As the new director of acute care at the Meadow Lake Hospital, Aaron Khan is a busy man. Recently, however, Aaron took time to speak with Northern Pride about his new career, his background in health care and what it’s like to raise four daughters.
Q: What do you do here at the Meadow Lake Hospital?
A: As director of acute care services, I am responsible for strategic direction, leadership, program development, performance improvement, risk management, quality improvement, financial management, and support of all aspects of the acute nursing units for nursing operations and clinical practice within the Meadow Lake Hospital.
Q: So it’s sort of a managerial role?
A: Yes, for the nurses, as well as the admitting staff, the support staff. If there are things going on in the facility, the other department heads can come to me and we can troubleshoot together to find the answer. Pretty much I’m responsible, not for the entire facility, but I work with the teams or the different departments to make sure we provide the best service to our clients and residents.
Q: When did you start in your current role?
A: I started June 6 of this year, but first I went to North Battleford for my orientation.
Q: What’s your background in this line of work?
A: I’m a registered nurse and I’m also a biomedical engineer. I have a Master’s in biomedical engineering, and an RN degree. I try to help my team as a front line worker if I need to, so I also try to stay up-to-date in terms of my nursing skills. Sometimes it’s hard as a manager because you don’t get the time, but I try to reach out when needed and, if I have time, I will come onto the floor to help the team and to help my patients.
Q: Did you always envision yourself being involved in health care?
A: Absolutely. As I mentioned, I did my Master’s in biomedical engineering and, in one of my previous positions, I worked with a group of physicians in Detroit, Michigan who were doing research into cancer – breast cancer and colon cancer. I coordinated their research for five years. I looked into many ways to help patients, into new ways we can treat cancer, and it was my passion to do it. We were able to do a lot of research and publish some articles there. I always have, since childhood, tried to help people, and I believe the health care profession is about helping others and making sure you provide the best care. I want to help my patients, I want to help my clients, I want to help my community.
Q: Did you ever see yourself in an administrative role opposed to being a front line worker?
A: This is not my first role as a manager. I have held previous management roles in different capacities, which helped me. Sometimes people don’t want to take on these kinds of roles, but I love it. It allows me to see the whole picture. If you’re working in a specific unit, you’re responsible for about four or five patients. But, on the management side, you get to see what’s going in in your entire facility. What’s going on in OR and how it’s going to affect ER, how many people you have in ER and how it’s going to affect our inpatient. You can see the broad picture and can troubleshoot, and work with your team to come up with a plan to provide the best care. Yes, it has its challenges but, in the meantime, I really enjoy it. I have a great team, I really like the staff, the senior management and there’s a lot of support from the community.
Q: How did you come to be in Meadow Lake? Was it simply for the employment opportunity?
A: Definitely the opportunity was one thing, but I have worked in northern communities before. I’ve worked in northern Manitoba and really enjoyed my time there. I grew up in a small community as a child and can see the benefits. Everyone knows each other, there’s love and affection, and there is a sense of community. Before coming to this position, I was the zone manager for the Edmonton zone in Alberta Health Services. I had staff in six different hospitals, and I really liked the position. But, when I saw this opportunity, I knew it would be perfect because my goal has always been to work in a smaller community.
Q: So, do you live here in town?
A: I do Monday to Friday, but my goal is to eventually move my family here from Edmonton. My kids go to private school, so the plan is to gradually move them to the schooling system here.
Q: What do you enjoy about the Meadow Lake community outside the hospital?
A: It’s a really loving community. I’ve made a lot of friends, and summer was a good time to do a lot of fishing. We have great places to do exercise, and I love going to pick berries and to the farmer’s market for fresh vegetables.
Q: Where are you from originally?
A: Originally, I’m from Pakistan. I immigrated to Canada about 14 years ago. My spouse is from here and my goal was originally to go back home, but when you have kids it’s not so easy. I still have family members back home, so I try to visit them every year or so, but all my kids were born here, my spouse is from here and I am Canadian now – I have Canadian citizenship – so I will be living the rest of my life here.
Q: When you first came to Canada, what stood out to you as a major cultural shift?
A: Luckily my spouse was already here and her family was here, so I had a lot of support. I think Canada is very much a multicultural country. We have people from all over the globe, all different nationalities, so you are able to find your place. It is such a great country for people to reach their potential and has a lot to offer for everyone. It was the right decision for me to come.
Q: How did you meet your wife?
A: My wife is from the same country I am from, but her dad immigrated to Canada in the 1960s. He was a professor. Culturally we’re the same, and we knew each other.
Q: Do you have any pastimes?
A: When I have time, I try to play some sort of soccer or cricket on the weekends. I also like to take part in family gatherings, read and I love to travel, but that is not always easy or always cheap.
Q: Where have you travelled to already?
A: I’ve been to France, Germany, Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Middle East, pretty much all of North America, but I haven’t been to Atlantic Canada yet. I’d like to go to P.E.I. I hear it’s very beautiful, and it’s my goal to visit there one day.
Q: Tell me more about your family.
A: My wife’s name is Tabassum and we have four daughters – Areen, Sarah, Selina and Myra. Tabassum used to work for Canadian Diabetes, but right now she’s taking time off to be with the kids.
Q: What’s it like to live in a house full of girls?
A: I’m outnumbered. No, it’s amazing. I love my kids. They are the purpose of my life. I don’t have a son, so I don’t know how it feels, but I’d say I’ve been very blessed.
Q: What’s the best advice you have ever received?
A: The best advice I ever received came from my grandpa. No job is small. If you’re working, work hard and give your 100 per cent.