Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Focus Groups in ATL

The focus groups today went very smoothly. 

Well, at least my responsibility of getting people to the focus group facility.

One of the participants from the morning group shook my hand.  "So nice to meet you.  Thank you for all your emails.  You're so organized!"  Wow, it was nice to start the morning off with a compliment!

The purpose of the focus group was to get their feedback on a set of recommendations that CDC put out and how/if they were using the document at all.  The first session of people weren't really thrilled about the document because they would have liked to have the opportunity to review it before it was published, but they were not given that chance.  So they were already kinda disgruntled about it.  Other feedback that we got was that the document was similar to stuff that they read before, so it wasn't anything awe-inspiring.  They are also recommendations, so they aren't something that people have to follow.  The laboratories already have regulations they have to follow, so it makes sense that they'd pay attention to those first.  I was afraid that the day was going to be two sessions of people bashing the document, but the facilitator was able to steer the conversation in a way that we got some good information out of the participants.

My minor snag of the day was when I had to pick up the afternoon session's participants.  My boss drove me back to the hotel.  I noticed a group of people with suitcases.  I walked over and asked if they were waiting for transportation to the focus group.  Yep.  I counted 7 people, but I was expecting 8.  I asked the hotel if the remaining person had checked out.  She had, but was no where in sight!  I ended up putting everyone on the shuttle and stayed back to wait for this person.  I later found out that this lady found her own transportation to the focus group site.  UGH, why didn't you let me know?!  Grr...

At the end of the afternoon focus group, this same lady asked a CDC person, "Are you expecting?" And the woman replied, "No, I'm just fat."  Wow, that was sufficiently awkward.

The trip back to DC was the opposite of the trip getting there.  The focus group facility arranged for taxis to pick us up at the facility.  As I was corralling everyone into the taxis, one of the guys reached out to shake my hand.  "It was nice to meet you...thank you for taking care of everything."  It was like he was saying goodbye.  "Oh, you're welcome, but I'm leaving with you guys.  I gotta go home too!"  We got to the airport in record time and I was at the gate about an hour early.  I contemplated getting on an earlier flight, but that would have cost me $50.  Ick, no thanks.  I'll sit and wait.

I got home around 9:00 PM, which wasn't bad at all.  Mission accomplished. :)


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