I Experienced a Steep Learning Curve

Octavia Choi - Research Contracts Coordinator, Fraser Health Authority


Hello, my name is Octavia. I am currently working as a Research Contracts Coordinator at Fraser Health Authority.  I have previously worked as a Clinical Research Associate in oncology for 5 years before joining the health authority. This is my first time taking on a role in research contracts and it has been an interesting journey. I never really knew much about research contracts until I came across the job posting on Fraser Health websites. After 5 years as a Research Associate, I was eager to take on my next adventure! 

Since I have joined the health authorities in February, I experienced a steep learning curve. I felt anxious that I am not good enough and self-doubts and insecurities started to creep up on me. I felt paralyzed as if I am trying use the muscles that I have not used in a very long time- adjusting to a new work environment and a new role felt like a muscle!

The task of reviewing contracts and negotiating was no easy feat! When I first started to review contracts, it felt foreign as if I am reading a completely different language.  However, I had a similar experience when I first joined the oncology team so I knew I will get  used to the jargons. At the beginning, it took me almost a whole day to understand a single contract as I struggled to understand words like "intellectual property" and "indemnifications". After reading few more contracts, I started to gain speed. I always loved reading which helped but it was a completely different kind of reading experience- I have never read a legal document as closely as I have now!

After a few months in the position, my manager recommended that I take a course in contracts with Mohawk College. I registered for Contracts and Reporting Course and the course started in September. I am learning about basics of contracts and different types of agreement. I wish I had taken the course when I first started. However, I also feel that I may not have understood the course to the extent I have now if I have not had the experience that I had for the past 6 months. I guess it is always a perfect time to learn!

Although reviewing contracts are getting easier and easier, I feel that negotiating contracts is another beast. I hope that this course will help me with how to negotiate contracts. It is also encouraging to know that there are other health administration professionals out there who are taking the same course and perhaps going through the same experience as me. I hope that I get to know more about the health administration community and grow as a professional through the experience.

I still have few months of the course left and I am excited to apply the knowledge I have gained in the course to my work experience. I am already starting to feel that practical knowledge is helping me to review different types of contracts. I hope more people will join us in this journey and I would love to hear about your experience!