Inspiring Innovation One High School Student at a Time

As the health care sector continues to face new challenges every day like rapidly rising costs and an increasing prevalence of chronic disease, the need for innovation is becoming exceedingly apparent. Now more than ever, we need people to disrupt the status quo and develop revolutionary innovations aimed at solving some of our most unsolvable problems. 

Mount Sinai is at the forefront of this boom in health care innovation, producing original research and creating new technologies with the potential to benefit millions of patients and physicians. Students are especially encouraged to employ their creativity through annual programming like SINAInnovations and the Mount Sinai Health Hackathon.

As a medical student, I feel extremely fortunate to be studying and working in such a forward-thinking environment. I am surrounded by individuals who inspire me to think beyond myself and tackle problems in creative ways. As I reflected on how lucky I was to be in an environment like this, I quickly realized that there was a gap that needed to be filled: a lack of outreach programs teaching health care innovation to younger students. Innovation is not commonly taught in high schools across the country and existing programs targeting this demographic often charge thousands of dollars. Even for me, my first taste of innovation came only in my senior year of college while working on my engineering design project.

Armed with this troubling realization, I gathered together a group of medical students over the summer to plan a new initiative at Mount Sinai. We wanted to create programming that exposed high school students from the New York City area to the exciting worlds of health innovation and entrepreneurship. After drafting a preliminary curriculum, we formed partnerships with the Center for Multicultual & Community Affairs (CMCA) and the Center for Excellence in Youth Education (CEYE) and the program took off!

SHIP students following a presentation at Cooper Hewitt in NYC.

Sinai Health Innovation Program, or SHIP for short, was an immersive, one-week summer camp that took place on July 31 to August 5. During the one-week camp, 20 high school students worked in teams to research healthcare problems, design solutions, and develop working prototypes. To supplement their work, students heard talks from physician and student innovators and visited healthcare startups like CatheCare, the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, and Sinai’s own Maker Space. The camp culminated in a Pitch Day on August 5, where students presented their designs to a panel of judges and received constructive feedback. The winning pitch was HospiHealth, an app that aimed to empower patients by providing information about specialist availability and reduce emergency room wait time by allowing patients to input information in advance.

Pitch Day demonstrated just how much these students had learned in one week!  By arming them with a richer understanding of healthcare design thinking and innovation through hands-on programming, we are hopeful that these students will continue to think creatively and produce tangible solutions. We are also incredibly grateful for the support we received from CMCA, CEYE, and the Mount Sinai faculty and students. We aim to continue this program next summer and continue inspiring students to tackle challenging problems with confidence!

SHIP students after Pitch Day hosted at the Icahn School of Medicine.

Here’s what some of the high school students had to say about SHIP:

“I feel more prepared to tackle future healthcare obstacles with the problem-solving and entrepreneurial skills I refined in this program. I would absolutely recommend this program to a friend.”

“I really liked the camp because it introduced many essential components of designing a healthcare product…I hope that this program still exists to continue the education of healthcare to more students.”

“It was a unique program that offered and taught various things that cannot be found in a lot of other programs for high school students. In just one week, I learned numerous things, both about entrepreneurship and healthcare, through interesting and fun methods such as lectures, field trips, etc. with new people that I truly enjoyed meeting and working with.”

“Not only did SHIP expose me to numerous new careers that I haven’t heard of but it enhanced my socializing skills as well. Also I feel that more people should learn about the importance of entrepreneurship in the health care system to have a better insight of how products we use today became available in the first place.”

To learn more about SHIP, please visit our Facebook page.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aishwarya Raja is a first-year medical student with an interest in women’s health, teaching, and entrepreneurship. She co-leads AMWA and the Medical Spanish program, and volunteers as a MedDocs tutor. She is also the co-founder of CatheCare, a medical device startup.

 

 

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