Five Years Later – What I’ve Learned through IHQC

IHQC-2019-Headshots-KatBawden-21July 2020 marks the 5th anniversary of the creation of the Institute for High Quality Care – giving me a moment to pause and reflect on our work; on our alumni, partners, and supporters; and on what the spirit of IHQC truly is.

IHQC officially launched in July 2015 with the aim to support safety net healthcare, to translate improvement tools and techniques into accessible approaches for all roles in healthcare, and to build problems solvers.  For me, leading the creation and growth of IHQC; working with a team of brilliant, funny and passionate staff; collaborating with faculty, funders, and colleagues; and supporting the best in healthcare delivery – has been an honor, a challenge, and a joy.

At 5 years, as a parent you shepherd your children to a new phase in their lives – Kindergarten – where not only skills but valuable life lessons are imparted (per Robert Fulghum’s 1986 essay – Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten).  So, I’ll take a moment and steal a page from Mr. Fulghum’s work to share what I’ve learned (relevant, irreverent, and in no particular order) in the 5 years of IHQC:

  • Content and technical tools can be made easier and even fun to learn and use.
  • A good learning event must include content, activities, and opportunities to interact.
  • Picking a company logo and colors is really hard.
  • Witnessing an “Aha” moment for QI teams and clinic staff is pure, fist-pumping, high-fiving gold!
  • It’s ok to say no if the work doesn’t quite match the mission – but awfully hard to do when you’re starting out, trying to stay afloat and innately wired to be a helper.
  • When presenting, facilitating, or hosting – it’s always easier to start with a smile, a good quote, and a comfortable pair of shoes.
  • PDSA can be a 4-letter word – but making changes easier, smaller, paced and focused on a greater goal is really the point.
  • Walk the talk – leverage the tools and topics you are sharing including project design, project management, prioritization, budgeting, communication skills, and empathy.
  • The challenges in population and community-based health are serious and seemingly endless – but not insurmountable…and…
  • Surround yourself with good people – experts in their areas; aligned with your vision; and/or simply interesting in so many different ways – because they will keep you energized, balanced, real and moving forward.


My thanks to our funders, supporters, partners and experts for being a strong part of our beginning and our first five years. My thanks to our more than 1000 alumni, individuals and participating clinic organizations – for your time, your hard work on hundreds of improvement and implementation efforts, and your commitment to your communities. My thanks to my team who have shared the IHQC journey – we’d be nowhere without you.

My hope is that we’ve been able to embody that original vision and spirit for IHQC – an organization focused on “increasing the quality and accessibility of safety net healthcare.”  Now on to the next 5+ years!

IHQCFive Years Later – What I’ve Learned through IHQC