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Transforming Lives: Learners at AU

Diane Graham: Improving health care, advocating for patients

By: Diane Graham (Master of Business Administration '18)

Transforming Lives: Learners at AU is a testimonial series written by Athabasca University (AU) students and alumni who want to share how AU has helped shape their lives.

It’s a space to thank the people who provided help and support along the journey, and to share insight on how learning at AU has transformed their lives, careers, families, and communities.

These stories are worth shouting from the rooftops! Do you have an inspiring story to share? Email us! We’d love to hear it.

My story started when I was a little girl. I remember having to go to the emergency department and being in so much pain but also feeling like the health-care staff didn’t care. I waited for hours on end watching the nurses drink their coffee and laugh. I decided I was going to become a nurse and make a difference.

In 2008, I started my venture in nursing. I graduated and yet it wasn’t enough. Sure, I helped change lives, made end of life better for patients and families, and got a lot of praise. I always advocated for those who could not. There were times I thought I would lose my job because I fought hard for those who needed me.

“I always advocated for those who could not. There were times I thought I would lose my job because I fought hard for those who needed me. ”

– Diane Graham (Master of Business Administration '18)

When I started to work in management, I thought this was where I could finally help make change to the system to enhance health care for all. Again, it wasn’t enough. I would come home exhausted fighting a system—and it often felt I was doing it alone. Talking with my spouse, I said I need more education; I needed to move up in the management chain. Working full time, have a family with two teenage boys, I decided to take the Master of Business Administration program at Athabasca University (AU). It was tough as I still had to work full time, take care of a family, and fight for those who could not fight for themselves.

I eventually ventured to the North, to Nunavut, where we lived for 3.5 years while I continued to pursue my MBA and advocate for change. I helped to create a long-term care facility, a licensed practical nursing course for the locals, taught caregivers the Gentle Persuasive Approach to dementia care so that Elders could remain in their homes longer instead of being sent to Ottawa for care, when they would only see their family twice a year.

Now, I live in the Northwest Territories and help make change, build trust with Indigenous Nations and offer gifts when I travel. I can finally start to make change. To top it off, I am currently working on getting my certified health executive accreditation so I can pursue CEO positions in health care. That is where I can really make a difference through policies and innovative system changes that provide more care to those who need it.

Thanks to AU, with their flexibility and online learning, I was able to achieve my dream and help make change for those less fortunate and build trust with those I meet. To me, helping and advocating for others and making change was worth all the tears, stress, and hard work. For me, it’s about helping others in need and not having to wait or be denied services.

We are in it together and I will continue to fight for the people the health-care system serves.

Diane Graham worked her way from serving coffee at Tim Hortons or driving a school bus to becoming a senior manager in health care. Working full time, raising a family, and continuing her education have been challenging, but rewarding as she continues to transform health care where she lives.

  • January 21, 2022
Guest Blog from:
Diane Graham (Master of Business Administration '18)