University of Minnesota | Rochester

UMR Student Blog Posts/Reflections
Center for Innovation TRANSFORM 2012

The four University of Minnesota Rochester students who were awarded scholarships to attend the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation TRANSFORM 2012 Conference share their reflections on this unique and enriching experience. 

Lauren Smith

Walking across the skyway to the Mayo Civic Center I had mixed emotions of excitement and nervousness. I had no idea of what to expect since I have never attended a conference, especially one that was as large as the Transform conference. After signing in and receiving all the material provided (which included a booklet that contained schedules and note taking pages, and a name badge) I began my three day journey of listening to amazing speakers, networking with healthcare professionals, and learning of the continuing innovations taking place across the country. It was the most educational, thought-provoking three days of my life. It sounds corny, but it truly was. I have never been given such a remarkable opportunity in my entire life.

The speakers were all superb; each one was able to engage the audience and inform them of the many happenings in the healthcare community. There were so many innovations to improve hospital and patient care experiences; I am so excited to see them implemented in the future years. Besides the speakers and presentations at the Transform conference, what intrigued me the most was how technologically updated the conference was. People were encouraged to use their laptops, ipads, cell phones, and other technology throughout the conference to keep others across the country and globe informed. There was a constant twitter feed displayed in the lobby, and tweets were read at random by the conference host throughout the day. It was so interesting to be able to see what others were saying about the conference in “real time.”

The most outstanding part of the conference, I felt, was the ability to network during the breaks. I met many influential business and healthcare professionals; some while waiting for a presentation to begin, others while standing in the beverage line. No matter where we began talking it always turned into an educational and highly beneficial experience. Several professionals even offered me their email address and business card to contact them for any questions about my future schooling or guidance in my career pathway.

The transform conference has given me power and support I need to carry on in my quest and aspirations in a healthcare profession. As I walked out of the skyway on the last day of the conference I knew I would remember this opportunity forever, and that someday I will attend it again. I want to thank UMR and the Center for Innovation for allowing me to attend the conference that has truly changed my life.

Laura Traut

As I walked in to the colorfully decorated civic center, I was instantly in awe. I admired the large number of professionals who traveled near and far to attend the three day long Transform Conference hosted annually by Mayo’s Center for Innovation. To kick off the conference, a select number of speakers presented on some of their new studies and work. I could see the passion that each and every speaker had about their work as they spoke.

Out of the whole conference, one of these speakers in particular, Dr. Virend Sommers, stood out to me the most. Dr. Sommers is a consultant in the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases at Mayo Clinic. His presentation focused on sleep deprivation and obesity (if you are interested his Presentation is posted on this website. Everyone knows there is an obesity epidemic within the United States, but the statistics he showed were still shocking to me. In 1990 10%-14% of the population was obese; by 2010 it grew to more than 30% of the population. Not only were the obesity statistics astounding, but the number of people with sleep apnea cases also came as a surprise. For those of you who do not know what sleep apnea is, it is when the postural muscles tone is lost, allowing structures such as the tongue to relax and fall back thereby obstructing the airway. In 1993, 15 million people had sleep apnea; after some revision they now believe it is up to 25 million. The direct correlation between sleep apnea and obesity led Dr. Sommers and his team to the conclusion that sleep apnea is a predisposition to obesity. Not only does sleep apnea cause sleep deprivation in the individual suffering from it, but it also deprives their partners of sleep as well.

After learning how sleep apnea may be a key factor in sleep deprivation and obesity, Dr. Sommers went on to educate us on statistics which may pertain to a wider population of people. These statistics showed a correlation between sleep deprivation and Facebook. After Facebook was invented, sleep deprivation increased. From the past three years at the University of Minnesota Rochester, it was reiterated in many classes that correlation does not mean causation. However, this is still valuable information that can be used as a basis of study. More and more people in today’s world text, tweet, write on walls, or just plain web surf before bed; I know I have been guilty of it. Dr. Sommers explained how this exposure to artificial light decreases melatonin production (which is important to make you drowsy). Therefore this could be a major cause of the increase in sleep deprivation. With these correlations as background, Dr. Sommers and his team performed a study which compared sleep deprived individuals to individuals with adequate amounts of sleep. They measured brain waves, calories, and energy expenditure (or level of activitiy). Their findings were that the sleep deprived individuals overall consumed more calories than the baseline while the level of activity remained the same. Therefore people who sleep less are at higher risk for obesity.

