Doctors should love architects: Design & Health Leadership Group 2016 Meeting

2016.04.13 Design and Health Leadership Group of the AIA  04122
2016.04.13 Design and Health Leadership Group of the AIA 04122 (View on Flickr.com)

If you’re accountable for the health of a person, their family, and their community, and there’s another professional designing the environments they’ll be in 90% of the time, you’ll want to partner with them, too.

I am the most junior physician member of the American Institute of Architects Design & Health Leadership Group, joining Andrew Ibrahim, MD (@andrewmibrahim) and Matt Trowbridge, MD (@MTrowBr) who are already members.

I’m happy with that position because of the personal mantra that I’ve recited many times here:

  • I’m not that smart
  • My ideas are not that unique
  • I love change (Added in 2015™)

This, my first meeting, and the DHLG’s first meeting in 2016, included members of the Design & Health Research Consortium, which is:

The AIA Foundation, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture has established the AIA Design & Health Research Consortium to advance university-led research in the area of design and health.

The 17 members of the Consortium are comprised of experts from both design and public health disciplines; the team must be lead by an ACSA or ASPPH member school or program.

They’ve got a great progress report online if you want to know more about the Consortium members.

I just want to comment on a few things I noticed/caught my eye.

Doing the work of integrating design & health – still in early stages

2016.04.13 Design and Health Leadership Group of the American Institute of Architects Meeting 2193
2016.04.13 Design and Health Leadership Group of the American Institute of Architects Meeting 2193 (View on Flickr.com)

What is evident and evokes passion for this group –

  • where people spend their time impacts their health,
  • the healthiness of those places is influenced by the way they’re designed,
  • the people who design them therefore have a huge impact on health and wellness.

Is not yet fully integrated into everyone’s thinking.

Before we say that architects are not up to speed, it could equally be said that the idea that the American health care system has health integrated into is also not fully realized.

The stories I heard are about public health / allied health / medicine / architecture schools just beginning to collaborate with each other, understanding each others’ acronyms, are important first steps.

Resilience for all, including the designers and care providers

2016.04.13 Design and Health Leadership Group of the American Institute of Architects Meeting 0476
2016.04.13 Design and Health Leadership Group of the American Institute of Architects Meeting 0476 – “Architecture Student does not equal healthy lifestyle” – Johnathan Nelson (@addictsinc) and Lynn Dearborn, PhD, UIUC (View on Flickr.com)

The professions themselves are undergoing introspection as well. I know well that the medical profession is thinking about how it creates and nurtures physicians to serve and be well at the same time. This poster presented at the Consortium shows that the same thing is happening in the architecture profession, which to my ears sounds as grueling if not more than physician training.

So, we have a lot more in common than that we spend time in buildings.

As usual, I see lots of connections to clinical medicine in this profession that is learning how to be better at what it does for the benefit of society.

Being in this tribe

The other important thing I notice is how people arrive at a group like this. Much like so many other rooms I have been in in my career, I see people who are innovating in the out of the way places. Their work is not universally understood or cherished by professional colleagues – Yet. They probably identify with the famous Steve Jobs quote below. They don’t walk in straight lines to get places. They are probably at times thought of as non-compliant.

I clearly know nothing about this way of being.

And I love this century, in a world learning to love better, in places that make healing less necessary because they were designed to be well to begin with.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
― Steve Jobs

I’ll be posting again about this work, and also how it relates to the work of Kaiser Permanente, which will also be featured at AIACon2016.

Design is in our DNA, since our founder, Sidney Garfield, MD, wanted to be an architect before he became a doctor.

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