Innovation corner: From the ground up
Medical students create new track in curriculum around concepts of entrepreneurship
s the adage goes, if you want something done right, do it yourself.
That philosophy motivated third-year UF medical student Kyle Scott and classmates to create the curriculum they needed to become the next generation of physician-innovators.
The Business and Innovation in Medicine track, an elective within the UF Discovery Pathways Program, is the first track to have its curriculum created by medical students, and it aims to provide future physicians with the entrepreneurial skills they need to move medicine forward.
When Scott came to UF in 2018, armed with a degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia, he expected to apply his previous training toward tackling problems in medicine. He was surprised to find that though Gainesville is ripe with resources in innovation and entrepreneurship, there was no direct path for medical students to access these resources.
“While UF is a huge institution for innovation with Gatorade and the UF Innovate Hub, which produces numerous patents every year, there’s a disconnect,” Scott says. “As a medical student, there was no way to tap into that infrastructure without having a track like this in place. So, we decided to build it.”
Scott and his roommate, fellow medical student Den Trumbull, began laying the groundwork for building interdisciplinary bridges across campus with entities like the UF Warrington College of Business, the UF Innovate Hub, the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator and others.
Next, the team researched existing programs that combine business and entrepreneurship within the medical curriculum at 27 institutions across the country and surveyed students locally about topics they’d like to learn more about. After months of hard work that included meeting with faculty and drafting proposals, students entered the track for the fall 2019 semester.
“I love the fact that this was initiated and driven by students,” says Nik Gravenstein, MD ’80, the Jerome H. Modell, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology, who serves as a faculty mentor for the students enrolled in this track. “These students not only have energy, but they also have good ideas and they’re willing to push the envelope. These are all future change agents in whatever part of health care they land in.”
The first half of the track’s curriculum builds skills in intellectual property, patenting, regulatory processes, interdisciplinary teamwork and finance. Students are also introduced to other entities on campus and in Gainesville that could serve as potential partners as they pursue their project. Some of the projects students are currently working on include apps and medical devices for patients and health care providers.
Scott and his team envision that when medical students graduate from the Business and Innovation in Medicine track, they will possess not only clinical skills but also the business acumen necessary to create real change for the future of medicine.
“It benefits everyone to provide physicians with exposure to innovation and entrepreneurship,” Scott says. “Even if they don’t create the next Gatorade, they may have an experience they can use as the foundation for their future practice.”
For more information on the track or to get involved as a physician mentor, email UF-MedEdInnovationTrack@ahc.ufl.edu.