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What we heard! The Vernissage Health Leaders Dialogue Series - 5 Year Impact Study and Reunion

Vernissage Health Reunion, March 30, 2022

I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again. Simple, honest, human conversation - Meg Wheatley.

The numbers have been crunched, your voices heard and the results from the 5 Year Impact Study are ready to share!

This impact study was an outcome evaluation conducted five years after the initial implementation of the Vernissage Health Leadership Dialogue Series in 2017. The series is a unique leadership development program for graduate students enrolled in IHPME, DLSPH and Rotman School of Management (MBA Health) programs in advanced stages of study. The experience is aimed to support students with interest in leadership upon (re) entry to the health system after their graduate studies are completed.

Research ethics board approval for the evaluation was received from the University of Toronto and data collected in 2021. Findings from the study were recently shared at the March 30 Vernissage Health Alumni Reunion by Arlinda Ruco, PhD Candidate and Study Co Investigator. Presentation details are available at

Data was collected from program alumni through the administration of an online, confidential and anonymous survey. The survey was followed by focus groups for more detailed discussion.

Survey Findings

Here are a few key results from the survey:

  • 89% of respondents felt that VH had influenced their personal and professional practice of leadership to some or a great extent;

  • Over half (54%) felt that VH had an impact on their career advancement to some or a great extent;

  • 69% felt that VH helped them to some or a great extent build mentoring relationships.

  • In terms of how the VH dialogue series stacks up with other leadership development and mentorship programs, 85.2% of participants rated VH somewhat or much better than other leadership development programs and 76.9% rated VH somewhat or much better than other mentorship programs.

  • 82.8% stated that the non credit course format across all IHPME programs provided a psychologically safe environment for authentic dialogue and learning about health leadership and recommended the present format be retained.

This is all very positive and encouraging feedback!

What makes Vernissage Health unique?

What makes the dialogue series experience so unique and impactful for emerging and early career leaders? Comments in the survey shed light on this question! Here is a sample of what alumni wrote in the survey:

  • "The small setting makes it (VH) unique as well as hosting a mixture of emerging and established leaders in a listening circle".

  • "Other leadership programs are didactic. Sharing stories and personal experiences make it more authentic and showcases those who achieve great things are just like me and I can one day get there!"

  • "The connections that you are able to make with other participants is due to the environment created - one that feels safe, respectful and non-judgemental. This is very different from other leadership experiences."

Recommendations for Future

This input will help guide the Project Team in its efforts to improve and deepen the dialogue experience. Some areas of future focus identified during the Reunion were:

  • retain and fine-tune the virtual "circle" environment to allow for participation from health leaders across a wider geographic area;

  • find effective and efficient ways of integrating in person learning within the series post pandemic;

  • continue to enhance diversity of the participants in the series to deepen learning, provide a broader range of leadership role models and enhance mentorship;

  • continue to offer Vernissage Health as a continuing education offering to IHPME alumni one to five years post graduation;

  • strengthen the website platform to better connect and support the Vernissage Health community;

Next Steps

The impact study and findings are being written up by the Research Team and will be submitted for journal publication. The Project Team will be expanded to include more Alumni and will work collaboratively to make these enhancements during the remainder of 2022.

Gratitude and Appreciation to our VH Community

Much gratitude for the generous contributions and talent of the entire VH research team including Arlinda Ruco (PhD Candidate HSR and CoPI), Maaike Devries (PhD. HSR) and Husayn Marani (PhD Candidate (HSR) - all VH alumni! Appreciation also to the Project team and over 150 VH alumni who have participated in the series, responded to the impact survey, attended focus groups, or facilitated and contributed input at the March Reunion!

The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate (and generous) action of its members. - Coretta Scott King

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