MHQP Welcomes Molly Totman, MPH, as Senior Director of Quality Initiatives

(June 2024)

“When you’re in healthcare, data is what moves the needle. Having quantitative or qualitative patient experience data as someone on the ground in healthcare and being able to go to your leadership and say, ‘Look how we’re performing,’ or ‘Look what this patient said about this experience,’ that kind of information is leverage to do something.”

That’s how Molly Totman, MPH, explains what attracted her to MHQP. Molly recently joined MHQP as our new Senior Director of Quality Initiatives.

Molly’s interest in public health began when she interned with Nuestras Raíces, a grassroots urban agriculture organization in Holyoke, Massachusetts, while in the last year of her undergraduate work at UMass Amherst.

“That’s when I really started to learn about health disparities, inequities, social justice and grassroots movements,” Molly says.

This experience and a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer inspired her to return to UMass Amherst to pursue her Master’s of Public Health in the community health education track.

“I was starting to make connections around food equity and health outcomes, and then thinking about food justice as a public health solution,” she recalls.

These interests grew when, during her graduate school years, she became trained to facilitate  educational groups in which she supported diverse populations with chronic disease develop  self-management skills.

“It’s critical to understand how different cultures view health and health care,” she says.

After graduation, Molly was hired as a Project Coordinator at Caring Health Center a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Springfield, Massachusetts. She was there for eight years, rising to the position of Quality Director in 2018. In addition to the extensive training she received in quality improvement methods and other management and operational skills, the most formative experience for Molly during those years was experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic at a community health center.

“Those first two weeks were some of the craziest, most challenging, most amazing weeks of my life,” she reflects.

Molly was part of the reduced staff who remained on the ground at the health center while others worked off-site.

“We were working up to 14 hour days, testing and adjusting in real time, and collaborating in new ways to ensure patients were being served. It was like the most ultimate quality improvement rapid PDSA,” she says.

That experience inspired Molly to pursue her doctorate at Johns Hopkins.

“I had been hemming and hawing about it for a while,” she says, “but COVID-19 catapulted me to take the next step forward.”

Molly’s dissertation work, in turn, propelled her to pursue a new position as Quality Director of Community Care Cooperative (C3), a non-profit created to leverage the collective strengths FQHCs to improve the health and wellness of the people they serve. There, she worked with quality directors at health centers across the state, supporting their success in value-based care.

“I love data, quality improvement science and the applied implementation of evidence in real time,” she says.

Those interests and life experiences have now brought Molly to MHQP as our new Senior Director of Quality Initiatives.

“Having worked in direct healthcare settings with the most underserved, vulnerable populations gave me the opportunity to see the impact of patient experience on health and healthcare,” she says. “I feel like there is a unique space at MHQP to apply quality improvement and qualitative research and collaboration to actually improve patient experiences.”

We at MHQP feel fortunate to have Molly on our team and look forward to her many accomplishments on behalf of patients in the future.