Preparing clinical biomedical engineering students
There are many points of potential contact between biomedical engineering, the practice of medicine, and research that drives improvements in medicine. In a recent report on behalf of the Council of Chairs of Biomedical Engineering (George et al., 2017; Ann Biomed Engr) there were four areas of interest identified between departments of biomedical engineering and medical schools, the fourth, “Events or Activities to Stimulate Interaction,” being highly relevant to CSU.
There are several ways in which the School of Biomedical Engineering (SBME) at CSU is actively engaged with clinical education and research. To start with, we are intimately linked with CSU’s veterinary school, which is ranked No. 3 in the country according to U.S. News and World Report, which is rich in clinical exposure and experience. SBME faculty can be found in three of the four departments in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS), including Clinical Sciences. Nowhere is this more evident than in the new Wayne McIlwraith Translational Medicine Institute (TMI), expected to open in December, which will draw on established areas of CSU research expertise in orthopaedics, biomedical engineering, immunology, infectious disease, surgical advances, and other medical fields. The newly named Director of the TMI is Dr. David Frisbie, a professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences in CVMBS, and a core faculty member in SBME. Additionally, CSU is surrounded by three medical facilities that engage with us on a regular basis: Medical Center of the Rockies, Poudre Valley Hospital, which are both part of the University of Colorado Health System, and Orthopedic Center of the Rockies.
Dr. Julie Dunn, head of the SBME Industry Advisory Board and Medical Director of Trauma Research at Medical Center of the Rockies, teamed with SBME director of Senior Design Ellen Brennan-Pierce to obtain an NIH Training grant (2018-22) to establish a Clinical Immersion Program. This program provides students with an opportunity to visit the UC Health Clinical Education and Innovation Center and participate in clinical simulations for high-level emergency situations and to participate in discussions with clinical providers to address perceived gaps, potential future directions of medical devices, and unmet needs.
Undergraduate student advisor Deb Misuraca also teamed with Ellen Brennan-Pierce to spearhead a CSU field project for prosthetic innovation in Ecuador that combined experiential learning with an opportunity to study abroad for one week. Working closely with the Range of Motion Project (ROMP), students gained experience with patients, from arrival and fitting, through casting and molding, and physical therapy and mobility.
Backed with two degrees (B.S. in BME and B.S. in one of three traditional engineering areas), our students understand the biocompatibility of what they are designing, giving them a leg up in solving medical problems. Between the additional training and clinical programs and resources, our biomedical engineering students are prepared for a multitude of career opportunities after graduation.
I invite you to share your thoughts or ideas on how we can further expand and strengthen our clinical opportunities for students. Start a conversation by emailing me at Stuart.Tobet@colostate.edu.
Stuart Tobet, Director