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Linking Engineering and Medicine: Fostering Collaboration Skills in Interdisciplinary Teams

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1 Author(s)
Michael C. K. Khoo ; Biomedical Engineering Department, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Biomedical engineering embodies the spirit of combining disciplines. The engineer's pragmatic approach to-and appetite for-solving problems is matched by a bounty of technical challenges generated in medical domains. From nanoscale diagnostics to the redesign of systems of health-care delivery, engineers have been connecting advances in basic and applied science with applications that have helped to improve medical care and outcomes. Increasingly, however, integrating these areas of knowledge and application is less individualistic and more of a team sport. Success increasingly relies on a direct focus on practicing and developing collaboration skills in interdisciplinary teams. Such an approach does not fit easily into individual-focused, discipline-based programs. Biomedical engineering has done its fair share of silo busting, but new approaches are needed to inspire interdisciplinary teams to form around challenges in particular areas. Health care offers a wide variety of complex challenges across an array of delivery settings that can call for new interdisciplinary approaches. This was recognized by the deans of the University of Southern California's (USC's) Medical and Engineering Schools when they began the planning process, leading to the creation of the Health, Technology, and Engineering (HTE@USC or HTE for short) program. “Health care and technology are changing rapidly, and future physicians and engineers need intellectual tools to stay ahead of this change,” says Carmen A. Puliafito, dean of the Keck School of Medicine. His goal is to train national leaders in the quest for devices and processes to improve health care.

Published in:

IEEE Pulse  (Volume:3 ,  Issue: 4 )