My Experience Joining a Design Team in Healthcare

Victor Kernes
Jul 9, 2018 · 5 min read
Image for post
Image for post

At Virta, our mission is to reverse type 2 diabetes in 100 million people by the year 2025.

Transitioning from a single designer into a member of a team of 10+ designers can be a difficult process. It can involve adjusting to a new work environment, introducing yourself to the entire team, understanding different processes in place, and much more. But that was hardly the case here at Virta Health.

From my first day, everything seemed like there was a plan in place, leaving barely any downtime before starting on my first project. I was able to launch a landing page within the first week, which helped me feel like I was in the right place.

Looking back at the past three months, I’m very surprised by how fast I felt integrated within the design team. My opinions and thoughts were immediately valued and everyone was available for any questions I had (there were a lot!). Four weeks in, I was already included in the interview process for other design roles that we were hiring for at the time. The team had already placed their trust in me, and that felt great.

Designing on your own compared to designing within a team has been a night and day experience. Having the opportunity to work with people who have way more experience than myself has been very rewarding and motivating. I’ve had a steep learning curve over these past few months and I know there’s still much to learn from this group of talented individuals.

Building Design Culture on a Growing Team

Working for a company that truly cares about design is empowering. The design culture overall starts from the top and we have an excellent leader, David Hatch, who provides everyone the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and move forward with their design career.

Your title doesn’t necessarily mean you only work on that one thing. We constantly switch between projects providing a variety of things to work on. Even though we are part of the design team, we end up working on other teams as well. I primarily work on Growth. Others work on our Clinical tool (Spark), Patient app (iOS), and website (virtahealth.com).

While we do have the option to code, we don’t necessarily have to take on that responsibility. We have designers on the team whose job is to handle all things related to visuals, branding, and typography, and we have UX engineers on the design team as well. For those who are interested in coding but aren’t UX engineers, there are opportunities to explore that on the design team. Personally, this opportunity has enabled me to learn React, jQuery, and understand how file versioning works with Git.

One tool everyone on the team uses is Figma, which allows us to share our designs with anyone in the company who wants to take a quick look. This tool is also helpful in gathering feedback quickly and allow us to continue moving fast towards project completion.

Although we primarily use Figma, we are highly encouraged to use the tool that helps get the job done quickly. I have used Photoshop, Illustrator, and Sketch for a variety of projects since my time starting here.

More About the Team

I mentioned earlier that I primarily work on the Growth team here at Virta Health. While I mainly focus on Growth projects, I’m happy to still be considered part of the design team. On the team we have a very diverse group of individuals, ranging from those who have a 80/20 relationship between design and engineering as well as the other way around.

1) How big is the team?

Right now we have 11 Designers (including Contractors). It’s fun to see the surprised looks when sharing this knowledge outside of the organization. To me it clearly reinforces that as a company we truly care about design and value having a team with a diverse set of skills.

2) Do designers have to know how to code?

We have a range of designers who code to those who primarily focus on the visuals. Typography, color, and overall brand consistency is very important to us. Writing clean, efficient, and working code is equally important. There are a few members on the team, called UX Engineers, who primarily focus on coding. They typically ship front-end features built with Javascript/React and occasionally delve into back-end work with Python. They have been really helpful for those interested in coding and will take time to help you.

3) What type of projects do you work on?

Here at Virta we are able to work on a variety of projects. We have project requests coming from almost every department within the company ranging from marketing, research, clinical staff, as well as our own department. In my first three months I’ve had projects ranging from landing pages to shipping actual code within our patient app.

Challenges

One of the big adjustments after joining a large team has been knowing when is the right time to voice your opinion. For a while, I felt that I didn’t have enough experience or overall awareness of Virta’s big picture to express my thoughts. Some have said that this is the imposter syndrome most people feel when starting out a new career. That is more than likely what I went through and still sometimes continue to go through.

One of the more recent changes we have made to help solve this problem has been adding a shorter version of our weekly meeting to specifically discuss any challenges we’re facing, whether it’s about additional critique needed on projects or just to talk about design in general. This has been helpful and valuable, especially as we continue to grow as a team and company.

If we ever have anything that needs immediate attention, we are always able to reach out to our Head of UX, David Hatch, or walk over to anyone in the design team and ask questions in person.

Image for post
Image for post

It’s extremely rewarding to work for a company that uses a treatment that is like no other and has generated real results.

If you’re looking to make a difference in people’s lives, check out our careers page.

Virta Health

Virta is the first clinically-proven treatment to safely…

Victor Kernes

Written by

UX Designer @virtahealth http://victorkernes.com

Virta Health

Virta is the first clinically-proven treatment to safely and sustainably reverse type 2 diabetes, and these are our experiences on the road to reversing type 2 diabetes in 100M people by 2025.

Victor Kernes

Written by

UX Designer @virtahealth http://victorkernes.com

Virta Health

Virta is the first clinically-proven treatment to safely and sustainably reverse type 2 diabetes, and these are our experiences on the road to reversing type 2 diabetes in 100M people by 2025.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store