Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Learning Resolution

Every month when I send out the MHRI monthly e-Newsletter (on the first Sunday of each month!), I write a message to the MedStar research community.  I received several requests to post the January message so others can see it and comment so here it is:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

So what is your New Year’s resolution?

I was at the gym this morning and amazed with how crowded it was. For the last several years, I have been going to the same gym and every January there is this surge of activity for all those people making a pledge to exercise more and get into shape for the New Year.  As I’m sure we can all relate (myself included), we know how this will end for most - it can be difficult to make a resolution and stick with it.

So what is your resolution and how will you make sure you will accomplish it?

My strategy is to pick something that capitalizes on my natural tendencies and is obtainable by completing multiple small acts. My New Year’s resolution for 2014 is to expand my sphere of learning.  I have always enjoyed learning about new things in medicine and science.  Over the last several years as your Research Institute president, I have enjoyed learning about ideal business practices and the business of healthcare. My resolution is to expand my learning even broader beyond these traditional areas.

I can’t believe I am going to reference a quote from a holiday card*, but here it goes:

You live – You learn
You love – You learn
You lose – You learn
You laugh – You learn
You choose – You learn
You ask – You learn
You live – You learn

I am going to also add one more final pair:  You learn – You live. For me, learning adds ‘life’ (fulfillment, excitement, satisfaction) to living.

In addition to adopting this as my New Year’s resolution, I also want to expand this learning attitude to MedStar Health Research Institute. In everything we do, we need to continually be learning (and thus improving) from what we experience. We need to learn from each success and we also need to learn from each failure. With a learning attitude, challenges take on a whole new light because they now become new learning opportunities; it taps into that inner curiosity to understand and improve, and helps melt away frustration or helplessness.

As we start 2014, I challenge you to pick an area that is of personal or professional interest to learn more about and incorporate a learning approach into your daily MedStar activities!  I am excited about the potential of unleashing the ‘learner’ in all of us to make MHRI a best-in-class research organization with unparalleled efficiency and SPIRIT (Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation and Teamwork) values.

I look for to learning from each of you in 2014 and making it the best year yet!

Happy New Year everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Neil for sharing this and your passion for continuous learning. When I read your post, I began to think not only of the Research Institute, but of MedStar Health System and it hit me - MedStar Health as a continuously learning organization.

    The Institute of Medicine (IOM) publishes a series on the learning healthcare system (the most recent report can be accessed at: The attributes of a learning healthcare system include:
    1. Science and Informatics– real-time access to knowledge and digital capture of the care experience
    2. Patient-Clinician Relationships– engaged and empowered patients
    3. Incentives– incentives aligned for value and full transparency
    4. Culture– leadership-instilled culture of learning and a system supportive of continuous quality improvement and learning

    (a table of the characteristics and definitions is available at:

    When I reflect on my first year here at MedStar Health I see that we are certainly on the path to become a continuously learning organization. The report identifies both the need for change as well as the vision of how to transform healthcare:

    “Achieving higher quality care at lower cost will require fundamental commitments to the incentives, culture, and leadership that foster continuous "learning”, as the lessons from research and each care experience are systematically captured, assessed, and translated into reliable care” (IOM, 2013)

    MHRI as an organization has the opportunity to play a central role in MedStar Health’s journey to becoming a continuously learning healthcare system by:
    Translating Research into Practice
    Translating Practice into Research

    Thinking about the characteristics and the simple application of what we already do, each of us as associates, managers,and peers can adopt and model behaviors to support MHRI and MedStar Health to become a continuously learning healthcare system.

    IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2013. Best care at lower cost: The path to continuously learning health care in America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.