Alumni Interview: Arthur Yee – Communications Specialist – Providence Healthcare

Working in healthcare can be very complex. How does one keep calm under pressure and scrutiny, while continuing to execute great work? Ever since Arthur Yee was an undergrad Communication student, he knew he wanted to be involved in healthcare following co-op placements at Vancouver Coastal Health and AIDS Vancouver. Now, as one of two Corporate Communication Specialists at Providence Health, Arthur’s responsibilities range from looking after communication planning for major initiatives within Providence Health Care and providing strategic communication counsel. I got the chance to speak with Arthur about how SFU co-op and volunteering at IABC as a student led to his current position, his most memorable moments at Providence thus far, and to hear his story going from UBC Sciences to SFU Communication. If you have ever considered a career in the public sector and/or healthcare, be sure to read about Arthur’s experiences!
Arthur Yee

CMNSU: What is your official job title?
Arthur: I am a Communications specialist with Providence Healthcare.

CMNSU: What are your responsibilities?
Arthur: One of my main roles is communication planning, primarily for major initiatives happening within our organization. Between myself and the team I work in, we help ensure Providence’s story is told effectively to our staff, patients and the community. Some tactics we look after in our Communications & Public Affairs team include planning and implementing websites, developing communication plans, speech writing, media relations, and issues management.

CMNSU: How would you describe a regular day?
Arthur: The fun thing about working in health care is that each day tends to be different! I find myself learning something new every day. Though if I had to pick, I’d say a lot of my day is spent writing… plans, content, etc.

CMNSU: What is the most challenging part of your position?
Arthur: Healthcare in Canada is a very complex, but ultimately very rewarding field to work in. Because it is public sector, there are many different stakeholders and groups involved in decision-making, and it can sometimes be challenging to get everyone on the same page. Healthcare, and one’s own health and well being, is such a personal affair because it affects all of us. While I don’t find myself on the hospital floor every day, some of the stories you get to work with can be so intense – literally life and death.

CMNSU: What is your favourite part of your position?
Arthur: I like that I am able to contribute to a person’s health and recovery, as part of my work. Although my position may be complex at times, it is also very rewarding.

CMNSU: How did you find this position?
Arthur: I found this position indirectly through co-op. My first position in healthcare communication was with the Vancouver Coastal Health, which I did thanks to my participation with SFU’s Communications Co-op. Joining IABC in my university career also helped me network, and build my connections.

CMNSU: What was your first impression of the job?
Arthur: I noticed, and realized, how much the team cares about what that they are working on. People are attracted to working for healthcare because they want to make a difference.

CMNSU: What has been the highlight of your position so far?
Arthur: I had the opportunity to work on a project that saw the transition of people with mental health issues at Riverview hospital in Coquitlam to community based facilities. Mental health has a lot of stigma attached to it in our current society, which made the project challenging and complex. There were a lot of different stakeholders involved in the project, and I think I learned the most from that project to date.

CMNSU: How has your education at SFU contributed to your current position?
Arthur: SFU taught me critical thinking skills. So far in my career, the skills I’ve found most useful to me have been the soft skills like being able to make good judgement, critical thinking and social skills. My education, Co-op, and volunteer experiences have really helped me be well rounded and gain experience, critical to my future work.

CMNSU: What is something you have learned about yourself in your current position?
Arthur: That it is important to work for a cause, or organization, that you believe in. And not to take things too personally – everyone has a story and something going on in their life.

CMNSU: How were you like as a student?
Arthur: At SFU, I was a focused student since it was the second phase of my university career. I already knew what I wanted to do and focused on that. I spent a lot of my time volunteering at IABC, where I received the 2008 Student Communicator of the Year award. I also spent a large portion of my student career involved with SFU Co-op. In fact, my first Co-op was with SFU Co-op! Co-op was by far one of the best time investments I’ve ever made.

CMNSU: What were some of your favourite classes?
Arthur: I loved design class because it allowed me to use my brain in a different way, which was refreshing. I enjoyed my class with Professor Janet Marontate on Collective Memory, and also my class with Professor Dal Jin on Comparative Asian studies.

CMNSU: What was your most memorable moment at SFU?
Arthur: It was during my fourth year, I was working on my papers late at night up in the higher floors at the AQ. I looked outside the window, and could see the fog rolling in over the mountains. I felt at that moment that things were finally falling into place, and I was where I needed to be.

CMNSU: If you could have done something differently in your university career, what would it have been?
Arthur: Honestly, I am happy with the way things worked out and I would not really change anything. I am glad I started out my undergrad degree at UBC Sciences because it taught me how to see the world in a different way. I realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing, and I’m glad that it has led me to SFU Communications, Co-op, IABC, and now my current position.

CMNSU: What is a piece of advice that you would like to give students?
Arthur: Get out and meet people! Expand your network, and gain experience. Talk with people who are working in the field that you are interested in. Nowadays, it is a given that people attend university, so you need to be able to find ways to make yourself stand out. And nobody will care whether you were able to finish school in 4 years or not – take the extra time and apply for Co-op. I feel it is almost a pre-requisite for being best equipped to find employment after school.

-Carmen Chen
Alumni Relations

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