Educating the next generation to solve complex health problems through design thinking


Unexpecting the Unexpected


This summer has been unexpected in every way possible. For starters, I had never been to Philly and was shocked when I arrived and saw the size of the city. Everything was super foreign to me, like the concept of having street after street named after trees, and having a grid system that actually worked and made sense. My first day I was thrown the curveball of having to take an excursion to the Navy Yard to get blood drawn. I spent 30 minutes trying to find the Navy Yard Shuttle because there was construction right where it supposedly always stopped. I had to flag down the bus driver in the middle of the street, which was an experience in and of itself. I didn’t expect to be living in a frat house. And I didn’t expect to sign up for the US Open and begin seriously training 18 days before my event.

Nevertheless, the biggest blindside I had these past ten weeks was the amazing time I had at the Jefferson Health Design Lab. Little did I know that I would leave this place knowing how to 3D print anything I wanted, how to lead non-profit executives through design thinking workshops, how to conduct myself in meetings with PR officers and other directors, and so much more. I never realized that there was an entire area devoted to design within the medical world. I love making things and being creative, and also health-related topics. This summer allowed me to combine hands-on creativity and problem solving skills with medicine in the most unique way.

All of the unexpected events this summer have turned into blessings, into opportunities for growth, into memories that will be cherished forever. My struggles getting settled in with my new surroundings allowed me to learn a new city, discover new places, experience new things. The various projects that I was given the chance to participate in brought me to areas throughout Philadelphia that I would not have thought to venture to if I were simply doing a sedentary internship or visiting the city. I was able to talk one-to-one with community members throughout the city and learn from the people about their neighborhoods and lifestyles. My Uber drivers in Kensington recounted instances that were frightening and eye-opening about what those in that area experienced in terms of drug abuse and gun violence. I followed nurses throughout the Jefferson ED and learned their major role within the workings of a hospital. I got to understand the inner working of 3D printing and its application within the medical field. I gained friendships throughout the course of this internship as well as many great memories—from the random days the bosses would buy the interns food to the times when we would struggle getting all of the equipment for the pop-up events into the Ubers.

My time here at Jeff Design has opened my eye to both the potential that design has within medicine, as well as my potential as a researcher and student. I have learned to rethink and reframe problems, to attack them from different angles, and to always continue learning and trying new things. Thank you to Dr. Bon Ku and Dr. Robert Pugliese for this summer opportunity.

Monica McGrathComment