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Work in Progress: A Clinical Immersion Program for Broad Curricular Impact

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Biomedical Division Postcard Session

Tagged Division

Biomedical Engineering

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Paper Authors


William H Guilford University of Virginia Orcid 16x16

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Will Guilford is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia. He is also the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education in the School of Engineering. He received his B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from St. Francis College in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and his Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Arizona. Will did his postdoctoral training in Molecular Biophysics at the University of Vermont. His research interests include novel assessments of educational efficacy, the molecular basis of cell movement, and the mitigation of infectious diseases.

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Meg Keeley M.D.


Brian P. Helmke University of Virginia

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Brian Helmke is currently Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia. He received the B.S.E. in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, the B.S.Econ. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego. Brian’s research interests include cardiovascular physiology, cellular mechanobiology, and nanotechnology-based biomaterials. He is also interested in technology-enhanced teaching and in experiential learning for undergraduates in science and engineering.

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Timothy E. Allen University of Virginia

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Dr. Timothy E. Allen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia. He received a B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering at Duke University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Allen's teaching activities include coordinating the core undergraduate teaching labs and the Capstone Design sequence in the BME department at the University of Virginia, and his research interests are in the fields of computational biology and bioinformatics. He is also interested in evaluating the pedagogical approaches optimal for teaching lab concepts and skills, computational modeling approaches, and professionalism within design classes. Dr. Allen also serves as PI and director for an NSF-funded Multi-Scale Systems Bioengineering REU site at U.Va.

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Problem identification remains a significant challenge in the education of biomedical engineers. Access to clinics and clinicians is limited, and therefore a host of clinical problems and the breadth of healthcare realities are inaccessible to the average student. A popular approach to overcoming this limitation comes in the form of clinical immersion experiences, which have been implemented in various ways and have targeted a variety of educational levels.

We built a summer immersion program with broad curricular impact for Biomedical Engineering (BME), supported by a “Team-Based Design in Biomedical Engineering Education” (R25) award from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. This immersion program matches undergraduate BME students with third year medical students. These “BME Clinical Scholars” act as observers during ten-weeks of the medical students’ summer clinical clerkships. Importantly, the Clinical Scholars join an established learning community of medical students who serve as their mentors. The Clinical Scholars gain a personal vantage on the problems encountered daily by clinicians, and have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a small number of clinical fields for weeks each. A holistic yet targeted admissions process helps to ensure the diversity of the Clinical Scholar cohorts.

Two sets of written deliverables are expected of every Clinical Scholar from each clinical clerkship in which they are immersed. The first deliverables are statements of clinical problems or unmet clinical needs, with appropriate user needs and constraints. These Clinical Needs Reports are intended for use in new and existing BME design-build courses, broadening the impact of the immersion experience to a much larger number of students. The second of the deliverables are instructional case studies targeted to BME core or elective courses. These case studies may be used by our degree program faculty for the instruction of the entire BME student body. The case studies will be vetted by program faculty, and will be made publicly available after one semester of in-class use and iterative redesign.

We here report on the inaugural year of our Clinical Scholars program, its impact on participants, and lessons learned on how to broaden its impact to non-participating students via our BME curriculum.

Guilford, W. H., & Keeley, M., & Helmke, B. P., & Allen, T. E. (2019, June), Work in Progress: A Clinical Immersion Program for Broad Curricular Impact Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33581

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