Written by: Susannah Brouwer

I recently celebrated my five-year anniversary at CCI. We marked the occasion by drinking wine and playing Banagrams in our conference room. It was perfect.

It has been a fascinating journey over the past five years. I came in pretty new to the field and very new to office life. Not unlike most people these days, my professional path has been a bit circuitous, and CCI was one of my first real grown-up office jobs. It was also one of my first jobs after graduating with a masters in public health, so while I had a bit of academic knowledge knocking around my head, I had everything to learn about the real world.

Oh, and how green I was. I didn’t know what on-boarding meant. I didn’t understand how Outlook calendar invites worked. I didn’t know what PDSA, FQHC, or PCMH stood for. I had never even attended a webinar!

In reflecting back on my early days, I’ve compiled a list of some of the things I’ve learned since then. In no particular order, here are a handful:

  • People will always want cookies in the afternoon at conferences.
  • Train-the-trainer trainings are the ideal way to build capacity, but be prepared for turnover of those trainers themselves. When in doubt, train more trainers.
  • Our programs are only as good as the input we get and how we reflect on them. We try to incorporate the opportunities for participant feedback throughout a program via convening surveys, progress and final reports, and one-on-one discussions. We strive to keep an open line of communication with our partners to facilitate these important conversations. We’re not perfect at it, and it’s still hard to carve out the time for processing this feedback, but we know it’s a necessary part of offering programs that actually serve the needs of our partners.
  • Don’t let your website domain registration expire. If you don’t know who your domain “registrar” is, look it up here. Log-in to your registrar account and make sure that your domain registration is set to auto-renewal, the credit card on file is active, and that your contact email is valid. If it expires, call your registrar immediately to figure out next steps.
  • Employee experience is measured less often and less strategically, but as we learned, it is a vital part of building a strong culture.
  • Middle management training is a huge need for most organizations, including many of our partner health centers.
  • The hardest part about maintaining the work-life balance is keeping yourself accountable to the boundaries you’ve set for yourself.
  • There’s no perfect webinar platform. We’ve looked. We tried them all. You just have to pick one to two that work for you, then get really good at workarounds.
  • Hiring is hard.
  • There’s a keyboard shortcut for moving bullet points up and down: ALT + SHIFT + Up/Down Arrow
  • Don’t overstuff the burrito: For every conference agenda you prepare, take out two things.
  • Switching from an “annual review” performance management model to a more frequent, more informal feedback system makes the process less stressful and way more effective.
  • Having the patient involved in the quality improvement process is key. It’s complicated, takes time, and requires trust, but it’s essential to truly building a patient-centered care. If you’re new to this practice, “shadowing” is a good place to start.
  • Webinars are fine, conferences are great, but the best learning comes from visiting other sites doing similar work. We’ve been able to incorporate site visits into many of our programs. We’ve focused on a range of topics, from building successful care teams to implementing patient portals, in locations as far as New York to as close as Sonoma and Los Angeles.
  • Building and maintaining a content relationship manager like Salesforce is a crazy amount of work, but also such a vital piece of successful project management and data tracking. We’re using Salesforce to track all the different ways we interact with each individual and organization in one central place. We can run quick reports on program activities that feed our internal measurement, funder reports, and communication efforts. Goodbye random spreadsheets hidden in our shared drive, hello centralized data!
  • Post-its are life!



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