Medical Future

 As a Career Tech Ed Medical Program teacher I am always watching changes in medical trends and emerging technologies being used. Unfortunately education in general is slow to adapt to the changing workforce needs but in CTE courses we have a unique opportunity to engage in this discussion as our job is to prepare them for jobs of the future. Often community partners approach programs and ask us about what we are doing to address new areas, so we have more support as we push for updated standards and approach our administrators about project ideas.

In Clark County School District in Las Vegas Nevada we have 49 high schools, all of which have CTE pathway’s available. This district is the fifth largest in the country and living in such a large town does provide for some opportunities that do not exist anywhere else.

CTE teachers and a select group of students have been able to attend the Consumer Electronic Show for the last several years. As part of a partnership with our District CTE Department, Everfi, and CES students who compete in a project pitch competition placing top three have been given the opportunity to pitch to an industry panel of judges on the main stage at the CES show. This is CTE engagement at its finest, and I have watched the past three years with pride as some of my colleagues and students share their ideas with enthusiasum. It is an amazing opportunity and so fun to watch. I have helped manage the HOSA Medical Innovation Event the past few years for Nevad HOSA as this idea of innovative problem solving is a passion of mine. The competitions are similar with students presenting ideas, prototype and business plan.

After the competition the CTE teachers are able to enjoy the show, walking around to see different products and prototypes. There is no possible way to see the entire show in a few hours, this is a week long event, so as a medical teacher there are particular areas of interest for me. Augmented and virtual reality, 3D printing, 360 photography, drones, and the med tech and health tech areas are on my list and I have to be strategic about getting to these spaces. These areas are split between the convention center and various hotels that you may need to get on a bus to get to. As with any trade show there is a lot of information but I try to pinpoint things I can either use in my class or things that help me become more knowledgable about future medical innovations. After one CES show I went ahead and purchased the Backyard Brains Human to Human Interface neuroscience kit. I had seen a Ted Talk by the creator, and shown a pottion to a class, but getting to meet him and talk about uses in my class made me go ahead and budget for it. I had received grant funds for the Verizon Innovation Design Thinking Grant one year, and spent a significant amount of time in the 360 camera section as that was the emerging technology focus that year and I wanted to make sure I knew all the options. Even though I had watched reviews and tutorials online, getting to talk to someone experienced with the technology is so helpful. 

Seeing what products are being used in industry and what products are coming gives me a huge advantage as I talk to my students. This January 2020 I saw mobile equipment that would allow you to do many medical exam tests uploading all information to a portable device quickly. I was finally able to try the Magic Leap, a virtual/augmented reality tool that surgeons are using now to guide, plan and collaborate for surgery. I got stuck talking at a mobile MRI machine booth, still in development, as they had several prototypes out to demo. The small portable machine with iPad app could help significantly if added to a sports medicine team or paramedics medical tool bags and have the potential to improve patient outcomes from traumatic brain injuries. 

At the end of January I was able to spend two days with The National Health Science Consortium State Leaders as they were having a meeting in Las Vegas. I was invited to co-present with Lego Education’s Paullete Donelion,  to share some of the ways we could use lego STEM activities to build confidence in learners. I was able to share examples from my Health Science classroom to a room full of CTE State Program Leaders, Administrators, and Company partner leads. This is not my typical audience as I usually run professional development for teachers, but we aprached it the same way and knew it was important to get lego’s into their hands.

I lead a design thinking activity similar to one I had done in my classroom. We provided each person with a small lego kit and I prompted them to build something that represented the future of medicine. I shared with them some things I had seen at CES, and reminded them of  the connection to the HOSA event for Medical Innovation. We gave them a limited time and the room became quiet, and busy. As we called for them to finish, by holding their hands up, off the legos, I heard the expected responses; “I needed a little more time”, I wish I just had a few morre lego’s to make it work”. We started to share our lego builds and I was amazed, because although they were not all astheticley pleasing or true to to size prototypes the ideas were beautiful. Drones to carry medication or deliver medical supplies, scanners for vital signs, app enabled devices were described, 3D printed equipment and equipment to improveme  blood draws. We improved patient experience, made equipment more mobile and telehealth a reality in the matter of that 10 minute brainstorming and lego prototype session. Everyone provided appreciation for the experience and recognized there would be impact for the learner.

In the 2018 World Econimic Forum Future of Jobs Report the top three skills trending for 2022 listed as ; 

  1. Analytical Thinking and Innovation
  2. Active Learning and Learning Strategies
  3. Creativity, originality, and initiative.

All the participants in this activity went through those in our short lesson, recognizing that the barrier to this STEM activity was lower and perceived as low stress because after all they were just playing with Lego bricks. Everyone was smiling and having fun, taking pictures of their prototypes in essence celebrating what they had learned. As an educator in the classroom this type of activity is critical to getting them ready for future medical careers, imagining what is possible so that they can improve on current systems. 

At the time of that meeting we didn’t know that we would soon see our whole country shut down due to Covid 19 but when it did I reflected on this activity as the whole country became consumed with the health crisis and problem solving. We watched immediate needs be met quickly with 3D printed devices, robots and drones used to take things to sick patients and increased telehealth and I couldn’t help but think about innovations we had thought of that day and the importance of our Health Career Students completing these types of critical thinking exercises more regularly to prepare them for the problems that we have not thought of yet and the solutions they will create when they are called to. They are our future and we need them ready.