New technologies for improved surgical tools or systems that speed access to time-sensitive pathology reports may well come from undergraduates working side-by-side with physicians in teaching labs and operating rooms.
Such novel ideas spring from a program piloted last year – and expanded this fall – in which Rutgers biomedical engineering students gain real-world perspective by interacting with Robert Wood Johnson Medical School faculty and teaching-hospital physicians.
The students, all fourth-year undergraduates, observe how physicians work and digest their wish lists for tools that could improve their effectiveness, The students then apply that knowledge to their senior design projects, developing technologies that meet practical needs. The aim: to benefit medicine and health care, and most notably make surgery safer and more efficient.
“The students came up with ideas that truly impressed the physicians,” said Susan Engelhardt, the program’s manager. “These ideas resulted from the students viewing surgeries through an engineering lens. Sometimes it takes this integrated perspective to truly innovate.”
One project examined ways to reduce fat content in donor livers before they are transplanted. Another looked at an imaging technology that makes nerve cells more visible during surgery to reduce nerve damage. The third involved a device to promote rehabilitation in people who have suffered strokes or injuries.
Read the complete article at Rutgers Today.