Right now my family and everything is in Houston. I've only been here a month and they haven't joined me yet. They will be out later. For now I just get up, start with a very good breakfast so I have enough energy for the day, and get ready for work.

I live in a temporary place in Arcadia right by the hospital so the commute is easy. I don't even have to get on the freeway. I get in around 7 a.m.

My staff looks to me to make a lot of decisions and recommendations on what actions to take in terms of quality risk, patient advocacy, policy procedures, and infection control.

I work on issues that pop up related to communication between doctors and nurses or between a doctor and a family. I supervise a staff of patient advocates who work on behalf of the patients when they have a problem with a doctor or a nurse, or if they can't get an appointment or maneuver their way through health care issues.

Cancer is a complicated disease and patients and families have a lot of issues and questions to work through. Many of the issues I deal with on a daily basis are very confidential but what's great about working at City of Hope is that it is so focused on treating a certain patient population.

I like to have that single mission: You really get to see the impact you are making in the lives of the patients. I've worked with HIV/AIDS in the past and again, when you are working so acutely, you feel like you are really contributing to the value of the patient's care.

Right now, because the job is new, I attend a lot of meetings about expectations from insurers and regulatory industries. I'm getting acclimated to what California requires. I'm glad I'm already familiar with oncology.

I take care of Failure Modes and Effects Analyses, or FMEA. These are procedures for evaluating and identifying risk areas in the hospital: "How do you keep the plane from crashing?" Actually, that's probably a bad analogy.

We will look at a high-risk procedure or process and predict ways we may have problems and how to avoid those problems. For example, we could look at how to prevent patients from falling and medication errors from occurring problems that impact the quality of patient care.

I like to spend time with staff providing an ear to hear about their needs and support their work.

I often eat lunch at my desk. Another wonderful thing about working at City of Hope is the walk to the cafeteria and back. I feel like I'm walking through a park with trees and flowers. It is healing for me as well as the patients. I have a good view of the mountains from work as well.

I also do a great deal of reading to keep up with the learning curve hospital regulations and all kinds of stuff I have a huge amount of learning to do. There will never be a point where I don't have to learn anymore. I would be pretty bored if I didn't have that kind of challenge.

My typical day ends around 6 or 6:30 p.m. I don't know what it's like to leave and have everything done. I could work 24 hours and not have it done.

When I'm done with work, usually I'll head to the gym.

From there, I go home and make dinner. Sometimes I do a little work at night; sometimes I just become a vegetable. "
As told to Sarah Filus

* Steven Hartranft
Vice President of Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
City of Hope Cancer Center

Culture Shock: "When I arrived at LAX there was a woman standing in a clear box and people were walking by criticizing her body. They were taping it for some reality TV show. I was thinking: 'This is really an introductory moment to what it will be like living here.'"
Workin' Out: "I'm a weights guy."
Movies: " I know it's probably heresy in L.A. but I rarely go to the cinema."
Books: Science fiction

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