Pathfinder is a unique, flexible, immersive, personalized leadership journey for aspiring leaders. Gain skills suited to your individualized leadership needs, work with a leadership coach, and apply what you learn within an engaged team of supportive peers, and build your leadership capabilities in this eight-week program. Pathfinder will help you chart your journey in health leadership.

The online program combines:

  • 8 live flipped classroom sessions scheduled weekly
  • Flexible learning between live sessions through activities, readings, and assessments completed where, when, and how you prefer to work
  • “Homework” activities encourage you to practice and apply your learning in real time in your workplace
  • Personal one-on-one sessions with a leadership coach
  • Small class sizes to build close connections between classmates and faculty


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Pathfinder Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of Pathfinder, you will have developed:

  • Core leadership capabilities critical to success and building trust, authenticity, empathy, and competence
  • Strengthened capacity to lead change, coach others and communicate more effectively
  • The enhanced ability to handle change and uncertainty with more confidence
  • The knowledge and skills to build and lead effective teams
  • The understanding that leadership development is a lifelong journey involving learning and practice

Upon completion of Pathfinder you will have created:

  • A network of trusted peers
  • A detailed development plan with specific actions to ensure your insights and goals will be embedded in your behaviour as a leader
  • A plan and commitment to continue your leadership development through practice and the support of others

Upon completion of Pathfinder you will receive a certificate of completion from McMaster University.

Participants who complete Pathfinder can apply it towards their CHE credential with the College of Canadian Health Leaders (CCHL). 





Who is Pathfinder for?

  • Health professionals, administrators and educators 
  • Graduate students, post-doctoral students, medical residents and young professionals exploring leadership opportunities in healthcare
  • Health entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs looking to lead change in the health sector

Program Schematic

Live classroom sessions occur weekly. These sessions are supplemented with offline readings, case studies, and other activities. Students can work through the program at their own pace, and invest as much or as little time as they wish under the guidance of their personal leadership coach. Participants should expect to spend approximately 6-8 hours a week on Pathfinder work. Supplementary material, readings, and videos will be suggested for further study.


Familiarize yourself with the program 2-3 weeks prior to the first live virtual session. 

  • Technological orientation
  • Preliminary readings and videos
  • Psychometric instruments
  • Creative assignments

Live Virtual Sessions

  • Three-hour sessions weekly for 9 weeks (one week off mid-program)
  • Focus on a key theme each week in a flipped virtual classroom
  • Discuss your leadership challenges in facilitated small-group conversations
  • Practice new skills 
  • Leave with action-based assignments to integrate learnings in daily life 

Weekly Work Between Live Sessions

  • Individual and team assignments
  • Virtual team meetings

Sample Weekly Themes

  • Week 1: Know who you are: sensing your inner and outer environments
  • Week 2: Gathering your tools: Knowing what you bring to leadership
  • Week 3: Take a bearing and plot your course: What are your needs, resources, values, and experiments
  • Week 4: Act and Reframe: Influence
  • Week 5: Act and Reframe: Navigating Change
  • Week 6: Act and Reframe: Conflict and Difficult Conversations
  • Week 7: Act and Reframe: Coaching Others 
  • Week 8: Your next adventure: Your leadership plan


  • Sustain your leadership growth with a one-on-one coaching session 2 weeks after live virtual session
  • Get plugged into our HLA alumni network and suite of other offerings including events and engagement opportunities
  • Create a leadership development plan with a clear set of leadership development goals and actions for accomplishing those goals

Pathfinder Program Team

As a Health Leadership Academy program, Pathfinder draws on expertise from both the McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences and the DeGroote School of Business. Pathfinder faculty are drawn from a variety of disciplines and industries. The industry experts and guest speakers joining Pathfinder in 2021 will be announced soon.

Greg McQueen, PhD

Sean Park

Sean Park, PhD

Amanda Calzolaio, MMI

Laura Smith

Laura Smith, PhD






Information Sessions

Want to learn more about Pathfinder? Join an information session to hear from Pathfinder administrators and faculty. Check here for upcoming sessions.

Alumni Testimonials

While one might expect weekend engagements related to work to be exhausting, despite their meaningful offerings, I can say with confidence that I left each session feeling more energized and rejuvenated than before with newfound excitement; ready to make my learnings into reality. As somebody who strives to be an inspiring leader and innovator myself, it was refreshing to find myself back in the student chair as I learned from the Pathfinder program and its leaders, and I greatly look forward to instilling the practices I learned over the past eight weeks into my daily work. — Kim, Pathologist

I came across Pathfinder as I was searching for leadership opportunities that would make me a better leader in current health leadership positions. I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up – I thought worst case scenario it would look good on my CV.  What was fascinating about the program was that it was fairly pain free – most of the exploratory work was fun to do, the sessions really felt like chatting with friends (and felt like “me” time instead of one more thing on the to do list) and the coaching as well felt comfortable and being gently guided by a senior mentor.  After each session though, I was left with insights about human behavior and leadership that I found affected everything I did during the week in between sessions.  I thus had a perfect “lab” during which to apply everything I had gained.  My greatest fear was that I would discover that I am not suited to more leadership, but on the contrary I have actually left feeling empowered to seek more leadership positions and to look upon potential difficulties as challenges. I was also motivated during the course to reach out to my peers and so have left the program with a fantastic support group that I can rely on into the future. — Natya, Respirologist

Application Process

A selection committee of HLA staff and/or faculty will choose well-rounded applicants with demonstrated leadership capabilities. The application process consists of an online application, and a personal interview.

We accept applications and review candidates during an admission window (see Important Dates and Deadlines for details). Applicants will be contacted to within 5 business days of their application submission. Interviews are scheduled and the selection committee decision communicated as soon as possible. 

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Program Fees

  • Professional Rate: $3,995 + HST
  • Student* Rate: $1,995 + HST

*Currently enrolled in a graduate program at any institution.  

Important Dates and Deadlines

  • Spring Admission Window
    • Applications accepted and interviews conducted: 15 February 2021 to 19 March 2021
  • 2021 Session Dates
    • Spring: April 2021 to June 2021
    • Fall: September 2021 to November 2021


Looking to explore your career opportunities and potential leadership pathways? Come talk to us! This may be the beginning of an exciting life long journey in leadership.

Read the Pathfinder Frequently Asked Questions.

Contact us at

Request an information package