Performance Improvement Fun with Phabio: Cristi Cain’s #PHITinSix

This is Part Two of our four-part #PHITinSix series, where we highlight an attendee of our 2016 Public Health Improvement Training (PHIT) each week. This week, meet Cristi Cain.

Cristi is the Director of her local public health program and Accreditation Coordinator at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Cristi’s Story

Most health departments would agree that quality improvement (QI) can be dry at best and futile-seeming at worst. Ours were no exception. However, as a result of attending PHIT 2016, we discovered new ideas that actually make QI and accreditation…fun! One of my favorite sessions at PHIT used Mr. Potato Head dolls in an activity that demonstrated QI concepts, including the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle, in a fun and engaging way. My organization enjoyed this activity so much, we decided to make it a staple in our department.

Despite some pushback, I was able to purchase Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads to bring this PHIT activity to life in my department. These tools have proved useful time and time again; we have used them at QI Council, QI Community of Practice, and numerous QI trainings with our state health department staff members. This QI learning activity received rave reviews, even from people who have a very negative perception of QI and its usefulness.

Meet Phabio, our Accreditation Mascot!

Since PHIT, we’ve been able to streamline a process so QI coaches across our agency can increase the number of employees who understand, buy into, and actually enjoy the QI process.

The fun didn’t stop at activities, though! PHIT is a great place for networking and exchanging ideas, practices, and knowledge. Through a connection I made at PHIT, I am now working with a staff member of another local health department on piloting a QI training series facilitated by our state health department coaches. I also connected with Jeff Soukup, of the Nebraska Department of Health, whose organization has proven to be an invaluable resource and source of support. They inspired the idea to create an “accreditation mascot”—a fun way to raise morale when the team was feeling discouraged.

We adopted Phabio, a buffalo, for a couple of reasons; they happen to be our state mammal, but we mainly chose a buffalo because they walk towards a storm in order to get to the other side faster. Sometimes, QI and accreditation can feel just like weathering a storm! By helping to raise morale, Phabio has been critical to our overall efficiency and has become a great source of conversation, fun, and team building for us. Attending PHIT definitely changed the way our organization tackles QI and accreditation for the better!

Get Involved

Looking for ways to encourage stakeholder buy-in and make QI and accreditation more engaging, like Cristi? Register for #PHIT2017 today »

Looking for ways to stay connected with Performance Improvement professionals beyond PHIT? Join our Public Health Performance Improvement Network (phPIN) »

Want to share your PHIT story? Tweet @NNPHI_ORG using the hashtag #PHITinSix »


Cristi Cain, Director of Local Public Health Programs and Accreditation Coordinator, Kansas Department of Health and Environment

Shaila Huq, Communications Associate, National Network of Public Health Institutes

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