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Alumni Profile: Jesse Sales

Director of Health, Northern Health Authority, British Columbia


MHA Alum, Class of 2023

Q1: What is your name, and what is your profession?

My name is Jesse Sales from Prince Rupert, British Columbia. I am a Registered Nurse, having completed my Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. I’ve had the opportunity to work in diverse settings across British Columbia from the lower mainland to the Okanagan and back home to the north… A couple years into my career I was appointed to a leadership role at a private nursing home, which sparked my interest in leadership. My journey took me through various positions in the Okanagan, but I always felt drawn to the north. Eventually, I returned home to work in primary care in Quesnel, British Columbia.

During a period when my personal life was stagnant, I decided to deepen my understanding of Indigenous health. This led me to manage a mobile primary care team in Prince Rupert, a collaborative initiative between the First Nation Health Authority and Northern Health. This role was particularly challenging during COVID-19. Subsequently, I took on the role of Director of Care at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital. In this role I’ve been responsible for acute care clinical operations across three sites in Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii for the past two years.

Q2: Why did you choose the MHA and how has the program helped your career?

I chose the MHA because it was a prerequisite for my current position. At the time of applying, I was also in a personal phase where I could invest time in advancing my education. After thorough research, I found that the MHA aligned with my career goals and lifestyle. The program’s curriculum resonated with my role and offered insights into British Columbia’s healthcare system. While I’m not particularly academic, I needed a program relatable to my work to gain the most knowledge. The MHA has significantly advanced my career. I have been able to apply many program aspects to my daily tasks. For instance, I recently submitted a business case using the skills I acquired during the MHA and received approval for a project I had been passionate about. Furthermore, the connections I made, thanks to the blended mode of the program, have been invaluable. There are potential collaborations in the pipeline, and the instructors, being industry leaders, could play a role in my future career trajectory.

Q3: How has the program worked for you, considering work, travel, and the blend of online and offline modes?

The balance of work, study, and travel was challenging. The first year’s workload was manageable while working full-time. However, the second year was hectic with additional assignments and my capstone project. The course delivery, with its mix of online and in-person sessions, was valuable. While the in-person classes facilitated connection-building, some courses were appropriate for online delivery. Travel, especially during winter, added to the challenges due to unpredictable weather in the north. Financially, some bursaries and work support helped to offset the costs. The travel demands and the balance between online and in-person courses require realism, as both modes have their unique advantages and challenges.

There are certainly some logistical challenges if you live outside the Lower Mainland, but I think it’s worth it. Although there was an added cost for me compared to people that lived locally, the return on investment will pay off through my career, and I think that will be beneficial.

Q4: Could you speak about Indigenous safety and diversity in the context of the MHA?

The program acknowledges and respects diversity and diverse opinions. Our cohort was diverse with people from multiple backgrounds and diverse opinions. Everyone’s opinion was included and respected. While initially I felt a bit out of place, over time I found camaraderie and understanding among my peers. I was well supported by the program staff and faculty who were willing to adapt in special circumstances and make improvements to the courses. Regarding Indigenous safety, while our class did have some Indigenous representation, I believe the program could benefit from more Indigenous perspectives. We learned a lot through our courses and gained a lot, for example, from Harmony Johnson’s course (SPHA 512 Indigenous Health and Cultural Safety). How she taught, her way of thinking, and her world values were very valuable. But increased understanding of Indigenous cultural safety truly requires more students with Indigenous knowledge and lived experience. While the program is making efforts, feedback from more Indigenous participants would further refine and strengthen it.

Q5: Do you have advice for Indigenous students considering the MHA?

I’d strongly encourage Indigenous students to join the MHA. Given the growing Indigenous population in BC and the program’s reputation, it’s essential to have more Indigenous voices influencing healthcare. Many MHA graduates hold influential positions in BC’s healthcare system. For the program to remain top-tier and to improve BC’s health system requires more involvement from Indigenous students. There might be logistical challenges, especially for those in remote areas, but the benefits outweigh the cons.

If you are in the program, you really get the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of the complex, BC health system. You can apply the tools that you learned to leverage your knowledge and influence system level changes.


Read more stories about our alumni and where the MHA can take you