Career success | MBA interns tackle projects for Vancouver Coastal Health


Vancouver Coastal Health has a rich history with Sauder's Business Career Centre. Each year, the organization has provided two to five UBC MBA students with the opportunity to apply their business skills in an area of their interest.

In June 2010, VCH welcomed on-board a team of five students from Sauder's MBA Internship Program. Each student was assigned a consolidation project of their own to manage for the Medical Imaging Department.

Increasing demand for medical imaging services coupled with a shortage of technologists posed a huge challenge for health care providers across the Lower Mainland. Consolidation of these services to improve efficiency within the Medical Imaging Department included implementation of a central scheduling system and LEAN methodologies - both critical components of the joint cost saving initiative.

Directors responsible for managing these projects were unable to commit the time needed given their existing work load, and the cost of hiring external consultants with the ability and expertise to focus solely on execution was prohibitive.

The projects assigned to the Sauder students included:

  • a clerical processes and productivity audit,
  • a technical productivity review,
  • an IT infrastructure evaluation,
  • a benchmarking assessment, and an
  • overall project management of new initiatives.

Tasks ranged from delivering a LEAN operations session, to outlining ways to increase efficiencies, to analyzing and comparing data to the North American benchmark. Although responsibilities differed from one MBA student to another, they all derived support by working as a team. The interns met weekly to discuss their individual projects and tap into each others’ area of expertise for new ideas and solutions to roadblocks.

Through their project work, the student group identified cost savings totaling $3.8 million, bringing the organizations closer to the Consolidation’s multi-year cost-reduction goal. Opportunities for significant revenue generation were also identified through the optimization of highly trained medical practitioners and maximizing the daily capacity to service ultrasound patients. In addition, two business cases to expand MRI operations were prepared and successfully funded.

One student, Scott McCarten, was even offered a permanent position for his exceptional contributions and interest in the health care industry. He joins 20 former Sauder MBAs who hold Senior Director or Management roles in the organization.

“Because of their work, they have helped save the organization over $10 million per year, and enhanced the access to and quality of patient care” commented Mike Nader. Undoubtedly, the quality interns provided by the Sauder MBA program have been invaluable additions to Vancouver Coastal Health.

Company Profile

Vancouver Coastal Health is a world-class innovator in medical care, research, and education. It operates 13 hospitals, 15 community health centres, and more than 500 facilities, delivering services to more than one million BC residents in the coastal region. VCH is one of four publicly-funded health care authorities involved in the Lower Mainland Consolidation, an innovative approach to improving efficiency across the organizations.

Fraser Health, Providence Health Care, the Provincial Health Services Authority, and Vancouver Coastal Health joined forces on an initiative to achieve substantive cost savings by 2013. The savings generated would be used to maximize resources dedicated to direct patient care and support a sustainable health care system.

We are one of the top recruiters of Sauder MBA students and have been for many years. The interns bring a valuable business-minded and analytical perspective, making very substantial contributions to the organization.