LI Shenshen: Still striving, still achieving

How did a fresh graduate become an independent project manager responsible for a whole team? LI Shenshen talks about how she has matured in her six years with the The George Institute and devoting herself to her academic research career.

To LI Shenshen, Project Manager of Clinical Pathway for Acute Coronary Syndromes in China Phase 3(CPACS-3), 2012 was a busy time for both the institute and her project. But when looking back at her years with The George Institute for Global Health at Peking University Health Science Center, the year of the dragon was a special a period of exploration and development.

"It was August 2006 when I joined the institute. How time flies!" Shenshen then counted with her fingers the projects she was involved in. "CPACS-3 is the eighth project I am in during the six years here."

Born in Beijing, Shenshen possesses all the characteristics of a typical Beijing girl: easy going, confident, reliable and very independent. She received her Bachelor's degree in preventive medicine from the Peking University Health Science Center (PUHSC). "My parents were not quite supportive of my major and career, considering that the input may overwhelm hugely the output," she said, "but I was really interested in this field and wanted to do something for human beings."

After graduating from PUHSC, she decided to further her study at in the Department of Women and Children's Health in Uppsala University in Sweden and achieved Masters degree of International Health. She commented that the period of studying abroad was a great opportunity which widened her eyes and enriched her experience.

Two months after coming back to China, she joined The George Institute 'by chance'. Shenshen was pleased with her very first job because the mission of the institute matched her personal goal: to improve people's health. She also had a chance to do research on cardiovascular diseases, her particular interest, starting as a project coordinator. Shenshen is steady, patient and a quick learner and these traits proved to be quite helpful in project management. Under the instruction of the experienced colleagues and leaders of The George Institute, Shenshen gradually took charge of some small projects and managed them to completion.

When Shenshen was appointed Project manager of CPACS-3, it was an acknowledgement of her achievements during her years with The George as well as a more extensive platform on which she can perform. "CPACS-3 is no doubt the most impressive and significant (project) to me," she said. The focus of CPACS is to ensure patients admitted to hospitals in China for acute coronary syndromes (ACS) receive appropriate treatments. "CPACS-3 will last from 2012 to 2015. It involves 102 county-level hospitals in 15 provinces in China and over 20,000 patients at present," said Shenshen. The project will first identify where improvement is needed in health services and then focus on improving how doctors and hospitals manage and treat patients for ACS. All the participating hospitals will be able to standardize operating procedures and improve efficiency through interventions, reducing the rate of misdiagnosis by doctors in county-level hospitals and ensuring patients receive better healthcare services.

"The beginning of the project was really tough, like the difficult negotiation with the stakeholders, but we went through them, we solved the problems one by one. At the current stage, everything goes smoothly, we've collected adequate cases and had efficient communication with the hospitals, " said Shenshen. When asked to share her most memorable moment from the project she talked about the kick-off of the intervention. "We arranged the whole event efficiently and perfectly in only two days, and got 20 more hospitals added on our list," said Shenshen with a proud smile. "To me, the most important progress is that I gradually get into the role of leading the project independently and find the right way to become a team leader. I feel the changes of my work methods and attitude, and I'm getting mature."

CPACS-3 is different from the previous projects Shenshen worked on previously because there isn't a 'program leader' managing the executive and operating issues. It is a challenging task for a research fellow to carry out a complicated project like this but she can make the use of her unique perspective to inspect each step of the project and provide professional comments. "I need to think over all the parts and steps by myself and be responsible to what decision I have made. And from this I got progressed a lot." She has seized the opportunity and is pleased with the level of trust she has with the other people working on the project.

"CPACS-3 is well designed for improving the people's health, the objectives of which are also what I define as goals of my career, to devote myself to the development of healthcare and improve the physical quality and fitness of the whole population." This is a goal Shenshen shares with The George Institute for Global Health. "That's the reason why I joined The George Institute, because it provides me a platform to fulfill my dream, and also dreams of many other people. I would like to express my sincere thanks to The George Institute for the six years and the future, not only myself but people around can notice the changes on me. I'm not the fresh girl who worked mostly as a team player, but a responsible team leader with a higher perspective to grasp the holistic way and ensure the success of projects."

Shenshen isn't always so serious. In fact she is a lovely woman with a charming smile. She prefers to stay at home with a book or a movie rather than hanging around the city, but she is always on the look out for budget travel packages on the internet and shares her vacations with friends. When talking about her future plans, however, Shenshen says firmly that she still expects further personal development from herself, like pursuing a doctoral degree. "I never let the idea of continuing the study out of my mind, especially after years working at the famous and professional institute with excellent colleagues. You can be aware of the gap of executive management or academic research ability between you and others, and thus you will be eager to improve yourself, and do more for the human beings."

Shenshen is an earnest traveler on the journey of life, but she never slows down her pace as she heads towards the goals she has set for herself in 2013.