This presentation really opened my eyes and got me thinking. Everyone has heard of the “freshman 15” for college students. What if this is just related to their sleep schedule? Students staying up late studying, and getting up early for classes all day may cause them to consume more calories than they normally would. It may also have a contribution to the obesity epidemic today. How could we get students to increase their amount of sleep?

This presentation really showed me what it means to think critically. I hope to use these same kind of critical thinking skills in my capstone internship with the ‘Care at a Distance’ project. Modern day technology may be a factor in obesity but it can also benefit the health care system. Technology can provide care to underserved communities that don’t have access to the kind of health care we have here in Rochester.

TRANSFORM 2012Kate Scheffler

My experience throughout the TRANSFORM conference was one of complete amazement. I was absolutely blown away with the innovation of the delivery of healthcare that is taking place throughout the world. I was especially interested in the process by which these innovating ideas began.

I got the opportunity to attend one of the GE Breakout sessions during my time at the conference. When I walked into this session, I was bombarded by white boards, sticky-notes, and black sharpies. Slightly intimidated, I walked into the room with the hopes of blending into the crowd and silently observing the session. As I would soon realize, this would not be the case. After the sticky-notes and sharpies were handed out, we were instructed to walk around the room and read through the questions on the white boards. We were asked to share our ideas or solutions on the sticky notes, and place them on the boards. As the boards began to fill up with sticky notes, the formation of solutions began.

Although this breakout session was initially intimidating, I was impressed by how easily ideas came to me. Through the sticky note technique, I was able to write my thoughts on paper rather than convey my thoughts through conversation in a room full of strangers. The sticky note technique was also effective because it allowed us to organize our ideas in a colorful scheme that was very thought stimulating. At the end of the session, we effectively organized the thoughts and ideas of around 45 people into cohesive solutions to current problems in the delivery of healthcare.

Through my time spent at the conference, I have gained a greater knowledge and respect for the innovation of healthcare that is being done. This has led me to pursue the possibility of creating a capstone experience with the CFI at Mayo.

Jake Anderson

Small School Opportunities that can TRANSFORM you (and Healthcare)

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Transform conference; a three day conference held here in Rochester. The conference brings together innovators in the field of health care. The conference’s focus is on how to make the delivery and experience of health care better for patients. I greatly enjoyed all of the speakers. My favorite session was “Connecting for Change”. The speaker at this session resonated with me; his name is Rushika Fernaneopulle. His key point was about the need to innovate not just improve. His practice to lower primary care costs and keep “at-risk” patients out of the hospital was enlightening and thought-provoking, not to mention proven. His experience illustrates that progress can be made on these difficult issues. His energy and creativity were contagious. As a result of the conference, I feel challenged to innovate as well.

On a lighter note, Garrison Keillor closed out the event. My favorite quote of his was “[Mayo has] international experience with small town manners.” I couldn’t agree more with this charming summation. I would extend his quote to include not only Mayo, but also the University of Minnesota-Rochester. This university’s experience is like no other. The subjects are interrelated and taught in an integrated fashion by professors and instructors who know me by name. Class sizes are kept near 50. And finally, the capstone experience is designed in conjunction with the university to fit my experience and aspirations; all while maintaining the highest standards of performance and expectations.

The TRANSFORM conference was a great opportunity to apply my education to the real world and the issues inherent in the complex healthcare environment. Everyone seemed committed to making positive changes to the systems in place; while at the same time, respecting the work that had gone before. I would definitely recommend attending the conference if the opportunity arose.