sure. We only work eight hours. But like, if you want to get ahead, you better work sixteen. Okay. That's a lot. And there's you and all these other doctors who are sort of competing against you, because they want that same career progression. Yep. And so you've got to put in the work or you're not going to move up?

Sen Wang:

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. There is a story. What on impact me was, when we'll have we have a part we had a program. And when the chief retired, there are two deputies are competing for one position to be the next chief. They're both good. They're both on famous doctor in China. But they choose to hire externally, which is a little bit better. Surgeon surgeon. And I was shocked because I thought both of the deputies are really good. But I realized, okay, the hospitals development will not stop to wait for one person. If you have enough fast enough to catch up the hospital, then you lose game.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. So So even if the internal people are good, if there's someone slightly better, they're going to go with someone slightly better, because that brings up kind of the whole hospital. Yeah. Oh, interesting. Yeah, that's super competitive. Geez. All right. So how long is it then that you're working in that hospital before? you kind of start discussing leaving China for Canada? And why were you discussing that?

Sen Wang:

Ah, so not many years I practice we have a changing a strategy. Strategic changing. That's the time when care of quality, patient safety, that based on the US standards were introduced to China on we were young and we were asked do you want to shift your your role from a physician to quality care specialist, it's asked, but also a demand. China's culture we all listen to our supervisors, our country, the country needs you, the party needs you. What are you going to do? You have to say yes. So not only me, a lot of people need to switch their roles. So we are more focused on the quality of care. And then I started to notice on the western world we call Western world.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, well, I know, i'm the western world

Sen Wang:

Western world have much of a onced system, I'm in quality system. And which we we before just do something learn from our teachers, our supervisors is very experienced, and and write her rules some techniques they will never tell like secret things like they it's like if they know it, then they're always the best. Yeah, and so they wouldn't always teach you things no, wow. No, but but if you like write down every every every their technique and compare, you know, which is better. And I think Western in western world, why don't we see how to better let's say how to better prevent your patient to get infected. Post a surgery. And people have different ideas. They say okay, I might from my experience, or from this paper, blah blah, blah, but Western role we'll just read it down. Let's take the research and experience become the policy will follow that this is the system

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, more. You think more research goes into the system here and there. It's more like practice.

Sen Wang:

Yeah,I think so.

Jonathan Collaton:

Gotcha. And so did that kind of, were you a little like, disillusioned by that system where it was just based on what we've seen? And as opposed to based on what we've studied?

Sen Wang:

I think both. It's not a single factor.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay.

Sen Wang:

Yeah. Um, but what really pushed me to have the idea of going out of China is, there are a lot of changes happening in China. I feel like I'm the to one, one, or both of them maybe have a better life. Maybe learning more from the Western world, they are more experienced more systematic about it. So yeah, that's kind of one reason.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay. So So, it sounds like and correct me if I misinterpreted that, but like, it wasn't just about the job. It was about the lifestyle in China. At that point, things were changing?

Sen Wang:

Yeah. Um, I have some classmate from high school or middle school. When they went to, let's say, US, Canada, Australia. I can see their life from the social media. It's kind of balance between work and, and in the life. Yeah, yeah. But, but like I said, um, I probably need to wake up at six and 6:30 just a drive seven, just at a hospital start, do my work. 730 we'll have our meetings, our first meetings, and to 5:30. It should be out of work. But we need to work on go on to work. And to probably nine to 10.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, so like, very little work life balance, compared to what you were seeing with friends who are in like, the Western world.

Sen Wang:

Yeah, I think so. Yeah. That's very attractive to me.

Jonathan Collaton:

And I guess, like that, that's not really just affecting you, right? Because I know, at some point in there, you got married, and you had a child. And so I imagine like, it's one thing when you're young and maybe single and you're just working all day, sometimes you just got to do what you got to do, right to get where you want to be. But eventually, when you're married, and you have a family, it's no fun to not be home all the time.

Sen Wang:

Yeah, I'm also it's a, for example, when I was promoted to the system to the to the CEO, I have to do some prepare, lots of there were presentations about the development development strategy for hospital or something like that. That's 2014. And, yeah, that's the word copier. I have to work until 4am to finish the slides. And the result was my wife will still be awake to be with me. And we, we seldom missed a game because all the games finish at 4am. At a time as as long as I finished at the TV just done that the game is done. It's the same rhythm. And probably won't. I have to do that twice a week.

