In my undergraduate years, I studied sociology. As a young adult frustrated by the dysfunction of our world, I immersed myself in the theories of Durkheim, Marx, and Weber trying to understand how groups and societies functioned. Sociology is notoriously depressing, as you don’t get any easy answers or solutions to the problems you learn about, but I enjoyed having a space to think about it anyway.
At CCMU, we’re a divided office. My “hard” science colleagues take every opportunity to (good-naturedly) remind us “soft” science graduates of our background, but we can all agree our work needs both. Also, we all have background and additional education in public health and policy, which provides us with more common ground and a healthy mixture of the soft and hard sciences. We’re a well-rounded group of scientists.
Similarly, CCMU recognizes that health care systems change is only successful with both a hard and soft science approach. We rely on verifiable data to understand the scope of problems that we are trying to solve, and then work to develop practical solutions with an understanding of how relationships, motivations, and culture affect our potential for success. We apply this thinking as we carry out our work, both in high-level strategic talks with Colorado policymakers and with local, on-the-ground involvement within communities.
We also recognize that the two approaches cannot happen in isolation, so we act as a bridge between policy and the community. Our policy and advocacy work would not be successful without the work of communities across the state who have taken the initiative to understand the gaps in their local systems as well as the resources they could use to address those gaps. Similarly, our work with communities would not be successful without our policy expertise and ability to navigate confusing regulations and laws. Colorado communities are laboratories of health systems change at the local level, and our state’s policy and legislative processes provide the tools and framework for communities to implement that change.
We take great pride in our role as a bridge, and enjoy encouraging closer alignment between state-level policy work and local-level community work. We provide communities with an understanding of the greater context for their work and a greater understanding of how policy changes will affect them. If a community is testing innovative health care models and needs legislative or regulatory intervention to ensure success, we can help with that, too. At the state Capitol, we deliver feedback from communities on the results of policy implementations and also explain where gaps still exist. By fulfilling this role, we believe we maximize the impact of health systems change.
Whether it’s our work or our inter-office rivalries, the answer is always that balance is better. Although, I’ll probably always have a little extra love for my social sciences!