Design Thinking Transforms Medical Training

By Office of the President | Feb 20, 2024

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From left to right: Antonia Quinn, D.O., Jason Lazar, M.D., M.P.H., Riccardo Bianchi, Ph.D.

The College of Medicine (COM) is embarking on a fresh perspective with its Transition to Residency (TTR) course. Typically undertaken in the final year of medical school, the course prepares students for their forthcoming career transition. Traditionally, TTR courses have emphasized medical skills, yet they have often overlooked essential personal challenges students may encounter. These include navigating work-life balance, coping with emotional stress, and honing practical communication skills with both patients and colleagues.

Downstate's COM remains at the forefront of innovative medical education. Leading the way in this effort, Antonia Quinn, D.O., Associate Dean of Clinical Skills, Jason Lazar, M.D., M.P.H., Executive Vice Dean and Chair of Medical Education, and Riccardo Bianchi, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Foundations of Medicine, joined forces to apply Design Thinking in developing an enhanced course curriculum.

Design Thinking represents a user-centered framework aimed at addressing challenges through innovative solutions. It emphasizes creative problem-solving and thinking beyond conventional boundaries to actualize ideas effectively.

In crafting a new TTR course, the curriculum team applied a five-step Design Thinking (DT) approach comprising discovery, interpretation, ideation, experimentation, and evolution—steps instrumental in the needs assessment and course design. During the discovery phase, the team conducted interviews with interns, program directors, and graduating medical students to determine the genuine needs of new residents. This input facilitated the creation of a comprehensive two-week curriculum featuring hands-on workshops, small-group discussions, and simulations.

The newly designed course underwent testing in Spring 2021 with a pilot group of six students, later expanding to a larger cohort in 2022. Positive outcomes from this innovation study prompted further expansion of pilots and a full-scale launch of the TTR course for all graduating students in 2023. The upcoming 2024 course is scheduled for the last week in April and the first week in May.

Dr. Quinn and her team are currently devising a programmatic evaluation for the course, and they are confident that other institutions can adopt the DT approach to enhance their TTR programs. Congratulations are extended to Drs. Quinn, Lazar, and Bianchi for their groundbreaking work in spearheading this outstanding program.

Read the entire article, published in the journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Academic Medicine, January 29, 2024 (online ahead of print) here.