Current Trends in Teaching Design-Thinking in Medical Schools, and Outcomes from the UT Southwestern Biomedical Innovations Program
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BACKGROUND: With the proliferation of new medical technologies and the emergence of career clinician innovations, many major American medical centers have recognized the need to foster innovative thinking amongst their students. To this end, several medical schools have integrated design-thinking and innovation initiatives into their curriculum. UT Southwestern's Biomedical Innovations (BI) program is one such initiative. OBJECTIVE: This thesis project seeks to explore the current landscape of teaching biomedical technology innovation in medical schools, as well as the efforts, outcomes, and next steps of UT Southwestern's own Biomedical Innovations program. METHODS: The Biomedical Innovations program encompasses a pre-clerkship enrichment elective, a Scholarly Activity in Biomedical Innovations, and an optional Distinction in Biomedical Innovations. Program success is measured by student participation, faculty participation, and post-course surveys. Additionally, recent UT Southwestern graduates who previously completed an innovation course were surveyed to assess their comfort with the core competencies of design-thinking. RESULTS: Since 2011, over 140 students have completed a pre-clinical innovation enrichment elective; after finishing the course, 39 of those students chose to remain involved as student facilitators. Post-course survey data shows that the majority of students either strongly agree or agree that they have a better understanding of biomedical innovation after finishing the course. This data also identifies course organization as an area for improvement. Recent alumni survey data indicates comfort with the core principles of biomedical innovation amongst former students in clinical practice. Survey responses from former student facilitators show that working as a facilitator helped develop key leadership skills. CONCLUSION: UT Southwestern's Biomedical Innovations program is in alignment with current trends in teaching design-thinking in medical schools. The consistent interest shown by the student body, the positive post-course survey results, and the influence the course has had on recent alumni demonstrate the success of the BI program. As faculty support and institutional memory continue to grow, the Biomedical Innovations program can prepare students to address the problems facing modern medicine with new and innovative technologies.
Diffusion of Innovation