Diverse Community College Students Explore “Pathways in Health Technology” With Innovative Program

by | Feb 28, 2023 | Alliances, Diversity

Stanford Biodesign, Fogarty Innovation and five local medical device companies have teamed up to introduce a new program offered through the Diversity by Doing (DxD) HealthTech initiative. Twenty-seven students selected from 10 Bay Area community colleges are participating in the immersive eight-week program that offers mentorship to students as it introduces them to potential careers and prepares them for success in the industry.

Expanding diversity in the medtech sector

“Many students might only associate medical careers with doctors and nurses, without realizing the multitude of different opportunities that are involved,” says Mike Regan, chief innovation officer of Fogarty Innovation and a co-founder of DxD. “The effort is really near and dear to my heart for the opportunities we can offer these talented, deserving students, who historically have not been as likely to join our industry. It’s exciting to play a role in introducing this next generation of innovators to such a rewarding career path.”

The inaugural cohort is comprised of 81% women, with 41% from groups that have been historically underrepresented in science and technology. 

“We are eager to capture the imaginations of students who may not even be aware of what the health technology industry entails,” explained Ingrid Ellerbe, executive director of DxD HealthTech. “We want to introduce them to the many ways they can contribute meaningfully to health equity and access using their unique skills and perspectives.”

The program is just one more way DxD is bringing to life its mission of increasing representation within the medtech field. Introducing diverse students to all the field has to offer can help create a pipeline of young entrepreneurs who can bring their own lived experiences, ultimately making medtech more equitable, accessible and trusted.

Students in the program come from Cañada College, City College of San Francisco, College of Marin, College of San Mateo, De Anza College, Foothill College, Las Positas College, Los Medanos College, Merced College and Skyline College.

An engaging curriculum inspires interest in the field

Pathways in Health Technology is the culmination of more than two years of discussion by DxD. “We’ve worked hard with these dedicated partners to design a really engaging program, taught by top-notch industry leaders and Stanford faculty, to introduce these students to the exciting opportunities in the health technology industry,” said Paul Yock, MD, founder of Stanford Biodesign and co-founder of DxD. “Our hope is to convince them it’s the right field for them to invest their talents so that we can all benefit from fresh new perspectives.” 

Participants are introduced to different career opportunities within health technology, supplemented by one-on-one mentorship opportunities. There will also be an engineering showcase from participating medtech companies. The program culminates with a hands-on project where students will work in small groups on a clinical project in partnership with a health tech company, then present their novel ideas. Companies participating in the program by providing mentors and instructors and facilitating group projects are Cala Health, Element Science, Imperative Care, Pulmonx and ReCor Medical.

Throughout the program, they are exposed to subject matter expertise from a wide range of professionals who share their career paths. They also get an inside look at companies at all levels – from CEOs who can talk about big-picture decision making to chief technology officers and engineers who demonstrate how they design, test and build products.

“We applaud the participating companies who are making an impressive time commitment, with several executives and team members from each one joining us over the course of the program,” Mike said. 

The program meets eight times between January 20 and April 15, including a final session that will include student presentations and a certificate ceremony. Students who complete the program will receive a $1,000 grant, funded by the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) in collaboration with MedTech Color.

DxD aims to make a difference

DxD was launched jointly by Fogarty Innovation and Stanford Biodesign in 2020 following a study published in Annals of Biomedical Engineering that revealed numerous workplace inequalities in the health technology industry that negatively affect women. Respondents reported that they didn’t feel like part of the team at work and their ability to rise was hampered by a lack of access to the networks of power and influence that open the doors to leadership positions. The survey also found that mentoring made a difference in terms of job satisfaction and an inclusive environment. DxD focused on gender initially, but now focuses on racial equity and other dimensions of diversity with the goal to bring more women and people of color into the health tech ecosystem, and amplify their voices.

DxD HealthTech is supported by Stanford Biodesign, Fogarty Innovation and its affiliate members including XII Medical, Enspectra Health, Hyperfine, Imperative Care and Longitude Capital.

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