Jameela Alkhowaiter Al-Ajmi, MD
2013-2014 Hamad Medical Corporation Fellow
What brought you here, to your IHI Fellowship?
I joined IHI as a fellow in September 2013 – the opportunity came up quickly, so I had so much to learn when I arrived from Qatar. I still did not know all about the fellowship, about this work. Is it pure quality? Because I am doctor in infectious disease, my knowledge is mostly related to disease treatments, prevention, and so on. I do some quality work in infection control – using quality improvement techniques such as lean six sigma to improve capability and performance and applying clinical microsystems with a small group of people working on a regular basis to provide care to ICU patients.
But still it was hard, to be honest. I was stressed when I came here – suddenly to be exposed to other specialties, other cultures, a different language … I was thinking, how am I going to be here in this office?
What's something that has surprised you?
The people here are very nice, which is good! It makes me more relaxed so I’m happy to come every day to the office to do my work. And the way of teaching me. When I joined IHI, I learned the people here are totally different from any other organization I’ve been in. The door is open for everybody; you have open doors.
Also from the beginning I have to learn about quality. It’s totally new for me. Because I am a doctor my focus is related to the patient mostly – pure medicine. So now I’m learning from experts who study quality, and it is not an easy subject. It’s not easy to understand and to apply it to my own work. I need to observe, to study it. But joining the IA program [IHI’s Improvement Advisor Professional Development Program] with Sandy [Murray, IHI faculty member] has really helped me a lot. It’s helping me understand how you can execute your quality improvement projects in your organization, and how you can achieve good results, and even spread the changes.
So I’m studying and practicing at the same time, with my organization back home. I spent two weeks back home during the Christmas holiday – mostly to see my family because I miss them. And I also spent time with people in my organization working on my projects: one focuses on reduction of ventilator-associated pneumonia in the trauma intensive care unit, and one involves reducing emergency department staff exposure to active tuberculosis cases.
So, you know, studying here, practicing there. One part of the learning process.
What's one thing you've learned already?
I am learning to create ideas and turn them to real processes, and how to communicate with others and share my experiences with them – how to open my brain and heart to different cultures, different people!
What are you most excited about?
To know more about quality, about leadership, and to apply this in my work. And more communication with others, with the different people here who have such different ideas about the health care system. I’m learning from everybody at IHI, because we have a very different culture.
We have a fellowship meeting every Friday where I discuss my thoughts with the other fellows. We discuss many things, what’s going on, what we did this week, what we are working on. It is nice to chat with others, share the experiences. Also one of the things I like here is being able to do site visits. It is not easy to do site visits if you are not under one of the US organizations; [being an IHI Fellow] really helps us do site visits.
I am also thinking about the challenge of applying what I am doing here back home; reconnecting with my organization, my team. It will not be easy!
To read more of Dr. Jameela's bio, click here. For more informaiton about IHI's Fellowship Program, visit us here.
To learn more about what IHI and health care leaders are doing to empower quality improvement in the Middle East, read Maureen Bisognano's most recent blog.