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National Cancer Institute

Promoting innovation: Enhancing transdisciplinary opportunities for medical and engineering students

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Brazile T, Shoop G, McDonough C, Van Citters D. Promoting innovation: Enhancing transdisciplinary opportunities for medical and engineering students. Medical Teacher. 2018.

Purpose: Addressing current healthcare challenges requires innovation and collaboration. Current literature provides limited guidance in promoting these skills in medical school. One approach involves transdisciplinary training in which students from different disciplines work together toward a shared goal. We assessed the need for such a curriculum at Dartmouth College. Methods: We surveyed medical and engineering students’ educational values; learning experiences; professional goals; and interest in transdisciplinary education and innovation. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results: Shared values among student groups included leadership development, innovation, collaboration, and resource sharing. Medical students felt their curriculum inadequately addressed creativity and innovation relative to their engineering counterparts (p < 0.05). Medical students felt less prepared for entrepreneurial activities (p < 0.05), while engineering students indicated a need for basic medical knowledge and patient-oriented design factors. Despite strong interest, collaboration was less than 50% of indicated interest. Conclusions: Medical and engineering students share an interest in the innovation process and need a shared curriculum to facilitate collaboration. A transdisciplinary course that familiarizes students with this process has the potential to promote physicians and engineers as leaders and innovators who can effectively work across industry lines. A transdisciplinary course was piloted in Spring 2017.

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Type of Publication:

Journal article


innovation, medical school, engineer, transdisciplinary, collaboration

Addresses these goal(s):

  • Learn about the field of team science: history, theory and concepts
  • Establish or maintain effective team science endeavors
  • Enhance team performance, interactions, and attitudes
  • Provide institutional support for team science
  • Provide training for team science to team members or students
  • Conduct research on/evaluate team science
  • Engage community partners in your scientific team

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Resource created by Katie Dolan on 5/31/2018 11:00:09 AM.

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