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Former Nurse Turned Clinical Researcher Seeks New Challenges to Leave Legacy for Daughter Through MDI | Technological Leadership Institute

Posted on
March 31, 2017
Photo of MDI Student Veronica Pettigrew, class of 2017

Looking for flexibility to advance her career and learn new skills all while working full-time for a cause she is passionate about is what brought Veronica Pettigrew from the east coast to Minneapolis to earn an M.S. in Medical Device Innovation (MDI) from the Technological Leadership Institute (TLI).

“I’m a single mom, climbing the ranks in my career,” said Pettigrew, a former nurse who spent 10 years in the Intensive Care Unit at hospitals and who went on to work in clinical research. “As I networked with physicians, I started to see a business aspect and potential to my career.”

After several years in pharmaceutical research, one of her jobs exposed her to medical devices. She helped with feasibility study and design changes, and it was during this time she was exposed to collaborating with engineers. Her current employer, Boston Scientific — a worldwide manufacturer and marketer of medical devices — eventually recruited her for medical device research on vascular interventions.

That career move brought her from Boston to Maple Grove, Minnesota.

“Once a medical device concept is developed, it comes to me, on the program team,” said Pettigrew, who is a project manager. “I help develop protocol to test a device be seeking regulatory approval.”

Although she had her hands busy, Pettigrew sought an additional challenge – one that would be considerate that she had a daughter who was in school. For Pettigrew, that meant staying local.

“I thought that if I didn’t go ahead and pursue continuing education now, then it might never happen,” said Pettigrew, who describes herself as always on the hunt for the next best thing.

She learned about MDI through Jeannette Bankes, vice president of Global Clinical Research, Communications and Medical Education at Boston Scientific, who had recommended it.

“I was intrigued by the leadership and regulatory components,” said Pettigrew. “MDI entailed what I was looking for without having to become an engineer, and it still provided the technical knowledge and skills I was after.”

The choice to enroll in MDI wasn’t just for herself, though.

“As a mother, I also considered what kind of legacy I was going to leave for my daughter,” said Pettigrew. “I wanted to teach her through example how to go from idea to implementation, so she knows that success is a step-by-step process.”

Pettigrew says MDI has helped boost her confidence and that she has many ideas she’s hoping to make a reality.

“There are many medical devices and drugs that never make it to market,” said Pettigrew. “Can I be a part of something that reduces failure rate? I think I can. Can I help reduce cost, improve treatment and outcomes? I think I can.”

She’s aware that won’t happen overnight, though.

“MDI is giving me a necessary foundation,” said Pettigrew. “Innovation cannot be rushed, and the program really teaches you to practice to fail to learn.”

She said that, in every class, students are given the chance to use what they’ve been taught, so that if they stumble, it’s in a safe environment.

“It’s perfect for a 14-month program,” said Pettigrew. “It’s enough to give you a kick-start.”

While that’s different than the rapid pace she’s used to when she was a nurse, she says she appreciates the change.

“I’m trying to think more like an engineer, trying to be more observant in class and at work, and listening better to my peers and colleagues,” said Pettigrew. “In particular, I enjoyed Kirk Froggatt’s classes, which made me rethink what it means to be a good manager, and I’m trying to incorporate many of the principles from his classes into my life.”

She said she has seen her writing improve and that she has a new mindset when it comes to teamwork.

“Through the curriculum, I have come to realize how I can better facilitate my teams to achieve success,” said Pettigrew. “And part of that is realizing how important it is to get to know your team and provide them incentives so that they stay motivated. The happier your team, the more likely it will succeed.”

Students in the M.S. in Medical Device Innovation degree program study medical technology innovation management, take medical industry-specific electives and more. Attend an information session to find out how the Master of Science in Medical Device Innovation can give you the experience you need to advance your career.

About the Author

Photo of Azra Halilovic

Azra Halilovic

Senior Communications Specialist

As a mother, I also considered what kind of legacy I was going to leave for my daughter. I wanted to teach her through example how to go from idea to implementation, so she knows that success is a step-by-step process.

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