Asee peer logo

Developing an Interdisciplinary Healthcare Improvement Workforce

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Systems Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.492.1 - 26.492.16



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


James Benneyan Northeastern University

visit author page

Dr. James Benneyan is former senior systems engineer at Harvard Community Health Plan and founding director of the Healthcare Systems Engineering Institute at Northeastern University, including three NSF and CMS funded centers and five undergraduate through post-doctoral degree, internship, and fellowship programs. Benneyan is faculty and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, holds joint appointments in Northeastern's engineering and health sciences colleges, and is past President of the Society for Health Systems. He serves on numerous editorial and advisory boards, has received 12 research, teaching, and service awards, and has been principal investigator or co-director in seven research centers totaling over $32 million in funding.

visit author page


Corey Balint Healthcare Systems Engineering Institute at Northeastern University

visit author page

Corey Balint holds both a BS and MS in Industrial Engineering from Northeastern University and currently is a staff healthcare system engineer in the HSyE institute. Current responsibilities include: serving as day-to-day project manager of our AHRQ patient safety center, leading a portfolio of roughly 10 projects at any time, and assisting with senior team projects. Balint has expertise in quality, medical staff services, change management, Lean, Six Sigma, and other performance improvement methodologies and has extensive experience working with numerous healthcare organizations and culture.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Developing an Interdisciplinary Healthcare Improvement WorkforceAs recommended by a recent PCAST report to President Obama (President’s Council ofAdvisors on Science and Technology, June 2014), aggressive mechanisms should be developedto rapidly increase the visibility, application, and workforce of systems engineering inhealthcare. As healthcare in the United States is in dire need of change and improvements, manystudents have been responding to the call for help. As these systems move to modernizedsystems engineering methods that are being used manufacturing and agriculture, programs mustbe created and students be trained according to these new protocols with a healthcare mindset.This paper describes an experience building program to expose promising students to theapplication of industrial and systems engineering to important healthcare problems, all whileproving that such a program can be scaled and spread to other areas of the country.There are numerous methods within the center for students to become involved. These methodsinclude: summer internships, co-ops, research, independent studies, and capstone projects. Thesummer internship program includes spring preparation, a summer cohort experience working onseveral applied and research problems, and fall reflection and dissemination activities. The co-opprogram includes full six month immersion into an academic center focused on application ofresearched problems. Independent studies and research vary greatly depending upon the interestof the student, but they all fall within healthcare improvement. Capstone/Senior Design projectsare intended to reflect what students have learned through coursework and any other experientialeducation, by giving them an open ended problem and allowing them to solve it.The key piece of new design to the center is that students work in teams with faculty, medical,and post-doc mentors on problems in several dozen Boston-area and national health systems.Many of these projects involve graduate students who provide additional mentorship andlearning opportunities for the student. These teams work hand-in-hand across the 6 to 9 monthproject lifecycles where both student and mentors are in a constant state of absorbing newknowledge due to their diverse backgrounds. During this period, students leave to go back totheir universities as term of their job may have ended, but many stay engaged on their projectsremotely. Using new technology that is now widely available and accessible, students meet withtheir groups by phone/web-sessions on a weekly basis to share findings on their work.Over the past two years, participants included 109 talented industrial engineering, human factors,MPH, bioengineering, statistics, and medical students from 14 states and 4 countries, mostworking in healthcare for their first time. Evaluations of the program by student and healthsystem participants have been very positive, including experience working with health systems,learning about how IE applies to health care, academic advising and career support, andopportunities to build technical, communication, and teamwork skills. All participantssummarize their experiences, what they gained from the program, and how it has affected theircareer and academic directions.

Benneyan, J., & Balint, C. (2015, June), Developing an Interdisciplinary Healthcare Improvement Workforce Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23831

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015