Building business, impact on an MHS foundation
Lisa Little (Master of Health Studies ’06) is making a meaningful contribution to health care, generally, and the nursing profession, specifically, by using all she learned in her MHS to serve a diverse group of clients across the country
Studying online through AU was the right choice when Lisa Little (Master of Health Studies ’06) was working full-time and completing her degree. As a professional with her own business, it’s still right.
Little worked with the Canadian Nurses Association for a decade before launching her own company, Lisa Little Consulting, in 2010. And if her roster of high-level, national clients across the spectrum of health providers doesn’t keep her busy enough, since 2017 she has also served as one of two North American representatives on the board of the International Council of Nurses (ICN), and she also teaches a course on leadership and management to fourth-year nursing students at Queen’s University.
Making a meaningful difference
“I like the variety of what I do, and often have four or five projects on the go at once,” she says of days that are the very definition of variety. At any point, she could be working on primary research, surveys, literature reviews and searches, synthesis and data analysis, and developing papers that help organizations turn information into strategic directions or policy. Or she could be designing and facilitating meetings or workshops, running focus groups or being part of a think tank. Or she could be managing projects.
“Being a consultant allows me to select what I want to do,” she says with a laugh. “The role I play now let’s me be in the background. I know I’m still contributing in a very meaningful way, and making an impact, but I don’t need to be the front person.”
Her MHS is a solid foundation. “What I learned and how I learned — online — fits with what I do now,” Little explains. “No matter where you choose to work, whether it’s providing direct care, teaching, doing research or managing, having the master’s allows you to take your skills to a new level.
“It helps with evidence-informed decision-making, offers insights into using research and applying it in practice, and working collaboratively in teams. It enables you to bring appreciative inquiry into what you do every day, and to take a systems-level approach to look beyond the individual.”
“Being a consultant allows me to select what I want to do. The role I play now let’s me be in the background. I know I’m still contributing in a very meaningful way, and making an impact, but I don’t need to be the front person.”– Lisa Little
Impacting millions of nurses worldwide
That perspective is widened through Little’s involvement with the ICN, which enables her to see and experience health care in different countries. Through it, she influences international policies of organizations including the World Health Organization and United Nations, which can have an impact on 22 million nurses and nursing practice worldwide. “Nursing education, workforce issues, primary health care challenges and mental health are a struggle everywhere,” she notes. “Sharing and learning from each other in a global context serves nursing and health systems worldwide.”
Those “connect the dots” insights are invaluable to governments, professional associations, unions and others who have come to see her as a hub of knowledge and networking.
“I meet with and work with amazing people across the country,” Little says of developing a business that is both professionally and personally interesting and satisfying. “I’ve made a conscious, personal and professional choice to work as a consultant, and to have the freedom to work on projects beyond nursing.
“Being an entrepreneur allows me to have a good work/life balance while still doing meaningful work.”
And in the future? Little will continue to build on her MHS foundation, exploring potential collaborations with business consultants in her area, becoming more knowledgeable about Indigenous culture to better support clients trying to meet Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, and perhaps expanding to offer services in French.