Jonathan Collaton:

Like all nighters basically twice a week to and it sounds like so you're the assistant to the CEO is of the hospital or have the specific unit in the hospital,

Sen Wang:

the hospital.

Jonathan Collaton:

So like you have what sounds like a very successful career there. That's to to be in a position like that. Sure. It's great, except two nights a week, you've got to be up to 4am doing presentations, like that's no.

Sen Wang:

Yeah. After that I experienced something. Like, in 2015, we have a disaster, a big explosion. And in our Beihai District, which is just a 50 kilometers or away from our hospital, and after the explosion, last hour, our classmate they are doctors, they saw the social media broadcasts something and they just no one told them to but they just drive to the hospital and be prepared. And after one hour just patient flow came and they got trade traded. But that night we were told not to tell me anything.

Jonathan Collaton:

Not to talk about the explosion.

Sen Wang:

No.

Jonathan Collaton:

Is this that like giant explosion that happened? That was all over?

Sen Wang:

Yeah, I I thought it's a nuclear. It's a mushroom...a mushroom thing.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. I've seen the videos. Yeah, it was like by a....an industrial area.

Sen Wang:

chemical

Jonathan Collaton:

chemical, chemical factory.

Sen Wang:

Yeah, chemical factory.

Jonathan Collaton:

And so like who's who's saying, is it? Is it the CEO of the hospital? Are they hearing this from the government to not talk about?

Sen Wang:

Uh, we were told I don't know who told them?

Jonathan Collaton:

You just know what you're told. Yeah.

Sen Wang:

Yeah. And when I think it's, we work overnight. And we going back to the where we live at 1030. And the TVs do broadcasting a cartoon,

Jonathan Collaton:

huh? Not even on the news there.

Sen Wang:

No.

Jonathan Collaton:

Even though like a lot of people nearby probably lost family members. Yeah, that explosion?

Sen Wang:

Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

And the government wouldn't let anyone talk about it.

Sen Wang:

No, no, we were and and the similar are things and I, the year, I decided to move out our one of the most famous surgeon got butchered by a patient. Yeah, that's not only that's not the first case in China. And

Jonathan Collaton:

Really, is that like, Why? Why do you think that type of thing happens?

Sen Wang:

Um, we have a kind of different health care system here, especially for the payment part. Here we pay tax, we got protected by the house insurance. No matter. I think no matter treatment, I need to get for free. Right. Because I pay tax pretty much.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. With the exception of some medications. I think treatments Yeah, all through taxes.

Sen Wang:

But in China, we have comprehensive health insurance. But they have a list of treatment, what do you can get for probably 70% or 70%, a cover bad garment. And those techniques or treatment are probably 10 years ago, the newest one will never be covered? Yeah, we in the hospital, we often see things like a family get cancer, and they see our suggestions. And come there, how many? How much they need to pay from their pocket? Probably 70% above up paid by their pocket. And the next up is the property agent. They are going to sell their property.

Jonathan Collaton:

Geez. So yeah, so like, medicine is a very, I guess doctors are and people in the system are well paid. So it's expensive to do the treatments.

Sen Wang:

Yeah. And normal people probably if they are not working in the healthcare system. They may not this may not know these stories. They can may just blame the doctors. Why are you making so much money and I cannot pay for it. But we are not able to explain what is the government doing? What How does the insurance run? properly? This is forbidden topic now in China. So when they have complaints, they have their Mat Time. Probably nurses and doctors out there targets

Jonathan Collaton:

Geez.

Sen Wang:

Yeah. Wow.

Jonathan Collaton:

This is all new to me.

Sen Wang:

Yeah. I know.

Jonathan Collaton:

So yeah. I guess that would make you consider maybe I should go to where all my friends in the Western world are having a good time seemingly on social media. Is this all on WeChat? You're seeing this because from my I've heard like Facebook is banned in China.

Sen Wang:

Yeah. All from WeChat.

Jonathan Collaton:

We have a lot of international students at U of T so I sometimes they promote things on WeChat they shouldn't be promoting and we find out about it when translates it lets me know and I say You can't do that. So, um, okay, so yeah, a few different things going on. And and then ultimately, how do you decide like, Okay, I'm, you know, you and your family you want to leave? But how do you What's the like route to do that? Because in some cases, you can just apply to immigrate and things work out but in other cases, doesn't always work out. Right. So what was your kind of strategy? And like, why Canada?

