Chief Quality and Safety Officer, Partners Healthcare; Associate Professor of Medicine and Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School
Responsible for oversight of quality and safety programs across Partners Healthcare; actively involved in health services research focused on quality, safety, and healthcare disparities
Do you self-identify as First Nation, Métis, or Inuit? If yes, with what community do you affiliate?
American Indian – Taos Pueblo
What is a typical day like for you?
My day is a mix of meetings with colleagues and trainees; with some significant portions dedicated to reading and writing (papers, grants, position statements). Once per week I see patients in a primary care clinic.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
The wide variety of interactions I can have on any given day – with students, senior health care executives, patients, and others.
What is the least enjoyable part of your job?
Explain the path you took to get to this job (education, internships, etc.).
I completed a degree in chemical engineering at Cornell University in 1995, followed by an MD at Harvard Medical School in 1999. From 1999-2002 I trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. From 2002-2004 I completed a General Medicine Research Fellowship at Harvard Medical School, where I learned research methods focused on health policy research and received my MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Did you experience any obstacles or challenges on your path? How did you overcome these obstacles or challenges?
My biggest obstacle was always not knowing the long term trajectory of any career path. I did not have immediate family members or connections with experience in careers in medicine or other careers that required graduate school level training. I overcame this barrier by identifying very strong mentors at school who helped me navigate my career.
Who or what was the greatest influence that set you on this path?
Early on, my mother was a strong influence in my interested in medical school. She was a practicing nurse. Later on, I was driven by my interest in helping patients achieve better health status, particularly those at most risk, including the poor and racial/ethnic minorities.
What advice would you give others seeking a similar job?
Work hard --- and remember that this is a long term prospect. Don’t get discouraged about how long the training is – it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon; so pace yourself and remember to enjoy your life and pursue your outside interests.
How does your job make a difference?
I always hope that I am improving the health status of large populations.
How do you use science, math and technology in your job?
Every day – my job is focused on research and health system design. This involves regular use of statistics as we analyze large datasets regarding patient health care.
Is there one course you wish you had taken in high school but didn’t? Why?
I honestly cannot think of one right now – in college I can think of a lot! I would have taken a much more diverse set of classes around history, social epidemiology, and other arts and humanities course.
What makes this job right for you?
It combines a few things that I am relatively good at --- understanding large systems, understanding how to analyze and interpret data; and working across many teams of people to achieve important goals.
What's the most bizarre or silliest thing you’ve ever done in this job?
Sorry – don’t have anything for this – I’m kind of boring in that sense!
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
Read – I read a lot of history books. Also like to watch sports (baseball in particular) and do things with my family.
You just won $10 million! What’s the first thing you’d do?
Make sure my two sons had their educations completely paid for. Then take a huge vacation somewhere far away in another country!