Each week takes the 2016-17 fellows further into their ideation process and refining their top two solutions intended to improve stroke care. It’s a busy, challenging time, but King and Stephanie still found a moment to look back on their experience so far, turn their thoughts toward the future, and offer some sage advice to applicants for the 2017-18 fellowship. (In case you missed it, you can also read Mike and Katia’s reflections here).
At this point, you're almost halfway through the fellowship. What's been your most exciting experience so far?
King John Pascual (KP): Ideation has been the most exciting part of the fellowship for me. The process of brainstorming solutions based on the gaps in stroke care that we identified has been fulfilling because I actually feel like a design thinker.
Stephanie Guang (SG): I’ve been most excited by the opportunity to shape and create many parts of the fellowship experience for ourselves. When I began HFA, I was confused about what an open-ended innovation challenge would look like, but that’s the most wonderful part of HFA – being given ridiculously amazing resources and mentorship in stroke care, design thinking, and lean startup, as well as the creative space and time to innovate.
What have you learned about health innovation that's been particularly surprising or interesting?
KP: Having a solid business model is really crucial for an idea to take off and to be viable in the market. In health care, and I suppose in most industries, you can have a great idea, but if it isn't strategically planned and rolled out, it will just be that: a great idea.
SG: Prior to the fellowship, I had always thought of health innovation along the lines of new medical devices and wearables or groundbreaking research into gene editing. But health care also needs innovations that are translational and human-centered. That side of innovation can take the form of a new patient education tool or making existing products more human-centered. Ultimately I’ve learned that innovation can take many forms and adventuring into those spaces has been really interesting for me.
Picturing yourself a year or even 10 years from now, how do you imagine your experience as an HFA fellow will continue to impact your career?
KP: Working with an interdisciplinary team for an extended period of time has given me invaluable skills and experience that will be transferable to any stage of my career moving forward. The fellowship has honed my emotional intelligence, project management skills, and knowledge of the healthcare landscape. Wherever I end up professionally, be it in medicine, journalism, or education, I know I can leverage my fellowship experience in meaningful and innovative ways.
SG: I was a few signatures away from starting medical school when I got the news from HFA, and I think that has changed my career course. The medical education system sometimes feels to me like a pipeline. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get on the conveyor belt as a first year and turn into a cookie-cutter student who can learn material, memorize, regurgitate, rinse, and repeat. The opportunity to learn how to be an innovator and to take that mindset into medical school with me is extremely powerful and definitely game-changing.
Thinking back to your experience of the fellowship application process, is there any advice you'd offer applicants for the 2017-18 fellowship?
KP: Really reflect on yourself, your passions, your strengths/weaknesses, and your leadership style. Knowing what you can contribute to the team and being able to communicate that will set you up for success. Though it’s not required, I’d also recommend familiarizing yourself with some of the human-centered design and lean startup concepts that are at the heart of the fellowship. They’re key in developing viable and sustainable ideas.
SG: Applying to HFA is a creative risk worth taking. If it sounds confusing and open-ended, that’s the best part about it. So when you’re applying, put yourself in a fellow’s shoes. Imagine what you would contribute, what you would want to achieve, what you would gain, and how it might make you dream about the rest of your career. Thinking about these things as an applicant made me dangerously excited, and I think that’s how I knew HFA was right for me.
If you missed Katia and Mike’s interview, be sure to check it out. And don’t forget to apply by noon on Friday, February 24! More information, this year’s webinar, and the complete application can be found here.