Monday, November 6, 2017

How Do Lobsters Grow?

Below is my monthly message for the November 2017 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at MedStarResearch.org/FOCUS.


Friends and Colleagues,

Do you have any idea ‘How Do Lobsters Grow’?

This odd question was put forward at a physician leadership development course earlier this year and has stuck with me ever since. Many don’t realize this, but lobsters are soft, mushy creatures that live in a rigid, hard shell. The shell, obviously, can’t be too big nor too small, so this naturally begs the question...how do lobsters grow?

In a short, compelling video by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski, he explains that as the shell starts to become confining, the lobster feels increased pressure and grows uncomfortable. This stimulates the lobster to crawl under a rock, cast off the shell and produce a new one. The lobster will keep repeating this routine whenever the constraint of the hard shell causes discomfort and stress. He effectively makes the point that the stimulus for the lobster to be able to grow is that it feels uncomfortable. That means that times of stress are also signals for times of growth.

Wow…That is a powerful message and has stayed with me. We all experience times of stress. Stressful experiences are often painful, frustrating and disheartening. They can bring out the worse in us, even when we don’t want it to. However, what if you keep Dr. Twerski’s lobster story in your head and recognize that these stressful times are actually times of growth? Wow, that changes everything!

I was thinking of Dr. Twerski’s video over the last few weeks as we finished our MHRI Fall Town Halls. A major portion of the meeting was dedicated to the IT investments MHRI is making to enhance our infrastructure for clinical trials across the system. In the last few months, we have: 1) gone live with OnCore, a clinical trial management system which handles all aspects of a trial from patient enrollment to sponsor billing, 2) started the installation of PowerTrials, a new feature in the Cerner EHR that will allow for viewing of clinical research information within a patient’s health record, 3) disseminated Vestigo, an IT platform for research pharmacists, across the system and 4) decided on a new IRB electronic system which we will install with our partners at Georgetown so all investigators, at Georgetown and MedStar, can use one IRB system.

That is a lot of change happening in a short period of time and will undoubtedly stress all members of the research team. While the implementation and roll-out of these systems has taken substantial planning with roadblocks along the way, it is the change that is necessary for us to keep growing as an organization. Times of stress are also the signals of growth. I am excited to think about our future-state when all of these IT platforms are fully implemented with automatic interfaces allowing for efficient management, improved communication and enhanced utility of clinical trials for all our patients. It hasn’t been easy, but we can at least thank lobsters for showing us how to grow!

Enjoy this month’s research e-newsletter and thank you for contributing to our growth!

Neil


Read Focus at MedStarResearch.org/FOCUS.

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