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Design Challenge | An ALiEM Fellows Project


Creative-canstockphoto18644829Design thinking is a concept that has recently taken the business world by storm, and more recently it has begun to creep into other fields, like education! At the core of it, the idea behind design thinking is to encourage designers to think about how they might solve problems that are experienced in the world – to think like engineers and architects, and focus on building solutions for end users. As a part of their fellowship, the 2014-15 ALiEM Fellows (Scott Kobner, BS and Sam Shaikh, DO) were each tasked with a different design job a few months ago. Click below to read more about their projects.

Scott Kobner’s Design Challenge:

Scott was asked to take a medical education paper and turn it into an interesting poster that might increase the uptake of the following CJEM journal article.

Woods RA, Trinder K, D’Eon M, McAleer S. Teaching the RAPID approach at the start of emergency medicine clerkship: an evaluation. CJEM. 2014 Jul;16(4):273-80. PMID: 25060080.

Of note, it is a fairly traditional paper that is written in the usual academic fashion.  The author writes the following about his experience in writing the paper:

Dr. Mark Wahba and I were working on an integrative case for trainees several years back. When I was making the answer key, I used a framework that Dr. Paul Parks had taught me for oral exams when I was a resident. It was Resus, Analgesia, Patient Needs, and Disposition. The approach was really for management, once the assessment was done. Mark Wahba thought it was pretty great, but though it needed more of a snappy mnemonic for it to be memorable. We recruited a medical student, Carlo Di Gregorio, to help us out. The four of us met (well Parksy ‘teleconferenced in’ from Medicine Hat) to come to a consensus. What transpired was RAPID, an overall approach to patient assessment.

I sent the idea to Academic EM, and they said, ‘great idea, but does it work… does it have an impact on trainee performance?’ The answer was I don’t know, so I made it the basis of my MMEd thesis. Hard to believe all that work can be summed up in one infographic, but there it is. I hope you find it useful!

Scott’s infographic is displayed below (PDF):



Scott's Thoughts on the Project

Sam Shaikh’s Design Challenge

Sam was given a slightly different challenge. We’ve all been at the bedside trying to use a clinical form that somehow seemed to make our lives harder than easier, right? Sam was asked to take a form that was functionally workable, but could be kicked up a notch using design thinking principles.


He was asked to create a workplace-based handout that could enhance clinical assessments of elderly patients. Above is a copy of the original form that he was provided. Ultimately, his task was to think of the experience of the end-user to re-create the form with all the existing features, but optimized further for uptake and use.

Take a look at what Sam ended up making below (PDF)!


Sam's Thoughts on the Project

ALiEM-AgileMD logo


P.S. In a few weeks the applications for the ALiEM-AgileMD Design Fellowship will close.  If you’ve read to this part of this post, you’re probably a Design geek like me, so consider putting forth your application!


(c) Can Stock Photo

Teresa Chan, MD
ALiEM Associate Editor
Emergency Physician, Hamilton
Assistant Professor, McMaster University
Ontario, Canada + Teresa Chan