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Pradipta Komanduri

Class of 2005

What is your current role in health care?

“I have had the opportunity to work in multiple academic health system settings in my career – in St. Louis, Chicago, and now Seattle.  Currently, at Seattle Children’s, I oversee operations of clinical support service areas such as pharmacy, radiology, home care, and nutrition.  I also oversee our community health and mental and behavioral health services, which have been particularly critical areas of focus as we continue to recover from COVID19.  In addition, my role is often accountable for executing key strategic initiatives across the enterprise, such as our Epic conversion, social determinants of health screening, and our Just Culture implementation.  Outside of my work at Seattle Children’s, I co-founded a small business alongside a friend from grad school, in which we are focused on unique learning opportunities to help train the next generation of healthcare leaders.”

What stands out as a favorite memory during your time as an MHA student?

“My favorite memories involve funny moments with my classmates – we had such a fun time in graduate school.  Certainly, we were all challenged with our schoolwork and the pressure of deadlines, but we always had laughs along the way.  We did everything together, so we behaved very much like a family – we studied together, ran errands with each other, had meals together, and sometimes even entered heated debates like siblings.  We’ve been through many life milestones together.  I keep in touch with some of my classmates to this day and we always have some inside joke that resonates even in our current lives.”

How has the MHA Program helped prepare you for your career?

“Healthcare is unlike any other industry, so having a top-notch education was incredibly important to gain the foundational knowledge I needed to ultimately be successful in practice.  To this day, the Minnesota problem-solving methodology helps me facilitate teams in my daily work and I think that is a unique strength of our program.  Having had the chance to learn that in depth and then apply it in our summer internships with the guidance of practicing executives was critical in my learning journey.  In addition, our alumni network is incredible.  Having the ability to reach out to alumni across the country to gain insights, compare notes, and share opportunities has been important for my learning and success.”

What challenges and opportunities will healthcare leaders encounter in the next 5-15 years? What skills will leaders need to be successful in light of these challenges and opportunities?

“These past few years have been incredibly challenging.  We have some work ahead of us to repair and rebuild our teams in ways that we have never done before.  Our systems have been brought to their knees and, along the way, we have shed a light on inequities that have contributed to significant health disparities.  Healthcare leaders, in some ways, have an opportunity to start over.  We need to engage teams and the community in redesigning our systems, rethinking models of care, developing our workforce, leveraging technology to its full potential, and shifting toward treating the whole patient rather than episodes of care.  We will need to build more collaborative partnerships with one another and advocate collectively in order to do better.  While all of this can seem overwhelming to some, I view this as our time to reimagine the healthcare delivery system so that it works for everybody we serve.

COVID19 was unlike anything we had ever experienced.  Living in Washington, we were one of the first states to have seen a COVID19 patient and so we had to develop many protocols for the first time, all while it was spreading rapidly.  The initial response and attempts for containment, although we had some plans in place, was a lot more complex than we anticipated.  Also, the logistics of bringing urgent cases into the hospital were challenging to coordinate with how fast COVID was spreading.

We were lucky at the children’s hospital to not have seen some of the COVID surges as some of our adult hospital counterparts, who were bearing most of the weight of this pandemic – from caring for inpatients, to emergency departments being overloaded, to setting up vaccination centers.  This pandemic has definitely taken a toll on our front-line team members, not just as caregivers but also personally.  One area that was particularly challenging in our pediatric world was the impact of the pandemic on kids’ mental health, particularly with school closures and remote learning early on – we have seen a surge in kids coming in with mental and behavioral health challenges.  This is an area we are continuing to watch in terms of the long-term effects on kids.

Telehealth was another challenge – although we had some capabilities in place, we had to figure out how to quickly scale it in a HIPAA-compliant, secure, and patient-centered way.  Planning remote work was even a challenge, thinking of how to deploy the right equipment to team members who could work safely off-site.  Then there are the ongoing challenges of supply chain issues that will likely continue for some time, unfortunately.

Fundamentally, I think leaders need to focus on taking care of their teams.  This means taking the time to learn what is happening at the front-line, listening for ideas to improve their work, and removing barriers whenever possible.  We need to be flexible and creative in our problem-solving, with a deference to expertise from our clinicians, front-line team members, and other partners. Creating a better environment for our teams will allow our teams to take better care of our patients.  Leaders also need to be active learners and disruptors when it comes to eliminating biases and inequities in our systems.  We have to role model the right behaviors, maintain a sense of optimism, communicate clearly, and inspire our teams to achieve excellence.  Along with the strategic and visionary work we like to do, we need to maintain a bias toward action and be willing to do the hard work alongside our teams at the front-lines.”

If you could give one piece of advice to a current student, what would it be?

“Listen, learn, and stay humble no matter where you are in your professional journey.  Maintain a growth mindset and surround yourself with truth-tellers to inform your decision-making.  Everything else will fall into place as it should, in its own time.”

Why is your class the best class ever?

“Because we were the best cast of characters – every day was a perfect script for a sitcom.”

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