Pathfinder FAQ

Frequently asked questions about Pathfinder Program.

What is the timeline for applications and acceptance?

Applications are accepted, and interviews scheduled, during an admission window. Interviews are conducted by Health Leadership Academy staff and faculty through a video conference chat. The decision of the selection committee will be issued directly to the applicant as soon as possible following the interview.

Once accepted into the program, you will make your program payment.**

As the start date of the program approaches, candidates will receive a detailed welcome package, including an agenda,  preparatory materials for review and completion including pre-program assessments. 

** rates are based on current status as a student or professional 

Is financial assistance available for this program?

The Health Leadership Academy has a limited number of Exceptional Leadership Scholarship Awards available for ELP participants. Scholarships are distributed based on academic merit and an application process. Scholarship applications are considered late in the admission window and as such acceptances may be issued, and deposits due, before a decision about scholarships will have been reached. 

McMaster University students may qualify for financial support through university scholarships or bursaries or aid and awards.

All applicants are encouraged to contact our Program Administrator, Laura Smith at to discuss their individual situation.

What are some tips to structure my application for successful acceptance?

  • Speak to, and channel, your leadership experience 
  • Speak authentically 
  • Demonstrate why this program will serve you and what unique contribution you will bring to the program.  

What is Coaching? How are coaches assigned, and what kind of coaches are used in the program?  

Coaching helps you identify and focus on areas you want to develop and improve. It helps you set and achieve those goals. Coaching is a useful leadership skill, and working with a coach will help you build your awareness and become a better leader. 

Our  leadership coaches are experienced with years of professional training. We use your application, interview, and pre-program assessments to assign you to a coach that will support you along your Pathfinder Program journey and after you have finished the program.

What is the difference between the Shift, Pathfinder, and Emerging Leaders Programs?

All HLA programs have a health leadership focus.

Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) is designed to be an intensive, 1-week virtual leadership “boot camp.” ELP is “teams-centric,” meaning the majority of the exercises you do are done in groups to strengthen your ability to lead teams and focus on building relationships with team members while developing your skills. The intensity of the program is designed to help you understand your unique leadership style. 

Pathfinder Program is much more individualistic and focuses more on personal and professional growth. It is a virtual leadership program stretched over 8 weeks. You can apply what you learn over the course of 8 weeks to your work. It is designed to help you master your leadership skills and put what you are learning into practice within a small group.

Shift Program introduces design thinking as a method through which health leaders can innovate, solve existing problems, and imagine new health futures. It is a virtual leadership program that takes place over 12 weeks with 6 live sessions. Like ELP, Shift has a teams focus, but like Pathfinder, it is stretched over a longer time frame allowing for more reflection as you work to solve a current health challenge. 

What is a flipped classroom? What does it look like in a virtual setting?

“Flipped” classroom means that you actively participate in the weekly sessions, can ask questions and remain engaged the entire time compared to the regular “lecture” style classroom, where you listen to someone speak for the entire 3-hour session.

What can I expect from the weekly sessions?

The facilitated weekly sessions run for about 3 hours. These sessions are highly interactive and do not follow a typical “lecture” style. Each week is centered around a specific leadership topic/theme and weekly exercises and assessments will reflect that theme and give you a chance to practice and share what you are learning. 


  • Spring 2021 live sessions will run mid-day on Wednesdays.
  • Fall 2021 live sessions will run in late-afternoon on Wednesdays.