The HFA fellows are as busy as ever, but they’ve taken a little bit of time out of their schedule to reflect on their experiences so far. Today, Jake and Amanda share some of their highlights, discoveries, and hopes for what’s ahead. Stay tuned for thoughts from May and Dan later this week!
At this point, you’re 4.5 months into the fellowship. What’s been your favorite part?
Jake Vildibill: My favorite part of the fellowship thus far has been seeing how excited people are to talk to us about Healthcare Innovation. All of us are interested in Healthcare Innovation in some way, but the path to these jobs are very non-traditional. To have successful people in the field not only give us their time, but convey their excitement that young professionals are looking to enter is very energizing and refreshing.
Amanda Newman: I’ve been blown away by our conversations with some incredibly compassionate, courageous, and innovative providers and patients. It’s no secret I think certified diabetes educators are the best thing since sliced bread, but it doesn’t stop there. The people who are working to create change and improve lives in this space aren’t doing it for the glory. It’s the work of their hearts, and I’m honored to be a part of that.
What's been most surprising about your experience?
JV: The biggest surprise has been how much effort it takes to manage the process of developing an idea compared to executing that process. Communication and time-management are very important elements of any plan, and although at times redundant or time consuming, they are completely necessary. I have gotten much better at project management than I ever thought I would coming into the fellowship.
AN: It shouldn’t be a shock, but the diversity of our team continues to both inspire and challenge me. We approach ideas and problems in such different ways. We’re pushing each other to find new ways of communicating, understanding, and working. And, more importantly, these diverse ways of thinking are pushing us toward a solution we think is going to matter.
What does a typical day look like for the 2015-2016 class?
JV: The obvious short answer is that no two days really end up being the same. That being said, days generally fall in one of three categories. Conference days, which generally are structured the same, experience days, where we are meeting with/at some exciting opportunity that is only tangentially related to our project, or grind days, where we are planning all the cool things we will be doing, and spending time going through the HFA curriculum/process.
AN: Like Jake said, there’s no typical week. While there are conferences or meetings that are set up for us or by us in advance, it’s up to us to figure out the rest—which takes a lot of work! It’s always a matter of balancing the time we need to dig deep into brainstorming and ideation with the time we to stay on top of the nuts and bolts of the fellowship.
Looking toward the months ahead, what are you most excited about?
JV: Coming into the fellowship I was personally the most comfortable with verifying and validating prototypes. To this point we have been mostly working through interviews and data collection, with our work being very communication oriented. I am looking forward to getting to the portion of the product cycle that I am more comfortable in.
AN: I live for the moments when we’re on the ground talking to people who are living with diabetes. As we start to prototype, I’m really looking forward to having more of those kinds of conversations—the kind that help us understand whether or not the solution we’re creating is going to have the impact we want it to have.
When you picture yourself a year from now, or even ten years from now, how do you think your experience with HFA will have impacted your path?
JV: I joined the fellowship straight out of school and for the most part my professional options were in the engineering industry. The biggest impact that this fellowship will have on me, regardless of the next six months, is just how much exposure to healthcare innovation I have received. I have met a ton of people that are doing work in the space and have a much better understanding about how I can try to apply my talents most efficiently and find a niche for myself.
AN: This experience has helped me define and redefine my values in both expected and unexpected ways. We’ve interacted with physicians, administrators, policy makers, social workers, entrepreneurs, and more who are all trying to solve the same problem in really different ways. It has helped me enormously in figuring out the approach I want to take to solving the problems I see in my community. And that’s been really important information to have as I start thinking about graduate school.