Vic Management Interns' blog

Blog posts by Victorian Management Interns of the Australasian College of Health Service Management. Views are those of the individual authors and not those of ACHSM or management interns’ host organisations or employers.

Sharnee Trehan
Sharnee Trehan
Sharnee Trehan's Blog

My learning Journey of Project Management (PM) (By Sally Guo)

By Sally Guo

1st Year Management Intern

Before entering the Intern program I thought only information technology departments knew the processes and tools needed to successfully plan and execute a project. Furthermore, I thought most Project Managers would have learned the skills needed to successfully manage a project through formal education. Then I started this internship and was given a PM short lesson before I started my placement. At the time I thought, PM sounds very interesting, I like using excel to make Gantt charts, I like doing PowerPoint and advancing my presentation skills. When I was given a project to run, I was excited to do these cool things, at the same time very nervous knowing that what I learnt was only superficial and there would be a steep learning curve ahead of me.

At the beginning, I was completely lost. I spent a lot of time doing things that I thought might be helpful and searching on the internet for answers. As a result of this aimless labor, a large amount of my output turned out to be unnecessary. Months later, as I started knowing more people who had project management experiences I started asking them what methods worked and what didn’t work when they were doing similar jobs. I then started forming a plan for the project based on these advice. Much of the work I produced after seeking expert advice turned out to be critical to the project.

An important issue for me was that I was beginning to understand that, even working in a hospital environment clinically for 13 years, I did not know how management processes worked in the healthcare environment. My project requires organizational wide cooperation which requires expertise from almost all disciplines in health care. I was instructed by the project sponsor to write a Briefing Paper to the Executive Committee to seek endorsement to establish an Expert Advisory Group (EAG). My project is multidisciplinary work but not as  I knew it. In the clinical settings, all I need to do is to call/page the obstetrician, pediatrician and social workers and we will discuss the issue together and make a plan. But in health management roles, there is a process and sometimes ideas will need to be endorsed before it can happen.

I always found that learning from the text books is far easier than applying the knowledge in practice. For example, I spent hours filling in a 20 page Project management plan template. I thought it was important, because “Dr. Google” said so. My project plan ended up attracting no interest for months. As a result of that, I cannot align my project team to the same objectives and the project was not moving forward at all. It resulted more than a month loss of productivity.  Then I asked my supervisor why this is the case? His answer was simple: “It’s too long, they do not have time to read it”. I was also given an easy solution – a Project Brief a 5 page template, which then became an important piece of the work that made alignment possible.

I think overall, I have learnt:

  1. To seek advice from experienced project managers when you don’t know where to start or before starting something that you are uncertain if the work is necessary
  2. There is a process for Project Management, and equally important to know that there is a process in health service management when running a project in the hospital
  3. When you run into a difficult situation, ask for help and ask early.

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