The Business Engineering Surgical Technologies (BEST) Teaching Method: Incubating Talents for Surgical Innovation

Vivian De Ruijter, Peter Halvax, MD, Bernard Dallemagne, MD, Lee Swanstrom, MD, Jacques Marescaux, MD, Silvana Perretta, MD. IRCAD-IHU, University of Strasbourg, France.

INTRODUCTION: Technological innovation in surgical science and healthcare is vital and calls for close collaboration between engineering and surgery. Platforms that facilitate effective and directed communication between professionals from both worlds would serve this purpose. To satisfy such an educational need facing the current economic crisis is particularly challenging. This study explores an innovative teaching method free of charge combining surgery, engineering and business in a multidisciplinary, high-quality, low-cost and learning-by-doing philosophy.

METHODS and PROCEDURES: From November 2011 to September 2013, the BEST educational method was delivered in two parts supported by a 40K/year government grant: the first component consisted of 68 online lectures and corresponding evaluations by world-renowned faculty, streamed live or pre-recorded, with an interdisciplinary profile focused on surgery, engineering, and business. The second component was a yearly 5-day onsite course, organized at the IRCAD Institute in Strasbourg, France. The on-site program included workshops in engineering, interventional (MRI-CT-Zeego-US) radiology, entrepreneurship team projects, and in-depth hands-on training in laparoscopy, robotic surgery and flexible endoscopy delivered on ex-vivo and in-vivo models, and laparoscopic and flexible endoscopy simulators. A 1-to-5 Likert scale satisfaction survey was administered to all students. A panel of experts: surgeons, engineers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and scientists assessed the team projects ‘value in terms of innovation and market potential.

RESULTS: 803 individual and institutional users from 50 different countries attended the online course (mean age 27.1; SD 13.2) and participated to a total of 8142 lectures. 134 young professionals (69% medical, 31% engineering and/or business background) from 32 different countries applied to participate to the onsite course. Thirty participants were selected each year for the onsite course (15 medical, 15 engineering and/or business students) based on the online course evaluation, curriculum vitae and a letter of intent. A satisfaction rate of 4.52 (SD 0.13) in 2012 and 4.87 (SD 0.06) in 2013 was awarded to the onsite course by the participants. Twelve provisional patents were filed.

CONCLUSION: BEST proved to be a global talent incubator connecting students and high quality education despite institutional and economical boundaries. Viable and innovative ideas arose from this revolutionary approach which is likely to spin off significant technology transfer and lead the way for future interdisciplinary hybrid surgical education programs and career paths.
 

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