Alison Noice, an experienced mental health clinician, wasn’t looking to make a career change when she entered the Graduate Certificate.
“My experience to that point had been a pretty typical trajectory for leaders in mental health services -- I was a good clinician and had strengths in organizational operations and management and ended up getting promoted but I didn’t have training in management or leadership,” she said.
The mental health services sector veteran simply wanted to become the best leader she could be. “I wanted to get better at being a leader and to be able to put names to what I was already doing in my job,” said Noice, who was deputy director of CODA Inc., a non-profit provider of addiction recovery care.
When CODA began conversations about succession planning, Alison and her executive saw that with some additional education, she would have a solid foundation to one day take the helm of the organization.
Noice landed on pursuing a graduate certificate from OHSU’s Division of Management within its School of Medicine.
When she completed the certificate over the course of two years without scaling back her work calendar, Alison realized she should keep going and earn a master’s degree. “I had been worried I was going to be overwhelmed between it and my workload at CODA but the opposite was true,” she said.
She completed her Master of Science in 2019. Several months later, following the retirement of CODA’s top staff leader, she took the reins as executive director.
“It felt very different [than my first time in graduate school] to have real world applications for what we were talking about in class. The coursework actually was really energizing because it required using more of my brain and thinking about all of the possibilities,” she said.
Prior to starting OHSU’s program, Alison said she thought the coursework would involve learning tactics important for leadership -- change management, project management and other specific functions. She assumed she was missing a targeted skill that was going to be the critical missing link in getting to the next level of leadership.
Instead, she received knowledge that’s much more valuable. “Now I feel better equipped to lead others through important work,” she said. “I learned strategies for establishing expectations, managing groups through change and looking at situations through multiple lenses."