Sen Wang:

Um, uh, not too many options for me, Australia, US, Canada, New Zealand, four countries. Most most popular. I feel like New Zealand and Australia is more expensive to me.

Jonathan Collaton:

Like the lifestyle there?

Sen Wang:

lifestyle there, yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay.

Sen Wang:

And us it's kind of I heard lots of the gunshot cases. I'm gonna be scared. Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

Interesting. So like the violence...are we talking about like mass shootings or like even just regular crime?

Sen Wang:

Regular crime. Yeah, to me, like people have guns. I have seen them in China, but not that popular. I'm not sure if this is our government, just a propaganda to say, okay, Americans is dangerous people have guns. But I also see the laws that the laws allow people to have have guns freely so it's a bit scary to me if I get something some people mad at me, are they going to kill me? Buy guns, so easy.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. Okay, so Canada seems like you narrow down on Canada. Yeah. Beside Canada's where you want to go? I don't know, I always I'm so curious whenever somebody moves to Canada, of all the places in the country you could pick it's I know our populations, not huge, but the country is very wide. And you end up in London, Ontario at the University of water. Sorry, Western University. How did that happen? Like, what about that program was interesting? And I guess why, like, could you have just come to Canada and started working? Or did you have to go to school in order to get a job here? What was the What happened there?

Sen Wang:

Uh, it's depends on if you have a PR or not, right? Permanent resident.

Jonathan Collaton:

And I guess, right, like, you don't get that until you've actually lived here. Right?

Sen Wang:

Yeah. Um, so I, there are three ways we can move to Canada. One is I have enough money to do the investment. And I can immigrate. Unfortunately, I don't have that money. second way is I am skilled worker, okay, then I can move here. But I have to be a physician to be a skilled worker. But if I have to be licensed here, I have to be a PR, I have to have a PR so it can't kind of conflict to each other. I want to be school more.

Jonathan Collaton:

You know, it's funny, I had a friend who had that happened. I'm going to have him on at some point. His family came from Iraq, and his father had to redo his residency here. But he had to do it years later after I guess he got his permanent his PR. So I'm kind of understanding now like that pathway. Yeah. Yeah.

Sen Wang:

yeah, I started away is doing a master program and Ontario have some pathway for master graduates, they can get faster immigrant.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay. Yeah. So like being working at a university I know that for for students. And maybe it's just undergrad, you can get you can work for up to three years on your student visa after you graduate. So is it that same type of thing where you work for three years while your immigration stuff is processing? Or is it like a straight up? If you do the Masters, you can...

Sen Wang:

okay, there are two set pathways, okay, for this. One is you work for three years in three. You don't need to work three years, but in your three years visa, you just need to work full time for one year, then you are qualify, probably to some score, then you can be drafted from the pool. That's the federal government. What are they are doing a narraway as the Ontario Provincial they have a stream for the master graduates. If you are a master graduate, they they can nominate you with Provincial Nominee Nominee Program. And they can nominate you to be in the federal pool is kind of similar.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay. So which one do you end up with?

Sen Wang:

Because I can have both.

Jonathan Collaton:

So, like, why'd you pick the the program you picked at Western was? What

Sen Wang:

Public Health

Jonathan Collaton:

public health Masters of Public Health? What about that program interested you over some of the other options?

Sen Wang:

I'm considering my background in the last 15 years, the hospital health care is the only thing I know. Right. So I will choose something

Jonathan Collaton:

pretty good skillset, but it is a limited skill set.

Sen Wang:

Yeah. We have seen like, when we may know how buddy run how the digestive system and the cardio system run, but we don't know the bank account too much.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, okay. So you're, you're very narrow. I mean, knowing how the body runs pretty big scope of, of, of information as well. But yeah, it's, uh, if that's all you know, then that's what you know. And yeah, you got to find a pathway.

Sen Wang:

Yeah. So So I applied to several University of Florida same programs, either house administration, or public health. So I applied to UBC, University of British Columbia are Fraser. McMaster, University of Toronto, also, Western Ontario, and one in the US is Johns Hopkins. Okay, so I got UBC. I got Western Ontario's and Johns Hopkins. But what are we talking about? Baltimore and US is kind of not possible

Jonathan Collaton:

John hopkins was like a backup plan. Because Yeah, US was iffy for you.

