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A Year of Transformation at Dell Med

July 12, 2021

This blog post is authored by Eugenia Lin, 2020-2021 Orthopaedic Value-Based Health Care fellow at Dell Medical School.

I started January 2020 with a six-year plan, rigid goals and an expectation of what the external world and my own personal slice of it would look like. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic quickly upended my outlook along with the lives of everyone around the world. During this period of uncertainty, my path was transformed by a tweet from Kevin Bozic, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery and Perioperative Care at Dell Med, calling for applicants for Dell Med’s Orthopaedic Value-Based Health Care Fellowship. Born in Austin and growing up as the daughter of two Texas Exes, I spent many years trying to orchestrate a return to this city, especially after my time at Dell Med as an inaugural Choosing Wisely STAR, a program dedicated to providing a collaborative network and didactic teaching about value-based care for medical students. With a dash of internet serendipity amid a backdrop of global change, I finally made it home for a year that could only be described as transformative.

Even in the most restrictive days of the pandemic, the speed of innovation and discovery in the fellowship was still fast-paced, which allowed me to observe and absorb the workings of the Musculoskeletal Institute at UT Health Austin and Dell Med. From learning the ins and outs of operationalizing value-based health care, to deeply listening and learning on how to make equity a pillar of academic research, there were always plenty of things to work on and plenty of people with whom to work. I worked on new research projects using artificial intelligence to make care more patient-centered, brainstormed and learned new techniques for data visualization and experienced the new wave of telemedicine and its many evolving iterations in a clinical setting. Finding my own voice and interest through new, self-started projects was always encouraged throughout my fellowship.

Transformation of anything — from having the vision to change health care as a whole to helping a young woman shape her career path — takes a village. The relationships, friendships and networks I have made here could only be built through Dell Med’s faculty and staff. From the moment I walked through the proverbial doors (It was mid-pandemic, after all.), the strong sense of community emanated from everyone I met. My mentors, Prakash Jayakumar, Kevin Bozic and Karl Koenig, provided a safety net and space where I could listen, create, innovate and learn, and my colleagues at the Musculoskeletal Institute inspired me to continue seeking growth. I have tremendous gratitude for the people here, as the steps that I will take in the future are not my own; they’re also the steps of those who have come before me and guided the way.

As Austin and other parts of the world emerge from the pandemic, my time in this fellowship comes to an end. But rather than seeing this as a door closing, I view this as a reminder that Dell Med will always remain with me as a place that transformed me and gave me experiences to take with me wherever my path leads.