A new faculty-student research collaboration suggests that the Carle Illinois College of Medicine’s strategic use of practical challenges in neuroscience effectively stimulates innovation and entrepreneurial skills in medical students. The findings are specific to Carle Illinois’ engineering-infused program, the first of its kind, but may provide evidence for other new engineering-based medical schools on how to effectively train innovators in medicine.
The new study focuses on students’ perceptions of how their key innovation skills improved after participating in CI MED’s Neuroscience Engineering Challenge Lab, the final phase of the eight-week clinical neuroscience course. “The Neuroscience Challenge Laboratory is an example of how Carle Illinois is integrating engineering into the medical curriculum to enable students to learn about design thinking and how to apply these principles in medicine,” said Kanesha Overton, medical student from fourth year and one of the authors of the study. Carle Illinois uses active learning methods to develop students’ skills in innovation, entrepreneurship, and design.
The Neuroscience Engineering Challenge Lab was developed, designed and led by CI MED Professor Elizabeth Hsiao-Wecksler and Associate Teaching Professor and Director of Student Research Olivia Coiado. Student teams should apply what they have learned about design thinking, the design process, decision-making tools, and user-centered design to explore the development of an innovative device or intervention targeting the resolution of a specific problem within neuroscience. Student innovations must target a specific goal (diagnosis, symptom treatment, neurological improvement, and disease treatment) as well as address a neurological disease process (autism, pain/headache, brain tumors, developmental disabilities, nerve disease peripheral, autoimmune diseases, autonomic diseases). diseases and ADHD). The proposed solution must also use an emerging technology that would be on the market within three to five years. At the end of the challenge, the teams deliver an oral presentation in the form of a business plan pitch.