Sen Wang:

Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay. And that's a prestigious school. Right. So you know, you could have done it right.

Sen Wang:

I I just feel I kind of want to prove myself that you can be there.

Jonathan Collaton:

Right. Exactly. No, I get that.

Sen Wang:

My own arrogance haha.

Jonathan Collaton:

hey, be arrogant, it's all about your career. So, okay, so you get into those schools and you pick Western go I pick Western and why why Western in particular?

Sen Wang:

First of all, it's just a one year program. I think financially it's a wise decision.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. , I guess no matter where you went, you would be paying international tuition, which is always more Yeah, significantly more. So yeah. One year obviously. Sounds pretty good. A and like you said, you don't know the bank account. You just know the body?

Sen Wang:

Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah.Alright, so you pick Western? And then, like that program? How'd you find it?

Sen Wang:

online?

Jonathan Collaton:

No. I mean, how, like, how was the program for you? You enjoyed it?

Sen Wang:

Yeah, I enjoyed it very much. This is the first time that our instructor we just her, we just hear about how does a Western teacher teach in a classroom? We were just listeners in back in China, but not when I sitting in where I sit, and I become the speaker, and the teacher just to intrigue, our thinking, and to let us talk about our ideas, experiences, the way we learn from each other. That's the first time in my life.

Jonathan Collaton:

Wow, yeah, yeah, that's, that's, that's got to be. And you're like, late 20s, early 30s. By the time this is happening,

Sen Wang:

yeah. 32

Jonathan Collaton:

32. Yeah. So that's got to be pretty different. Right at 32. This whole new style of education, basically.

Sen Wang:

Yeah, well, one night, told in China, I thought I could be change a little bit of style, like the people talk let that student talk. But unfortunately, I haven't done that. Now. Then I become a student. Again, I have this lucky life to take this experience. It's really good.

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh, fantastic. Okay, so you do that program? It's one year. And I guess the plan at that point in time for you like you were gonna do the program and then try to get the immigration stuff figured out and stay in Canada and then bring your family over?

Sen Wang:

Yes. That's the plan.

Jonathan Collaton:

So how do you like when you done the program? I know because an attached to that program as well. They offered they they're emailing all the time with all these jobs that are available, right. So how did you end up finding a job after the program? Was it through one of the postings that the university was sending around? Or did you just go look on your own and find one,

Sen Wang:

um, after graduate or approaching their graduation, I have two choices. One is staying in the house and minutes are staying the popular house. Another one is going back to the hospital, do some administration job because I in the last eight years, I did less clinical practice but more administration. When I left China, I was the director of the EDI, emergency department and outpatient department. I was the director of both of them. So I have lots of the administration experience that I can use. If I choose public health, I'll be probably new graduate, new one to the road. I lose my strengths.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yes. Right. So all that experience doesn't count as much because it's sort of different. Different areas.

Sen Wang:

Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

At any point did you ever consider going back into like, surgery?

Sen Wang:

Some time, in my dream I have. But life is...when you have a family. You cannot just consider your own success. If I go back to surgery, I probably like Like you said, I have to do the exam, all the exam. I don't need to go back to medical school. I can just go for the exam. But after I get PR after I get the exams, I have the residency and more training on surgery, probably eight or 10 years. And my family cannot wait that along

Jonathan Collaton:

okay. And and this was already like, you were going to be happy doing this type of the like hospital admin stuff. You enjoyed that anyway. And so, like, Why go through all this extra effort for something else that you enjoy when you found something you enjoy? That's less extra education?

Sen Wang:

Yeah, I think it's finally it's the same. I feel like when I was surgeon, I treat people one person two persons, things like that. But one I manage health care quality and processes, improved hospital quality. I feel like I'm treating probably 100 or 1000 patients I same time. And because of our work, people have less pain, less affection, they have shorter length of stay in the hospital, they can go back quickly with their families. And they will come in the hospital with a crying face, but go out with a smiling face. That's, that's the same.

