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MDI Student Shares How the Program is Fast-Tracking Her Career | Technological Leadership Institute

Posted on
January 8, 2019
Photo of MDI 2019 student Laura Sweeney

Wonder what kind of individuals are in the M.S. in Medical Device Innovation (MDI) program? We get a variety of young professionals looking to make their mark in the medical device industry. Hear from Laura Sweeney, a 2019 MDI student.

Where are you from and what was your undergraduate degree?

Madison, Wisconsin. I earned a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in biology from Edgewood College.

Where are you working now and what is your role?

I work as a senior pharma quality engineer at Medtronic. My unit acts as quality support for the SynchroMed™ Infusion System. Some of the most recent projects we’ve worked with are supporting the transfer of a product to a different facility, test method validation and other remediation efforts.

What led you to TLI? How did you discover us, why was this important to you?

After switching fields, the "impatient millennial" in me didn’t want to wait to gain years of experience. I felt that the natural next step was to find a master's program to accelerate not only my understanding of the medical device industry but also to make me a stronger candidate for higher-level roles. I discovered MDI through a work colleague who had mentored a 2018 graduate of the program, Jake Schauberger. Sitting down and having a conversation with them was crucial to me deciding on MDI  in my opinion, personal experience is always the best experience.

What about MDI attracted you?

I selected the MDI program because I knew it would give me the oversight that I needed without having to go back to school for multiple years. The program is condensed, helping me excel in my career in a short period of time like I’ve been planning.

How has MDI helped you so far and what do you anticipate will be the result by the time you graduate in August 2019?

One of the major takeaways that I’ve been using every day at work and in school is how to most efficiently work in groups. The corporate world of today expects employees to be working efficiently almost all of the time without necessarily providing the tools to make this happen. In MDI, we learn how to "go slow to go fast" in the group setting, which helps us get the most productivity out of teams and group members. MDI has also opened my eyes to a new way of thinking in my everyday job. Specifically, it has taught me to look ahead and think about where technology is headed, rather than just putting out fires and doing things how they’ve always been done. In this sense, I've learned to see the bigger picture and be more proactive in my role.

How have the relationships you've developed in the program helped you?

One professor, Kirk Froggatt, in particular really sparked a fire in me to improve efficiency within my work unit. By using the tools we’ve learned in class, I have held multiple workshops to help my unit discuss strengths, weaknesses and how we can help each other by supplementing in areas where some individuals may excel. Just by simply starting some of these conversations, I’ve already seen team morale increase tenfold. Kirk has been an instrumental faculty member for the program. He's always willing to help you brainstorm communication techniques, and has taught us so much about open dialogue. His constant support has helped many of us in the program grow as leaders.

What about the program surprised you?

I was surprised that we are able to cover so much information in such a short time. I’m only halfway through the program, but I’ve already seen a huge impact on my daily work life.

Can you talk about your practicum experience and what you learned that has been useful in your work?

One of the best lessons that I’m learning through practicum is that voice of the customer is critical to success. This dovetails nicely with working in Quality, where we tend to complete our work with the patient in mind, but also need stakeholder involvement. Figuring out who that true enduser is, especially in a topic or area I’m not familiar with, has helped me work more productively not only in the classroom but also in the work setting.

What are some of your short-term and long-term goals?

My short-term goal is to grow myself as a medical device professional. My long-term goal is to position myself in a career that not only challenges me as a medical device professional but also utilizes my leadership skills most efficiently.

Where do you think your industry is headed? What skills do you think will be important and how has your program helped?

One of the directions that medical devices and pharma, in general, are heading is personalized medicine. Many challenges that exist in medical devices and drugs are due to the variability among patients. Leveraging capabilities to make things more personalized will not only help devices and drugs work more efficiently but also result in more positive outcomes for patients.

Would you recommend the MDI program? To what kind of professionals and why?

I would absolutely recommend this program. In my opinion, there are two types of people that would excel. The first is someone looking to become an entrepreneur or begin a start-up venture within the medical device field. MDI equips you well with not only what to expect along your journey, but also where and how to start. The faculty and presenters that are brought in are great resources in the current industry who can be leveraged for advice. The second type of professional I would recommend this program to is someone like myself — either a professional new to the medical device industry or someone looking for an overview of how to bring a medical device to the market.

What message do you want to send to potential students and the next generation of leaders?

Never stop learning! There is endless information that can help you grow as a person and a professional. One lifelong goal should be to continue learning as long as you live!

Students in the M.S. in Medical Device Innovation (MDI) 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.

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