[Editorial Note: Jake's blog is the first in a series from our recently graduated 2015-2016 fellows. Check back throughout the month of August for posts by May, Dan, and Amanda as the team reflects on their year together.]
Fourteen months ago, I earned my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My job search prior to graduation involved a lot of me typing “biomedical engineer” into different search engines and later just “engineer.” I didn’t know much about healthcare, or really much about anything professional for that matter, but I knew what I was: a biomedical engineer.
Then I was lucky enough to be offered a spot as one of the Health for America fellows.
I met hundreds of people, traveled to new cities across the country, asked thousands of questions, filled up notebooks, solved real problems, and, most importantly, forgot “what” I was.
Today I can explain what diabetes is, what the different types are, and even what new types people are starting to discover. Today I can walk you through patient experiences, discuss the pros and cons of HCAHPS scores, and explain how the Affordable Care Act is moving our society toward value-based care. Today I can speak about technical implementations of telehealth and highlight best practices, I can cite Clayton Christensen’s vision for the future of healthcare, and I can get up on my soapbox and proclaim that the patient data model needs to be changed and people have a right to their own medical data.
Today I can tell you that a biomedical engineer with a management consulting background is totally different than me. I can tell you that healthcare needs more dancers, and that understanding how your own body moves and using it to tell your story may be the secret-sauce healthcare has been looking for. I can tell you that some people are just born with a designer’s eye, and that not only does healthcare need more designers, but honestly every team does.
I know so much more than I did 14 months ago.
But introspectively, I am far less certain of what I am. This fellowship taught me that I am a creator, and I speak in ideas, themes, and concepts. This fellowship taught me that my engineering brain can be applied to a diverse array of problems for faster, more efficient solutions. The fellowship confirmed my belief that there are problems I can help solve in healthcare, and if I can find these solutions I can have some real impact in this world.
I have a feeling that it will take years for me to even understand all the different professional value that I got over the course of the past year, but I know a few things already at the end. It was fun, like really fun. And I’m not just a biomedical engineer anymore, although I am not yet sure what I am. But I do feel that I have a direction, and I feel comfortable moving in that direction professionally, developing human-centered products, applying lean business models, and transforming healthcare. The last year was fun, really fun, but I can’t wait to see what the future holds.