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh, I love that. One of those. One of those is going to be a quote from this episode for sure. That's a really great way to think about things because people like me Don't think about that, right? We just, you only see the doctor who treats you in some cases and, and so you just like that's the person who's helped you, but like you're helping the whole system, so that everybody's there for a shorter time span, like everything you just said, Really? I can't sum it up better than you did. So I'll just, you know, thank you. Yeah, no, that was good. Very good. All right. So you wanted to go back into not the public health side, but into like, the administration of hospitals. So leaving Western, you're in London, Ontario, and is the first time you've lived in Canada, right. So you could you could go anywhere, right? I this is fascinates me always, like, how do people pick exactly where they're picking to move? Like I have, I grew up in Toronto, I moved an hour away for university work there for a bit that I'm back in Toronto, now. It's a major city. So there's jobs here for me, but I always am curious for people who like, you're not really tied to anywhere, right? So how do you pick where you're going to go and where you're gonna bring your family?

Sen Wang:

Um, I chose Toronto, because I thought here will be have more opportunities. The number of hospitals are here. And more hospital means more opportunities, right? Yeah, to me. So I didn't rely too much on our programs to introducing job to me. So I just do my own search. I feel like Toronto posted seven times more job opportunities you hospital than what I have in London or in Hamilton. So that's the reason.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. And I guess those are two like the other major centers, right? Because Hamilton's got the hospital kind of attached to McMaster. And that's kind of known as a medical center. But Toronto's how many hospitals are in the city? Here? It's a lot, right?

Sen Wang:

Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

Like, I know, they're all together. Yeah, for the most part. So

Sen Wang:

University Avenue haha.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, exactly. Right on University Avenue. Okay. So what's the role you end up settling on or not settling on, but like, what's the role that you apply for that you get that you're excited for.

Sen Wang:

Um, so I specifically look at process improvement, quality improvement, and this kind of key words. And that's the strategy, I do my research, I also do make some updates on my resume, to highlight this part. Because I feel like if I only talk about operation or administration, my English is a barrier. When we talk about, I say, how to run a hospital, I can talk very good in Chinese, but I'm not as confident as I talk in English. Right? Um, so but but talking about clinical processes. I thought medicine is a language. Even people speak as a as an English speaker from a baby to probably 50 years old person, and they have fluent English, they may know less Madison language that I do. Right? So this is my advantage. Even now, when I talk about, let's say, we call called STEMI, which is the process to treat heart heart attack in 90 minutes. I'm very knowledgeable, I anticipate what is next step, and that exactly the next step. I can have a common sense with all the nurses and lots of the doctors. And I know what they think they know. I know what they think. So lots of the assumption is, is in place.

Jonathan Collaton:

yeah. Once you build up that rapport, like people just trust that , whatever you're saying is the right thing to say. And so just do it.

Sen Wang:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So that's, that's all I planned all of that. So

Jonathan Collaton:

that's good. Cuz, you know, a lot of people don't. It's so interesting how you, you had to look at what to you you were saying is kind of like a, your language skills in some areas are great and and other areas, not as good as other people. So you look at the area where you're strong in and you decide I'm going to go and do this because I can do it better than other people. And language won't be a problem because I'm that good at that. Yeah, that's so fascinating, right? Because a lot of other people don't have those same things. They worry about it. Or maybe we do and maybe it's just different, like yeah, no student life, but I don't know the Academic Advising at the university. So I just keep looking for jobs in student life because that's where my skillset lies. So it's really the same thing.

Sen Wang:

Yeah, it's the same

Jonathan Collaton:

You've enlightened me. Wow. Okay. All right. So what, which hospital do you end up at.

Sen Wang:

I applied a Scarborough house and broke and they hired me on very appreciate that.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. Fantastic. And now, you've been in that same same spot for a few years since you started there?

Sen Wang:

Yeah, two years,

Jonathan Collaton:

two years. Okay. And what's, uh, and so you're doing the, like working on health processes?

Sen Wang:

Yeah. Health processes, and also relative relatively related projects, related products like the COVID. And pandemic?

Jonathan Collaton:

yeah. What an interesting time this must have been for you.

Sen Wang:

Yeah, because we have lots of experience in SARS. And also, the pandemic happened before happening in Canada happening in China. So I have lots of the information, right experience I can use and how to build a faster screening process, how to separate patient flow, how to isolate, to protect it from an outbreak, those kind of issues.

Jonathan Collaton:

Were you in school when SARShappened?

Sen Wang:

No. But in 2003, the hospital I after I worked with is we call the major army to fight against a SARS because they they were sent to an outbreak hospital. And they accumulate lots of the experiences. And unfortunately, I have the lucky life to learn from there.

