Medical student, entrepreneur, or innovator? Why not all three?
Medical students at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont are nothing if not multi-faceted and often use their vast and varied skill sets, talents, previous education, and work experiences to undertake groundbreaking projects and research in addition to their studies. Following in the footsteps of designMED Student Interest Group (SIG) founders Al Marchese '19, Lillian Chang, MD'17, and Anna Lidofsky '20, are Jhaimy Fernandez '21, Collin Anderson '21, Cari Carpenter '21, and Jenny Holland '21. The students are next in a growing group of #UVMFutureDocs who are combining their passion for medicine with an interest in innovation to positively impact and improve healthcare systems and technologies within the state of Vermont and beyond.
The Beginning: DesignMED
During Orientation Week, Fernandez and her fellow classmates were introduced to designMED, a SIG that seeks to support and encourage students who want to "collaborate with UVM students of various backgrounds to develop innovative healthcare solutions." With their interest piqued, the students attended a special event hosted by the SIG and learned of The Accelerator Program, a funding initiative for UVM student-led startup ventures by the Catamount Innovation Fund (CIF), a student-run education program at the University of Vermont, created by Marchese in fall 2017.
Fernandez, who comes from a family of entrepreneurs, immediately gathered interested first-year classmates to create a team, now called ImproveMed, and submitted an application to be considered for the program. The team’s members offer a balance of backgrounds, ranging from web design to retail systems.
The ImproveMED Team
Before entering medical school, Holland worked for five years at Boston Children’s Hospital as a clinical research coordinator, helping to build a website intended to serve as a coping tool for children battling chronic illness and their families. She also completed a graduate certificate program at Tufts University School of Medicine in digital health communications, focusing her studies on how to streamline processes and workflows in hospital settings in order to improve communication and patient outcomes.
Anderson brings a background in business to the group with an M.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Medical Management from the University of Rochester. He also worked for two years in clinical research at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Carpenter, who used to be a chief medical assistant for a dermatology office, has experience in the creation of supply inventory systems and medical assistant training programs.
Fernandez rounds out the dynamic group with her skills as a public speaker and the creator of a non-profit in Los Angeles that taught children how to identify personal strengths and utilize them to benefit their communities.
The team is advised and supported by Carpenter’s husband, Paul, a sophomore in the UVM Grossman School of Business who worked on the Apple Internal Systems and Technology Team and fellow medical student Andrew Darling ’21, who has a Ph.D in mechanical engineering.
Having jumped the first hurdle of the process – the application – ImproveMed has now been accepted into the CIF Accelerated Program and is working to develop a business concept that would improve upon existing opioid risk assessment tools available to Vermont clinicians.
They will present their concept to the CIF management team on April 4, 2018 in the hopes they will be chosen for funding via a non-equity award of up to $10,000.