In January, I reflected on my growth in one of the four pillars of Health for America at MedStar Health (HFA) – Leadership. Since then, Sharon and I have continued to learn from leaders in health care, policy and more. We’ve also had the opportunity to learn from leaders on our respective internal startup teams and, in doing so, make our mark on initiatives within MedStar Health. As we near our HFA graduation next month, I appreciate the ways my mentors on the IM and HFA leadership teams have helped me grow.
When my fellowship began, I proactively set out to learn as much as I could from each mentor. Having a diverse group of mentors has helped me to learn about areas outside of my background and apply principles from past experiences in new domains of health care. In just 11 months, I have grown my knowledge of IM modalities, my ability to develop culinary medicine programs, and my understanding of business case design.
Knowledge of IM Modalities
Starting HFA, I had recently finished training as a yoga instructor and was interested in the mind and body mechanisms of yoga and meditation. I have since discovered a vast landscape of IM, and my interest has grown to other IM modalities such as biofeedback, massage therapy, ayurveda, and acupuncture.
Dr. Emily Ratner has been an exceptional mentor, exposing me to different IM modalities. During my simulated acupuncture appointments early in the fellowship, Dr. Ratner explained her acupuncture training, what she did, and how it related to Traditional Chinese Medicine—helping me make my own connections between training, practice, and theory.
Developing Culinary Medicine Programs
Prior to meeting Dr. Theresa Stone, I was unaware teaching kitchens were being utilized in hospital systems. I was already intrigued by nutrition, thanks to my own research and experimentation with different nutritional lifestyles. I loved to cook and make healthy foods taste great, but I started with little knowledge in running a teaching kitchen. Through the mentorship of Dr. Stone and many others, I quickly grew into collaborating on the design of Fresh and Savory, our culinary medicine program. I started as an amateur and became a specialist in developing shared medical appointments (SMA) in culinary and lifestyle medicine.
While I merged my background in product management and design with experience in entrepreneurship and health care – truly a four pillar HFA experience – Sandrine Lambletin, an HFA mentor, supported my communication and project management skills as well as my understanding of project implementation in a large healthcare organization.
Anthony Imamura, Fresh and Savory Chef Educator, also became an unexpected mentor and has been influential in improving the efficiency of our operations. He guided us in using design and creativity in the kitchen, learning and interacting with collaborators, and defining new business opportunities.
Watching these programs grow from the ground up and being an essential part of this team has been an amazing experience. You can hear about the growing success of the program directly from our team and a Fresh and Savory participant in this recent story on Fox 5 local news.
Designing Business Cases
I remember sitting around the conference table at one of our first IM team meetings. A business case and budget needed to be drafted to propose a new initiative. Prior to HFA, I was hesitant about planning budgets. I wanted to see how the team developed their budgets to understand their priorities, structure, and considerations.
During implementation, much of my time has been spent building the business cases, including evaluating, adjusting, and tracking budgets. My confidence in this area has soared. I can attribute much of my growth to the coaching and guidance of Paul Plsek, Innovator-in-Residence at MedStar Institute for Innovation. Regularly, we meet to structure the business case of SMAs to prove this model is not only beneficial for patients but successful and sustainable for the system.
As a young professional continuing to grow in my career, I am always seeking opportunities to improve. Each of these mentors has been essential in helping me grow significantly in only 11 months and will be a leader I look to as an example for years to come.