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh, it seems like taught you in some cases. Oh, very cool. All right. So now you're, you've made it, you've got this job. And you're your wife and daughter here. And life in Toronto is good.

Sen Wang:

Yep. And we are really enjoying it.

Jonathan Collaton:

Fantastic. Now, do you have kind of long term ambitions about where you think your career might go? I mean, I would anticipate that you're likely to stay in medicine. It's not like you're going to it not that you would ever plan any way to do some major shift and, like go to pharmaceutical sales over here or anything like that. Do you think you're gonna stay doing the same type of thing you're, you're in and just kind of work your way up the chain? Or is there any other area that interest you that you think you might go into one day?

Sen Wang:

Um, to be honest, not exactly. The first day I came to Canada was on 2017. August 13, at 2am and 9am. I was already in the hallway of Sick Kids. So I'm hospital guy. Yeah

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh, geez. What? Like what how were you in the hospital in six hours? Seven hours?

Sen Wang:

Yeah, I just did take a little bit nap and take the Go train.

Jonathan Collaton:

And you just went walked around just to see what it's like?

Sen Wang:

Yeah, I just want to see the hospitals.

Jonathan Collaton:

Interesting.That's commitment. Good for you. I kind of get that though. Whenever, whenever me Natasha traveling, I like go and visit universities in other cities, because I want to see what they're like and see how they'redifferent. I took a tour. When I was actually not whith Natasha with my sister. We were touring Cambridge University in the UK. And it happened to be the one day we were in Cambridge. It was their open house. And I was like I'm a prospective student. Can I see a residence please? And they gave me a tour of residence because I just was so curious. What's it like over there? Because I had worked in residences here. So I kindred spirits, you and I, I understand what you're saying I, I probably would have taken a nap first or a longer nap than you would take it before ending up in the hospital. But good for you.

Sen Wang:

Thank you. I feel so unfortunate for the audience because they cannot see how how I smile with you. Yeah, I feel like okay, this is the person I like.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, no, we're getting along. This is great. So it's that's a great story. so far. I'm you know, hopeful that some people who are considering medicine will hear this and think about what their path is going to be like, or particularly people who want to go into things like being a physician or surgeon. Because I know a lot of students particularly at U of T who want to go into that. But it's so competitive run and not everyone's going to end up being that. But there are other great pathways. It sounds like to work in medicine where you can help people and from what you said, You're not just helping one person at a time you get to help 1000 people at the same time. So yeah, great.

Sen Wang:

Yeah, I think I really appreciate that people are passionate about medicine, health care. Um, I have to say, except for the clinical area, there are thousand ways ways you can do that; being a process improvement. facilitator, being a project manager, all kinds of ways. As long as you have that mindset or with a heart, you treat people. I remember in the public health program, we have a survey. So a list of 10 things that you you consider was the greatest thing happened in the last 10 years. We have climate change, we have some some some like social Madison, we have. We mean, we mean campaign, something like that. And I think among 60 people, I was the only one choose emergency preparedness and response. People laugh at me like we are, we are making some policies that can save millions people's lives can promote people means people's life where choosing so small amount of people, I say, okay, probably one policy is effective for 99% of the people. But we cannot standing there, we are so successful for the 99%. And unfortunately, we cannot save the 1%. If that is the case, and the one to go there and hold their hands to hold the baseline. You're not alone. You are not 1%, you are a person, have life, have families, have people rely on you. We're gonna save you, no matter how no matter I'm a physician to prescribe medicine for you, no matter I'm going to do surgery for you no matter or I just take care of you by promoting processes, or just a beaut a non faction room for you as a project manager, I would do that. Hmm. If I think if our student have that kind of heart, no matter they go, they're saving lives.

Jonathan Collaton:

powerful word Sen. So I think we're gonna have to end it there then.

Sen Wang:

Thank You.

Jonathan Collaton:

You know, you You said you love stories, and now a bunch of people are gonna get to hear yours. So thank you so much for coming on and sharing today.

Sen Wang:

Thank you for having me.

