As the semester comes to a close, I have found myself looking back at this past year and all that I’ve learned and accomplished. This year has been one of the best years of my life, and there hasn’t been a single day that I questioned my choice to join the GMI program at Rice. When I chose to pursue my Master’s degree as part of this program, I knew that it would be an incredible experience, but I could have never imagined all that it would give me.
Prior to this experience, I had a very minimal understanding of how the medtech industry works, especially on the global scale. This year taught me the ins and outs of the industry and helped me get a better feel for my personal fit once I start my own career. The internship experience at Boston Scientific in Costa Rica gave me a first-hand look at a day-in-the-life of a biomedical engineer, and I was able to learn more about the responsibilities of many of the different departments within a medical device company. That experience was undeniably valuable, and it is something that I will always appreciate.
In addition to learning the ropes within a large medtech company, this program has also given us the opportunity to learn what it takes for a startup to be successful. In our Healthcare Innovation & Entrepreneurship course, we were taught the entire biodesign process, from clinical needs finding all the way through go-to-market strategy. The fast-paced nature of this course was challenging to say the least, but it was an experience that taught me so much in a short amount of time and exposed me to all of the aspects of a business that I would not have known otherwise.
Perhaps one of the most important things that I’ve learned from this program is the significance of identifying and understanding the true clinical need that you are trying to solve. This is something that was encouraged from the beginning, during our time in Costa Rica, and has proven to be critical for the success of our projects throughout the entire year. If you don’t take the time at the beginning to understand the true need, you may find yourself running down the rabbit hole. Luckily, the GMI program provided us with so many opportunities to observe in hospitals, both in Costa Rica and the Texas Medical Center, and to collaborate with clinicians and industry experts, which allowed us to get a real feel for any unmet clinical needs and how our solutions could be best designed for our stakeholders.
This program was the perfect transition for me between my Bachelor’s degree and the start of my career in the industry. I could not have asked for anything more. I’ve been given the opportunity to improve my design skills, learn new technical skills, work with a variety of different teams, collaborate with people from another country, and practice the entire biodesign process from identification to implementation in less than a year. None of this would be possible without the hard work and dedication that Dr. Richardson gives to the program and to his students. He has done such a great job this year of sharing his knowledge with us and pushing us to be the best that we can be. He has been impeccable as a director and mentor, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity of working with and learning from him. Along with Dr. Richardson, we owe so much of our success to Sheretta, who manages to keep all of us on track. Honestly, I don’t know how she does it, but this program wouldn’t stand a chance without her. She is always willing to help us, no matter how strange the request may be, and I can’t thank her enough for all that she’s done.
This year certainly would not have been the same without the rest of my GMI crew. It’s hard to believe that just a year ago we were complete strangers. Since then, there have been many adventures shared, countless fun times, and endless laughter. Even during the hardest points of the year, we have always managed to make the best of it. Each person in this program has taught me something and has inspired me to be the best person that I can be. I will always be grateful to have worked with such a dedicated, intelligent, and enthusiastic group of people. We accomplished a lot this year, and I am lucky to call each and every one of you a friend. Though it is sad that our time of being together every day is coming to a close, I am excited to see where each of you ends up. Plus, our one year reunion isn’t that far away!
In my very first blog post, I wrote that the choice to participate in the GMI program might be the best decision I’ve ever made, and I was right. Not only have I developed my professional skills, but I’ve grown even more as a person. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, have learned to be more adaptable, maintain a positive attitude, and be willing to take a step back and pivot when necessary, and have improved my communication, leadership, and problem solving skills. I’m excited to take all that I’ve learned and apply it throughout my career in the industry. As I move to the next chapter of my life, I will always appreciate my time in the GMI program at Rice University and all of the people I’ve met along the way. Pura Vida.