Friday, June 22, 2018

Team Building Activities

I posted about the recent manager’s retreat a few weeks ago. At that retreat, the managers participated in many activities, including a team-building ice-breaker. Two of the manager’s at UTC, Tina Stanger of Contracts & Grants and Mihriye Mete of Biostatistics & Biomedical Informatics, brought that activity to the office, opening it up to anyone at UTC who wanted to participate.

The photos don’t do the experience justice! The associates at UTC were enthusiastic and efficient! It was a great experience to help bring folks together. From long-time associates to summer interns, it was a collaborative effort of success.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Guiding Medical Students to Research

Each year, MedStar Health awards scholarships to approximately 30 first-year Georgetown University medical students so that they can participate in research projects over their summer break. For seven weeks, each summer scholar shown in this picture will work under the direction of a MedStar Health physician-investigator. In addition to conducting research, the students are given the opportunity to have clinical exposure early in their medical school career. Their experience culminates with a capstone presentation in the fall.

Last week was the start of the student’s official work and they all met at MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) for orientation before dispersing to meet with their mentors that afternoon.

Congratulations to the Class of 2021 Scholarship Recipients! I hope you enjoy your summer experience and keep research in mind as you move forward in your studies. You can see the full list of recipients here.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Manager's Retreat: Teamwork & Team Dynamics

Guest Blogger: Karen Wade
Vice President, Research Administrative Services
At the Research Institute, we all work hard to support our clinicians & investigators to help provide positive patient outcomes. As a management team, we were long overdue for dedicated time together to refocus our energies on continuing to strengthen our bonds as team members and enhancing our professional growth as leaders of the Research Institute.

Well, we took this time at the end of May and it was such an enlightening experience! The retreat began on Thursday evening, with dinner where we spent time catching up with each other and getting to know the newer members of the team. We then moved into very simple, though some may say not so simple, exercises in verbal and non-verbal communication. How eye-opening it was to realize how much we communicate non-verbally, both positive and negative! We closed out the evening with a team-building exercise which taught us the importance of effective listening (it took us a bit to figure this one out) and partnership to achieve a common goal. The realization of the power of effective teamwork was very evident.

We got an early start on Friday with exercises geared to identifying the qualities we each bring to the organization and how best to collectively use those qualities to make MHRI a better organization. We put this newly acquired information to the test when we formed teams to build structures using tape and spaghetti that would support a marshmallow for 3 seconds. While this may sound silly, the exercise made us keenly aware of the team dynamics and how best to leverage everyone’s contribution for a successful outcome, something that I hope all of those in attendance can take back to their teams.

Closing the Retreat with a walkthrough MHRI’s rich history and all that we have accomplished as an organization was a great way to remind us of the impact of our work. We have so much to celebrate and so much more to look forward to in the years to come.

There is also a short video with more photos from the retreat that can be watched here.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Three C's

Below is my monthly message for the June 2018 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Why do we work? Why do we drag ourselves out of bed every morning? What a silly question. We work because we have to make a living. Sure, but is that the only reason?

On Friday afternoon, I was driving back from an all-day, off-site meeting with all the MHRI managers from locations across the system. These talented colleagues are at the heart of our research operation that happens at 40 different MedStar sites. Given the geographic spread, these MHRI leaders are often limited to virtual interactions and rarely have the opportunity to spend time together. While we spent time on many topics, from communication styles to associate pulse survey results and suggestions, what was really happening in that room was fascinating, wonderful—and heartwarming.

As we closed the meeting, we spent a few minutes to reflect on what was most notable about the meeting. Every comment was about the people in the room rather than the work we were doing. People appreciated having a chance to get to know their system-wide teammates and working with them together in the same location.

On my drive home, as I was smiling and thinking about these comments, it reminded me about a recent Harvard Business Review article entitled The 3 Things Employees Really Want: Career, Community, Cause. Adopted from the article:
  • Career is about work: having a job that provides autonomy, allows you to use your strengths, and promotes your learning and development. It’s at the heart of a learning healthcare system.
  • Community is about people: feeling respected, cared about, and recognized by others. It drives our sense of connection and belongingness.
  • Cause is about purpose: feeling that your work makes a meaningful impact, identifying with the organization’s mission, and believing that it does some good in the world. It’s a source of pride.
In the article they present research data (and maybe that is why I like it so much!) from a Facebook employee survey, which found that most people are not satisfied with just one aspect reflected in their jobs and often rate all three buckets as important - 90% had a tie in importance between at least two of the three buckets. The research found that priorities were strikingly similar across age groups. Similarly, there were no major differences by role, or by location.

At MedStar Health, we are fortunate that we do such important, meaningful work. If ever there was an important cause, I cannot think of one more important than saving and improving lives. At MHRI, the associate survey has helped identify career and professional development as an area of opportunity, which we will continue to give greater attention and effort. However, what I was reminded about on Friday is that we are also so fortunate to have a rich, talented and caring community.

As we wind down this rainy weekend, let’s all take this moment to reflect about our own personal ‘community.’ It’s all about the people in our lives – our family, our friends and the people we share our lives with at work. And it’s also about the people we don’t know as well but still help through our advances in healthcare today… and for the people we may never get to meet that will benefit from our advances tomorrow.

Thank you for all you do today and tomorrow to advance health at MedStar.