DxD Continues to Transform Healthtech Industry with Multiple Exciting Initiatives

by | Apr 5, 2024 | Alliances, Diversity, Fogarty Innovation

While the climate around diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives has chilled in the last year, Diversity by Doing HealthTech (DxD) continues to advocate for diversity in the medtech innovation ecosystem as an imperative for achieving health equity – and as good business. The organization, founded by Fogarty Innovation and Stanford Biodesign, runs a full calendar of programs aimed at reaching current and future healthtech professionals across ages and levels of expertise. The following two programs, one for executives and one for community college students, are currently in progress.

“Building a Business of Purpose” seminar series expands the DEIB conversation

Now in its third year, DxD’s Building a Business of Purpose seminar series of six 90-minute interactive online sessions covering DEIB topics related to healthtech, got underway in March. The goal of the series is to empower healthtech leaders to fully understand and operationalize diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging as a way to provide value to their team, community, customers and bottom line. 

The first session included a candid discussion about the history of corporate DEI efforts, including their sharp rise in the summer of 2020 during the Black Lives Matter movement, and their recent decline following the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on affirmative action.

According to DxD executive director Ingrid Ellerbe, these conversations are more important than ever, given the current climate that has led to the suspension of some internal corporate DEIB efforts. “That leaves DxD as an increasingly critical resource to broaden views and approaches within the healthtech industry,” she said.

Upcoming sessions in April and May will cover topics such as workforce management, talent acquisition and supplier diversity. The final session on May 21 will feature Fogarty chief commercial strategy officer Marga Ortigas-Wedekind discussing the importance of community outreach and how to engage and advocate within the community, spotlighting the organization’s work with the Boys and Girls Clubs. 

“Successful companies realize it’s critical to cultivate diversity in the healthtech industry as it allows us to recognize the unique circumstances and meet the varied needs of our diverse population of patients,” said Ellerbe. “We’ve been inspired by the positive feedback we’ve received from past participants, who appreciated the variety of topics and impressive credentials of the speakers.”

This year, the series is also having past participants return as guest speakers to share how they have put the lessons they’ve learned to use in real-life scenarios. 

While space is limited, future sessions are now available for pre-registration. Click here to register.

“Pathways” offers a glimpse into the exciting world of healthtech

Now in its second year, another one of DxD’s signature initiatives, Pathways in Health Technology, is also currently underway. This eight-weekend program for community college students from underrepresented groups is designed to prepare them to explore industry career paths and pursue healthtech internships. Student receive a 360-degree introduction to the field through participatory sessions that include career panels, sessions on topics from developing an empowered mindset to the art of asking questions, and technology showcases and breakdowns where companies bring in their medtech devices and share how it was developed. 

They also collaborate with a healthtech company and work in groups on clinical projects. The interactions deepen their understanding of a disease and how to analyze the market and think about technology solutions —all while recognizing the need to keep the patient at the center of the process. This year, the Pathways program is also focusing on integrating health equity into every step of the development process. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to shadow physicians and health care professionals at El Camino Hospital. 

“This second year has been just as empowering as the first,” said Ellerbe. “The students have been completely engaged and just participated in a field trip to Intuitive Surgical to see its robot.”

This year’s participants represent Berkeley City College, College of Marin, College of San Mateo, De Anza College/Foothill College, Diablo Valley College, Los Medanos College, Las Positas College, Ohlone College, Shasta College and Skyline College.

The effects of the program were significant for the 2023 Pathways cohort, several of whom decided to pursue career opportunities in healthtech. Eight of the students obtained summer internships in the field, and one was so successful in her internship at Zuno that she will be working there full time at the end of this semester. They also have continued their professional development with eight attending the AdvaMed 2023 Medtech Conference and two attending MedtechVISION 2023, sponsored by Medtech Women.

In addition, a number of the interns are continuing their education, with one entering a master’s program to become a nurse practitioner and six others transferring to U.C. schools. As 2023 Pathways participant Kirsten Takeshima, now a Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology major at UCLA, shared, “By the time I left the Pathways in Health Technology program, I met a whole network of peers and mentors who had varying interests in business, engineering, medicine and science, and who all wanted to play some part in the medical technology field.” She added that her experience in the DxD program and growing interest in stroke therapies led to her current research in a neuroscience lab.

“There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing the past cohort become further engaged in the healthtech field,” Ellerbe said. “We are excited to see the classes of 2023 and 2024 make their mark.” 

Pathways culminates in a graduation ceremony on April 17. Thanks to the support of AdvaMed and Intuitive Foundation, students who complete the program receive a $1,000 stipend along with additional support. The Pathways program is also made possible by funding from  Edwards Lifesciences, Fogarty Innovation and Stanford Biodesign.

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