Semana i: Challenging medical students to apply lateral thinking

Silvia Olivares solivares@itesm.mx
Jorge Valdez jorge.valdez@itesm.mx
Mildred López mildredlopez@itesm.mx

Abstract

Clinical judgment is no longer enough to face health care problems in Mexico. Medical education must develop creative skills on students to keep up with epidemiologic transitions through innovation. The Research and Technology Innovation Park (PIIT) is a science and technology park considered a benchmark on innovation in Mexico.
The Semana i program was designed to challenge medical students to find solutions to epidemiologic problems by applying knowledge from non-medical backgrounds with experts from PIIT. This instructional model was based on lateral and creative thinking. The students prepared health care solutions for a poster presentation working a community learning group conformed by classmates, faculty members, experts and staff.
The triple helix model (government, academia and private sector) at PIIT was transformed into a learning scenario. A total 85 projects were developed within 13 centers and assessed in a poster presentation by experts considering originality, feasibility and social impact. Each poster was graded by 3 examiners scoring 1)regular, 2)adequate and 3)excellent. The overall mean was 2.42; 2.53 for originality, 2.45 for feasibility and 2.30 for social impact.
Denial reactions emerged against learning information related to energy, packaging or food processing. At the end, they learned that practices and methods from other fields promote creativity to solve health care problems.
The lateral thinking process requires education and training to develop creative thinking skills. Self-direction on students is required to overcome frustration to transfer knowledge from a different field into biomedical disciplines. The next step for this project is to encourage students to orient their projects considering the social impact.
The implementation was challenging for administrators, faculty and students considering legal aspects, time and costs. It required further analysis to repeat the experience increasing competency development and student satisfaction.  
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