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New vaccine technologies. Designer face masks and antiviral apparel. Contact tracing software to alert people to quarantine themselves. Innovators from every sector are designing new tools to curb a global pandemic. As students return for fall semester, healthcare educators have a unique opportunity to link their lectures to a topic foremost in students’ minds.
"The relevance is everywhere," says Dr. Armine Lulejian, senior director of Educational Initiatives at the MESH Academy at Keck School of Medicine of USC. “To me, health is an easy concept to teach because everyone understands it, but it's also an exciting topic to teach because of everything that’s going on right now.”
Launched last spring, the Health Innovation minor is a partnership between USC Iovine and Young Academy and Keck School of Medicine's MESH Academy. “Both [are] in a unique position to take a lead in the design and implementation of a curriculum that's dealing with health innovation,” says Lulejian.
As students progress through the minor program, they gain a foundation in the Academy’s signature human-centered design strategy, as well as an introduction to industry-specific concerns such as healthcare technology, informatics, and public policy. Students learn to navigate the complex interplay between technology, policy, and institutions to develop new approaches and tools for human health and disease.
As COVID-19 puts untold strain on our healthcare system, this once-in-a-lifetime global test will undoubtedly spur more innovation and give students a real-world learning opportunity to transform an indispensable industry.
“We are creating something with an impact on human lives,” says Lulejian. That message clearly appeals to USC students, as undergrads across the university responded positively to the program’s launch this past spring.
"Right now this field is booming, and I don't think it's going to stop,” says Lulejian. “If you want to go into any kind of health-related field,” she says. “You should probably take our minor.”