Know Your Heroes: Mohammad Salhia

Know Your Heroes showcases the many different people and roles that make up #TeamUHN. We celebrate these people, who strive to make the world a healthier place every day.

Name: Mohammad Salhia
Title: Director, Continuing Education, The Michener Institute of Education at UHN
Number of years working in health care: 13
Hometown: I was born and raised in Toronto

I decided to get into health care because I thought, once upon a time, I was going to be a physician. I was on the med school trail, and about three-quarters of the way through my undergraduate degree, I realized that route wasn’t for me. I had spent a lot of time trying to do something I wasn’t meant to do. By that time, however, I was already volunteering at UHN, including a stint in the Volunteer Resources office at Toronto Western Hospital. An opening came up for a Program Coordinator there, and the rest is history. I’ve spent my entire career at UHN. I owe a lot to this place in terms of my growth and development. I thought I would stick around my first job for a couple of years, and now here I am more than 13 years later.

My role here at UHN is to support continuing education and professional development. I’m based at The Michener Institute of Education at UHN, which is Canada’s only school in a hospital. This is an amazing opportunity for all of us at UHN to think differently about how we create and partner on health professions education. My team runs a series of continuing education courses for a wide range of professionals, and most are delivered online. We do everything from advanced life support training, diabetes education and imaging, to leadership and clinical management. We have a great many options for students, and for organizations to partner with us on. As part of the School of Continuing Education at Michener/UHN, I also get to connect with many colleagues at UHN to talk about how we can support teaching and learning across many health professions, and for administrators and educators. We discuss what “the art of the possible” is from the perspective of designing and delivering education in partnership with a post-secondary institution.

COVID-19 affected me early on. I’m a social butterfly – I love being around people, and spending time with family and friends. I love going to the movies, playing tennis and volleyball, and calling a friend randomly to aimlessly wander the streets of Toronto, discovering shops and cafés. Losing access to the people, things and activities I was used to, and maybe took for granted, unsettled me. I remember ranting to my brother about waiting in line at the grocery store. He reminded me that many people experience tighter measures, restrictions and a lack of access. This helped me to take stock and reflect on my own privileges – especially those that are unearned and that I took for granted. COVID-19 altered my perspective. I’m more thoughtful about seizing the day, about who I surround myself with and how I take care of important relationships. I started taking better care of my fitness and cutting back on unhealthy eating habits. Despite being busier than ever before, I had it good. I worked from home and wasn’t “seeing” COVID-19 the same way our heroes at the point of care were. COVID helped me be explicit about the small things I’m so grateful for.

The thing I love the most about my job is the people, the innovation, the creativity, the permission to be myself while doing what I’m passionate about – these are all things that make for a great working environment for me. Working at a place like UHN is always exciting, and there’s always something to learn. As an institution, it’s really unique. You could be a physician, a PSW, a researcher, an instructional designer, an engineer or a lawyer – there’s a role for you to play here. This is a really remarkable place with so many opportunities for those who are willing to put in the work and find them. What isn’t there to love!?

The most incredible thing I’ve seen at work is unrelenting drive. I work with people who have tremendous capacity to, simply put, get many jobs done, and get them done well. What’s most incredible is that they are usually doing it with a smile on their faces despite all the frenzy that comes with working in health care and during a pandemic, to boot!

I’m inspired by the strong women in my life. There are many that come to mind, notably my incredible mother and my nieces, who range in age from seven months to 23 years. On my mother – she’s a no-bones kind of person, and put so much of her own professional self-fulfillment aside so that she could be present for her kids. She represents many sacrifices that she made for her family with unconditional love. Shout-out to all the amazing moms in my life! On my nieces – I’m inspired by these young girls and women with the capacity to see the world with open hearts and open minds, seemingly without restrictions. I’m inspired by how the three oldest in university and grad school stand their ground on what they believe in, and that they go after what they want and on their own terms fearlessly. I’m quite certain I was not anywhere near as productive or ambitious as they are when I was their age. It’s pretty remarkable to watch them grow into talented, kind and fiercely ambitious people. It gives me great hope for the future.

One of my personal heroes is Roger Federer because I adore tennis, play it tons and know how highly technical and precise it is. Anyone who can master the sport like Roger Federer is just remarkable. I don’t care that he’s stuck in a three-way tie for most Grand Slam titles in the Open Era, I’m team Fed all the way!

I sometimes worry about the state of the world. The pandemic aside, there is a lot of social injustice and inequity in the world, climate change and geopolitical unrest. I just think of the world our children will inherit in a few decades. What will that be and look like?

I’ve found joy recently from plants! I really love planting! Now, whether I can keep things alive is another story altogether, but I’m still learning, and I love it!

My favourite book (or movie) is Harry Potter. What’s not to love!? I have never binge-read anything so fast. I simply devoured every last word because of how well the author wrote it. I could see Hogwarts so clearly! It’s probably one of the only book-to-movie adaptations I can think of where the sets and the characters were pretty close to how I imagined them while reading!

My ideal day off would start with a sleep in, and then feature lots of tennis-playing, a walk, sitting outside and soaking up some sun. I love to cook, and so a chance to make a super delicious meal I can enjoy over a movie or Netflix is usually what’s in store! When I was younger, my supervisor asked me a similar question and my response was, “A bag of Doritos and video games.” I’ve evolved (maybe just a bit) since then.

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