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VA Health Care and MIT are partnering in need-driven biomedical research and innovation initiatives through the Catalyst program

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Innovation at the VA

Innovation is a conduit for imagining a new world and, in the context of health care, redefining excellence. This sentiment has long permeated the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Innovation enables us to execute our mission and deliver health care to Veterans in exceptional ways. Innovative VHA solutions like 3D Printing, the Initiative to End Diabetic Limb Loss at VA, and Project CONVERGENCE are improving the delivery of customized solutions to Veterans and enabling the exploration of future health care solutions. So, how do we do it? The answer lies in creating a culture that harnesses a willingness to experiment. Innovation enables frontline staff to take calculated risks, fail early and smart, and methodically test assumptions. These principles create a culture of agility and team learning, aligned with VHA’s goal of becoming a learning organization. By embracing this mindset, we’ve delivered landmark solutions that meet unique Veteran challenges that have not only redefined Veteran-care, but health care around the globe. It is precisely this ability to continually innovate that allows VHA to remain the preferred choice of Veterans.

Why is VHA Innovation Ecosystem collaborating with the Catalyst program?

VHA Innovation Ecosystem’s mission is to enable the discovery and spread of health care innovations within VHA that exceed expectations, restore hope, and build trust within the Veteran community. Working with VA doctors, nurses, Veterans, educators, and industry from across the country, VHA Innovation Ecosystem is at the forefront of health care innovation and is composed of changemakers, who are relentless in creating new experiences for Veterans. MIT Catalyst’s framework sparks innovation from insight to impact, which aligns with VHA Innovation Ecosystem’s priorities and will accelerate the pace of innovation in health care and empower VA employees in Memphis, Salt Lake City, and Boston. MIT Catalyst’s method for executing research focuses effort, compresses time, leverages resources, and develops change agents. MIT Catalyst offers VA innovators the unique opportunity to collaborate with the best and brightest to solve health care challenges and to advance health care globally. Fellows will have access to international thought leaders in innovation, multidisciplinary teams, and sustained mentorship to guide and accelerate their progress. By participating in this opportunity, innovators will be offered salary support for protected time to discover, test, and hone solutions into a practical and effective proof of concept.

Why should you, a VA provider, become a Catalyst Fellow?

You are intimately aware of high priority challenges, needs, and opportunities, which means you are well positioned to influence impactful changes.

You have the opportunity to:

Enhance your career  

You can strengthen your communication skills to work more effectively with business and industry leaders, gain confidence in engaging on cross-disciplinary teams (with engineers, researchers, and improvement advisors), and contribute to creation of intellectual property. 

Consider the commercial possibilities of improving patient outcomes and institutional effectiveness

In this program, you will work with teams of engineers, scientists, and other clinicians to identify, validate, and create a path to implementation for technologies and processes that create solutions in healthcare delivery.

Expand your personal horizon

You will exercise entrepreneurial thinking and increase comfort with ambiguity. Validated projects have the potential to significantly impact healthcare. You might even create and lead a company, as Catalyst Fellows have done in the past and are doing now.

Your commitment to Catalyst

If accepted, your commitment will be supported by the VHA Innovation Ecosystem with salary and protected time. 

Time commitment is 10-12 hours per week
Weekly sessions: Mondays from 10am to 1pm EST
January 4 to June 28, 2021 

Start or continue your application

Director and Site Coordinators

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Suzanne Shirley, LCSW
Director, Fellowships & Community Engagement
VHA Innovation Ecosystem

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Indra Sandal, PhD, MBA
Innovation Specialist
Memphis VA Medical Center

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Samantha Sissel
Innovation Specialist
VA Boston Healthcare System

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Stephen A. Weaver, MS, RN-BC
Research Nurse Study Coordinator, Informatics Nurse Specialist
Salt Lake City VA Medical Center

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