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Design Thinking Enables Med Students to Solve Challenges

Last Updated: October 23, 2017.

A joint effort between students at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design is training future physicians in design thinking to help identify and repair health system issues that contribute to physician burnout, according to an article by the American Medical Association.

MONDAY, Oct. 23, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A joint effort between students at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is training future physicians in design thinking to help identify and repair health system issues that contribute to physician burnout, according to an article by the American Medical Association.

"Design+Health" began in fall 2013 and focuses on solutions to health system challenges. By pairing medical students at Brown with design students at RISD, the program encourages critical thinking, creativity, and innovative solutions for the promotion of individual and community health. Students choose one of four project tracks: emergency medicine, surgery, the neonatal intensive care unit, or primary care).

After determining a health care problem from the perspective of a physician or other "users" in the health care system, students brainstorm innovative, potential solutions. This process uses the same skills students are learning in medical school, including a thorough interview and examination with the patient, empathizing with the patient's situation, and understanding the problems they are solving before beginning any treatment. Students then prototype their ideas, refine them based on user feedback, and start a process of testing and refining.

"Design thinking adds another layer to the physician's mind-set that problems, even systems issues, can be addressed if we're bold enough to understand the causes of these failures and attempt solutions to them," third-year medical student Yao Liu said in the article.

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