Jonathan Collaton:

All right now we are well acquainted with sens career path. And before I get into any more about sin, I just want to clarify something I said during the interview. When Sen and I were talking about WeChat, I said that sometimes our international students at U of T where I work, promote things they aren't allowed to promote on WeChat. And the things that they promote are third party services that are trying to get students to pay for supports that are already provided by the University for free. Things like immigration, advising and the Writing Center. So I just want to clarify that because I realized while editing, it was pretty vague, and it left a lot open to interpretation. Now getting back to Sen, most of what he said in his interview was news to me as well as you because I don't really know send all that well. I met him through my wife when she was attending the same Master of Public Health Program at Western University. And we've only really had a few opportunities to get to know one another. When Natasha and I were brainstorming people for me to interview, she recommended Sen. She went on and on about how great Sen is. And to be honest, I'm not sure who she's more in love with, me or him. But she's right. He was a great interview. And he has a very interesting story. So now that we all know a lot more about sens journey, what can we learn from it? Early in the interview Sen said that he wanted to be a game developer, but his parents said games were for play, not work. They told him doctors are needed during war and peace time. And it was a stable career where he could always put food on the table. So when he was younger, Sen's parents wanted what was best for him, and give him the best advice they had. Later in the interview, I asked him if he ever considered becoming a surgeon again once he was in Canada, and he talked about how that would affect his family. He and his family wanted to move here, and they were apart for a year while he was doing that master's program at Western. He didn't want them to have to wait Well, he redid the necessary certifications in Canada, which could have had him hired anywhere he was needed. To give some context to the possible distance. I have another friend from Toronto whose father was a doctor in Iraq. And after immigrating to Canada, he had to redo his residency in order to become a doctor, and he got hired to work in Thompson, Manitoba. If you're not familiar with Thompson, the fastest way to drive there from Toronto is 28 hours. It's roughly 3000 kilometers or 1800 miles away from Toronto. I don't know if Sem would have ended up in that same kind of scenario. But if that's the kind of distance he may have been faced with, it's easy to see why he declined to look at surgery as an option. But the point I'm trying to make is that I see a connection between how his parents advised him when he was younger, and the family that he has to consider now when making career decisions in Canada. Both of these examples We'll show the importance of many of us put on family when it comes to our careers. The people who love you want you to have a stable career and never worry about putting food on the table. And if you can find a job where the people you love are cared for and happy and you enjoy the work, it often doesn't matter if the job is not exactly what you thought you wanted. it can still fit into your lifestyle and make you happy. Another lesson from Sen is that sometimes we might be forced out of one career into another, but we can still make the best of it. When Sen was asked to change jobs from a surgeon to a quality care specialist, it didn't feel like he had much of a choice in the matter. If he'd never been asked, aka told to make that change. It sounds like he'd probably still be a surgeon today. But it did happen and send him what the change ruin the hard work that he had done. He took his new role and worked his way up to the role of assistant to the hospital CEO, and eventually the role of director of emergency and patient department. I'm no expert on hospital staffing structures. But I've seen enough Grey's Anatomy to know that he was a pretty important guy. So why was he so successful? On top of being a pretty smart guy. I think it's probably because he didn't dwell on what he might have lost, but instead looked at what he might have gained. We heard Sen speak passionately about how now we have the ability to impact care for hundreds and maybe thousands of patients by improving policies and processes in health care. Hospitals are in his blood. They were in China, and they are in Canada. Although he's helping the sick and injured get better in a different way than he was before. He still gets to help those who show up with a frown leave with a smile. It sounds like he's made the absolute best of the hand he was dealt. Well, that is all for this week's episode of career crossroads. And I hope you enjoyed hearing about Sen's career path as much as I did. I'd like to encourage you to subscribe to Career Crossroads on Apple podcasts or Spotify, or whatever your favorite podcast app is. And if you're listening directly from the career Crossroads website, you can click on the subscribe button on the top right of the webpage, and it will bring you directly to any of those apps where you can subscribe. Subscribing ensures that you get the newest episode right when it's available each week instead of waiting for it to be listed by each podcast directory. And if you're sad that this episode is over, go and follow us on Instagram at career_crossroads on LinkedIn at career Crossroads podcast or find me personally on twitter @JCollaton there's some handy buttons right at the top of the podcasts website right beside the subscribe button. In fact, that'll bring you directly to those pages. I hope you come back next week where we will hear from Tyler who left his university program after his first year when he realized it wasn't going to get him the career that he wanted. He then attended a private media and broadcasting college and now has a career working for Sirius XM NHL network radio.