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Lessons Learned with Allan Macdonald

Welcome to the “Lessons Learned” edition with Allan Macdonald, Director of Student Health and Wellness at Ryerson University. Allan is also a Lecturer at the Innovative Business and Practice Management (BPM) curriculum in the department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto. Allan is a registered physiotherapist and graduated with an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University. He is also the president of the Ontario Physiotherapy Association (OPA) and a current board member of the South Riverdale community health center in downtown Toronto. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to chat with Allan and discuss the growing relationship between healthcare and business.

Allan shared some wonderful lessons about getting an MBA and the outlook of healthcare in the next few years. You can listen to the full entertaining podcast HERE while we provide you with a summary of the top 5 lessons


Lesson 1: Is an MBA Necessary for Physiotherapists Interested in Business?

Allan says the decision to pursue an MBA is very context specific. It can depend on multiple factors which may be different for each individual. For Allan, working in downtown Toronto and its hyper-educated environment meant that he required formal leadership training. MBA was essentially a prerequisite to enter a leadership role. Without his MBA, his current position at Ryerson University would have been impossible to achieve. For physiotherapists, Allan states that there is no need for an MBA to open up an independent practice. However, in order to navigate your way through a large corporation and move up the leadership ranks, Allan notes that formal training is beneficial.

Lesson 2: The Commitment of an MBA

Allan reports that the factors regarding the length of the MBA and deciding whether to pursue it full-time or part-time is another context-specific discussion. When Allan first decided to write the GMAT, he did a rudimentary cost-benefit calculation and asked himself if the boost in earnings with an MBA was worth it. In consulting, the salaries may have been higher but for the healthcare market, possessing an MBA does not result in a massive change in compensation. Allan did his calculations and found out that it was in fact worth it for him to achieve a MBA, however he recommends that anyone interested in an MBA should do the same calculations he did. They should ask themselves what they anticipate their salary will be without an MBA for the next 15 years and then take a look at the projected salary with an MBA. Based on the results of this calculation, it is much easier to decide whether an MBA is truly worth it.

Lesson 3: The Future of the Physiotherapy Profession

The future of physiotherapy is exciting and growing constantly, which makes Allan wonder about the role of technology in this changing landscape. It is important to consider that as physiotherapists, which aspects of our profession are easily amenable to being replaced by technology and which activities will be augmented by the advent of technology. Additionally, Allan ponders whether there are areas of the profession that will be immune to automation, such as interpersonal skills and the creativity displayed by physiotherapists. Allan mentions that all physiotherapists should be cognizant of the importance of technology and consider the effects that it may have to either augment or detract from their current role.

Lesson 4: Benefits of Joining the OPA

As president of the OPA, Allan emphasizes that there are plenty of benefits of joining the professional association. These include the tangible benefits such as access to a well-known and well-regarded insurance program, access to the various resources such as the new graduate toolkit and access to the OPA staff. Allan notes that there are many intangible benefits of being part of a broader collective such as the OPA. The active support you’re able to provide as a volunteer can serve as a platform to further advance and grow the profession. Additionally, the ability to network with physiotherapists across Ontario is an excellent opportunity which arises by joining a professional association.

Lesson 5: Ontario Is Open for Business

With the latest election in Ontario, we now have a Conservative government in place and Allan notes that it is important to pay attention to the changing political landscape. The Conservative party has a couple of slogans, most notably that “Ontario is Open for Business.” With the newfound changes in liquor regulations to allow alcohol to be sold at corner stores, Allan states that the pro-business stance is evident for the Conservatives. It is important for physiotherapists to pay attention to politics in Ontario, especially with the Conservatives enacting legislature to allow greater business to occur. The healthcare payment model may also be impacted by the government, potentially changing from our current model to a multi-payer model, which Allan says may be a change made in order to recoup the 6 billion dollar deficit currently faced by Ontario. Ultimately, physiotherapists should stay aware of the changing legislature and regulations in order to provide the best patient care and to potentially reap the benefits of Ontario being open for business.

These were a glimpse of some of the great lessons that we took away from Allan! For the full podcast, you can access it HERE.

Allan Macdonald is Director of Student Health and Wellness at Ryerson University, a registered physiotherapist and has completed his  MBA from the Schulich School of Business.


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