My Experience with Engineering in Healthcare

Jacquie Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Hey everyone! I hope you had a wonderful three day break last weekend! This week is E-Week at USC. That means that there are fun events to celebrate engineering. In honor of that, I thought I would tell you guys about an experience I have had with engineering in the real world that I really enjoyed: my internship at Providence Medical Center.

Last semester, I started working as an Operational Excellence Intern at Providence. My boss, Sang Yoon, was a Master Black Belt. Before meeting him, I thought the only kind of black belt was in karate. Now I know that a Master Black Belt is someone highly trained and certified in Lean Six Sigma Methodology. This is a way of approaching problems to increase efficiency and minimize waste. While working here, I was even lucky enough to go to a three day training session to learn the basics of Lean Six Sigma. Sang was also a strong believer in the Toyota Way, which is a set of principles coined by Toyota Manufacturing. The two main areas of this methodology are constant improvement and respect for workers. Towards the end of my internship a consultant, June, came to see the progress of Providence’s Operational Department. He came from Korea and worked very closely with implementing the Toyota Way in many manufacturing businesses. His input helped us get into motion a new project: increasing the efficiency and lowering the costs of Providence’s supply warehouse. This was a short kaizen that I worked on along with several other interns. Through teamwork and analysis we were able to modify the process, leading to the achievement of our goals. This is just one instance of a process improvement project I worked on; I also worked with food services, the operation room, and oncology.

Me and my fellow interns

Me and my fellow interns

Another great part of this internship was recognizing the connection between healthcare and engineering. Beyond simply collecting and analyzing data, I learned the process flow of the hospital. I made flow charts of many of the processes happening every day, including the discharge and admission processes. A couple times of the week I was even placed on the floor working directly with nurses and patients. The specific unit I was assigned to was the DOU, Direct Observation Unit. Answering call lights to assist the patients and observing the nurses complete the discharge process was very hands-on. I even worked alongside the pharmacists to understand their role in the hospital’s operation. Overall, I gained a whole new appreciation for the role of engineers in a hospital setting.

What made this internship even more exciting was the time that I was there. As many of you know, most hospitals are switching to purely electronic health records. Providence was in the process of switching from CAMIS to EPIC. Such a change is huge for the hospital as it alters the flow of the hospital, aiming to increase efficiency. My internship ended before the full implementation of EPIC was completed, but I am anxious to read about the magnitude to which this switch increased the efficiency of the hospital.

Well that is a summary of my internship last semester. This coming summer I will be working in a very different industry, data centers. I will be learning about technical sales and consulting with Century Link Technology. Make sure to check out my blog in the fall to see what that was like! Have a great weekend!


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