FORT WORTH– A classroom filled with medical students drawing on poster boards might have given an observer the impression that the students were participating in an art class.
However, this burst of colorful creativity by the students was part of a process to tackle serious health-care issues. The students spent a week learning the principles of design thinking to focus on patient and provider needs, and to prioritize empathy.
“This allows them to use a different way of thinking,” said Stacy Grau, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Anne Burnett Marion School of Medicine at Texas Christian University. “It’s a nice opportunity to explore your creative side.”
A forward-thinking curriculum called Future Accelerators of Medicine and Beyond (F.A.B.) created by Stuart D. Flynn, M.D., the Founding Dean of Burnett School of Medicine TCU, exposes medical students to emerging concepts that could benefit them throughout their medical careers.
Throughout the design thinking week, first-year medical students learned how to use ideation, prototyping and testing to solve health care issues for pregnant women and older adult populations. Specifically, the students were asked to find solutions to health, wellness, and activity levels for those two patient populations.
“This year we really stressed the technology piece,” Grau said. “How can we use artificial intelligence? How can we use wearables? How can we use other aspects of digital technology?”
The students were separated into 10 groups and met with Fort Worth-area community members to learn about their most pressing issues. Each group then presented a concept poster that introduced a prototype and their ideas for a solution.
“It’s a low fidelity prototype and a simple way for them to show what their idea is,” Grau said. “They also get an idea of what success can look like and also ways that it could fail.”