Juhi Gor is a medical student and president of the IHI Open School Chapter at East Carolina University. Below, she reflects on her experience and offers advice for other Chapter Leaders.
What motivated you to get involved with the Chapter at East Carolina University (ECU)? How has this experience been meaningful for you?
As a member of the leadership team, I have observed that there is indeed hope for improvement in health care and that there are several areas within which students can make an impact. There may always be health care professionals that get stuck in the status quo and believe that it’s too hard a system to improve, simply because things have “been that way” for a long time. The IHI and Open School community has demonstrated that change is possible, and it is a major reason for my continued involvement with the Chapter and quality improvement.
Acting as the Chapter Leader for the IHI Open School Chapter at ECU has been one of my most valuable experiences in medical school. It has given me a sense of community and bridged the gap between myself and peers who are pursuing careers across health care professions. When I became the president of our Chapter, I knew that I wanted to stress the importance of interprofessionalism in health care and the importance of efforts to improve care coordination amongst future physicians, nurses, physical therapists, physician assistants, dentists, and others involved in caring for our nation’s population.
The Chapter meetings and events offer the perfect opportunities to portray how health care is a team effort and improving the quality and safety of patient care relies on us working together. In doing so, we’ll be better prepared to implement innovative ideas in an effective manner.
Interprofessional collaboration is a clear priority for your Chapter. How have you promoted it within your work?
With outstanding effort and support from our steering committee, the ECU Open School Chapter organized several meetings that focused on different topics. All these events emphasized the importance of quality improvement, patient centered care, innovative thinking, and interprofessional work.
For example, we began our year with a panel about the current opioid crisis, during which students from various schools listened to dentists, physical therapists, physicians, and nurses discussed their experiences with the epidemic. We also organized a round table discussion focused on sexual assault, incorporating the perspectives of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, emergency department physician, police officer, dentist, and social worker. Other events focused on themes like breaking down communication barriers by using effective terminology amongst health care workers, communicating with the deaf and hard-of-hearing population, and innovating across our quality improvement projects.
Through these events, students have had the opportunity to listen to current health care professionals in various fields and to practice what they’ve been taught. Every event required students to sit with peers from other schools, ultimately building their own interprofessional health care teams to collaborate with during the events. It was rewarding to see how complete strangers were able to pull together and truly work as a unit within one hour to discuss the topic at hand. These events have proven that health care has never been, and will never be, an individual effort. The work of multiple people coming together brings multiple perspectives to the table to tackle challenges.
What other elements of your experience have been influential for you?
I took the knowledge I gained one step further with my involvement in a paracurriculum program at the Brody School of Medicine. This paracurriculum, called Leaders in Innovative Care (LINC), focuses on increasing competency in health system sciences through experiential learning. I spent the past summer learning about public health policies, speaking with state legislatures, visiting the public health department, sitting in on hospital administrative meetings, and practicing the implementation of process improvement tools. This program allowed me to gain knowledge about innovative thinking and the importance of taking risks, and to prevent myself from being stuck in the status quo of our healthcare system.
After my involvement with the LINC paracurriculum, I was able to dive into my work with the Open School Chapter even further. I became involved in two quality improvement projects myself, focused on improving health outcomes in the diabetic population and decreasing emergency department overcrowding and misuse. I carried the knowledge gained from LINC into the Chapter meetings to spark discussion on leading needed change in health care and leveraging improvement science to do so. I worked to focus our events on challenging what is considered “normal” practice and working interprofessionally to make things better for our future patients.
What advice would you give other Chapter Leaders launching work locally?
One piece of advice that I would give to every health care professional interested in quality improvement is to believe in your capacity to challenge the experiences or systems that frustrate you. If you have a vision for how something can be done better or more efficiently, then voice that idea repeatedly and work to make something happen! My favorite part of the book Originals: How Nonconformists Change the World expresses this perfectly by quoting George Bernard Shaw: “The reasonable [person] adapts [themselves] to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to [themselves]. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable [person].”
Learn about the Open School and Chapter network in our free course, OS 101: Introduction to the IHI Open School, or check out the Chapter Leader Toolkit for more advice on creating a sustainable and strong Chapter leadership.