Eleven months, it seems, flew by with the speed of a racing cheetah. Just as in photographs that capture a millisecond of stillness in an object traveling at high velocity, reflecting back on the fellowship feels rather similar. We’ve experienced and achieved so much, yet paradoxically we feel as though our “stroke crash course” happened just last week. In a millisecond snapshot, we almost feel no different than the first day of the program, yet a deeper dimension reveals just how much change and growth has taken place in each of us.
Stay tuned in the weeks ahead as we each post individually, reflecting on the fellowship experience and how it’s shaped our personal and professional paths. But for now, for our last blog post as group, we’ll each share how we’ve changed and grown throughout the program.
“Through developing health solutions from conception to completion in an engaging team environment, I am confident HFA offers me the potential for growth and the opportunity to shape health through innovation.” That’s what I wrote in my HFA application back in March of 2016. Looking back, my vague language gives away the fact that I had no idea what to expect when I started this fellowship and in terms of the ways in which I would grow. In addition to maturing a lot professionally over the last year, the fellowship has taught me that innovation, especially in the healthcare space, isn’t a serendipitous spark or a stroke of genius, but rather a concerted and concentrated effort. The effort that goes into innovation starts from the purposeful curation of empathy for problem-finding, a dynamic ideation process to find impactful and sustainable solutions; the crucial piece of healthcare provider buy-in; and the perseverance to fully realize and implement an idea. As I begin my medical training, I have experienced and lived firsthand in the effort of innovation and that has undoubtedly prepared me to take on the health innovation opportunities that lie ahead.”
“Eleven months ago, I began my journey as a Health for America at MedStar Health fellow. At the time, my method of creating ‘innovations’ was often to find interesting tools and phenomena in the field of data science and/or physics and use them to improve on existing solutions, without ever learning the intricacies of the problem I was trying to solve. Headstrong, I set out to change the world of stroke without knowing much about the problem I was tackling. Three months of the HFA exploration phase exposed me to many of the details of stroke physiology, the problems faced by stroke patients and their families, and the way the healthcare system cares for stroke patients. Although time consuming, this in-depth exploration ultimately helped our team to devise promising solutions that solve real-world problems, rather than find problems that were solved by solutions we developed. The HFA experience provided outstanding evidence that taking the time to gather a holistic perspective as well as understand the details of a problem is the most critical step in devising a successful solution.”
“It was Ben Franklin who once said ‘Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.’ This quote resonates with me as I reflect on how much I have changed since the fellowship began in September 2016. For instance, I've learned to see value in ideas which people might disregard and I've learned to value people whose ideas, at the outset, I would disregard. I've also outgrown my tendency to doubt myself and what I'm capable of doing. Professionally, I developed a newfound interest in patient experience as a field that I can see myself pursuing long-term and combining with my other passions in mental health and education. Of course, there is still room for personal improvement and professional exploration, and I very much look forward to the new beginnings that await me after this fellowship.”
“I walk away from the fellowship with the great gift of experience. This year has been an incredibly unique opportunity to learn through doing: learning how to be an entrepreneur, human-centered designer, and teammate. Transforming ideas into tangible products and services has taught us many practical skills in a way that’s impossible to gain other than through hands-on experience. That’s the greatest change I see in myself: a new perspective and arsenal of techniques which I’ll be able to apply widely after I transition to my next steps in life and career. I’m more excited than ever before to encounter obstacles, especially in our healthcare ecosystems, as I now have the blueprint and resources for being able to ideate, develop, and carry out effective solutions. Just as you ‘learn to learn’ in college, I’ve learned to ‘observe, ideate, and implement’ through HFA, skills I will carry on throughout my life and medical career.”
With that, we’ll sign off with a final expression of thanks to the network of HFA leaders and alumni, MedStar Health and outside mentors and collaborators, as well as our own family and friends who have supported our learning, our growth, and our success this year.