It’s only the second week of our yearlong innovation fellowship, but the feeling of having our work cut out for us is very much salient. Last week, we received a crash course on stroke care and learned about lean startup methodologies that we will utilize as we create a scalable and novel health solution during our fellowship. Earlier in the week, we shadowed physicians and spoke with various healthcare providers working in emergency medicine and patient rehabilitation, giving us a more comprehensive understanding of stroke – this year’s health focus.
But what exactly does “a day in the life” look like for a Health for America (HFA) fellow? Do we have a 9-5 schedule? What is our workflow like as a team? What is the overall mission we are striving towards? To help answer these queries, let’s take a gander at my full-day schedule from Week 2 of our exploration phase.
6:00 AM – I wake up an hour earlier than usual because our day officially starts at 8AM at a physical rehabilitation center. I French-press my morning coffee, double-check the address of our site visit, and get ready to leave the apartment.
7:45 AM – 8:00 AM – I inform my fellow HFAers that I am on my way. I arrive at our site where we are scheduled to observe a weekly team meeting that consists of physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists. This meeting will give us a good preview of what to expect of our follow-up visit, where we will have the opportunity to observe the healthcare providers in action.
9:00 AM – 9:30 AM – The meeting ends and we ask the rehab team coordinator questions about what was discussed. We thank him and confirm our next meeting. Fellow HFAer, Stephanie, suggests that we apply what we learned into our upcoming patient simulation experience. After sharing more observations, we touch base, via FaceTime, with HFA director Mandy Dorn about action items and conference updates.
9:30 AM – 12:00 PM – We relocate to the 1776 office in downtown DC. After placing our stuff on our usual table, we walk over to the office kitchen, grab coffee, and make Nutella sandwiches at the complimentary sandwich bar. We discuss the plan for the day and remind each other to update the data tracker with our notes from the meeting this morning. I volunteer to book our flights to San Francisco for the Lean Startup Conference in November. Mike offers to take over the reins on Airbnb reservations. We review the agenda for the stroke collaborative meeting where multiple stakeholders will discuss stroke care in the DC region. Katia suggests that we create a tracker specifically for our contacts. We work independently on our personal action items.
12:00 PM – 12:30 PM – Mindful of our stomachs, we step out of the office and purchase lunch at a nearby cafe. On the way back to the office, we laugh about how we should make a list of random things that we say to each other. We return to our tables and enjoy our lunch before heading over to our next meeting.
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM – Dr. Hsia, one of our physician mentors, greets us and we thank her for inviting us to the collaborative. We listen to the speakers who represented various hospitals and organizations in the D.C./Baltimore region. The fellows and I jot down emerging themes from the meeting. We offer ourselves as a potential resource to help improve stroke initiatives in the community. After the meeting, we personally introduce ourselves to the American Heart Association executive director.
2:30 PM – 3:00 PM – We discuss how the meeting went and what we learned. We remind each other to be at our site visit by 9AM tomorrow, breathing sighs of relief for not starting the day at 7AM like in days past. After the site visit tomorrow morning, we are going to relocate to 1776 and brainstorm together for our landscape analysis.
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM– After parting ways with the team, I head home to finish my work independently. Sensing the lack of caffeine in my system, I boil water and make myself more coffee. I upload my notes from the afternoon meeting onto Google Drive and share it with the team. While looking over tomorrow’s schedule, I jot down action items on my to-do list. I realize that I haven’t calendared the deadlines for our fellowship deliverables, which include a landscape analysis, ideation proposal, and final portfolio. After calendaring those due dates, I review the format and content of last year’s landscape analysis for diabetes to prep for tomorrow’s planning session.
As you can imagine, there is no typical day for a Health for America fellow. The day-to-day schedule during this exploration phase of our fellowship will look different from those of the ideation and implementation phases later in the year. But there is one thing that we can expect to see constantly throughout our journey: innovation. To quote Dr. Mark Smith, Chief Innovation Officer of MedStar Health, in a recent Forbes article about HFA: “Question the perception of what’s possible. Who says four young people can’t create the next big thing in stroke care?”