Design students showing their creations

Clinical Connections: Design Thinking

VP Jakub Tolar

Innovation can occur when things come together that aren’t expected to come together. Here, at the University of Minnesota, we are uniquely positioned to cross disciplines and expertise, from design to health care. Forming connections between different fields of study can lead to creative solutions. Design thinking is about taking problems in the real world and using creative methods to uncover new opportunities. It’s a process much like the scientific method.

When people think of design, there is often the assumption that it is simply making things beautiful. Design is much broader and, if done well, can be beautiful but it is also about making things people will find useful. This is true whether it is a tool, a process, a website interface, a report, or a customer experience, all of which have applications in health care.

Design should be about the user and not the designer. Design process begins with extensive information gathering in order to understand what the end user is thinking and feeling, as well as understanding the viewpoint(s) of people who are on the delivery side of the equation. Throughout the process, designers test ideas with users to gather insights to improve their design.

Placing the end user first is a practice in empathy. We can collaborate with our University design programs as we look for solutions to our problems, “wicked” or otherwise, and find better ways to deliver healthcare.

Top 10 OACA Stories of 2019

Let's take a moment to reflect on the Office of Academic Clinical Affairs’ first year as a new office and the projects and collaborations that helped advance our mission to reimagine health for Minnesota by driving innovation and discovery through interprofessional care and training, and being a strong partner to the state, industry and community.

Here are our top 10 most-read stories from 2019.

Help the Stem Cell Institute Celebrate 20 Years

Starting this month, the University of Minnesota Medical School's Stem Cell Institute (SCI) is celebrating 20 years of innovation in stem cell research. All year long, the SCI will remember important moments in its history and spotlight the promising research and discoveries to come. The SCI will host two events this year in honor of the celebration.

Learn more at

Interprofessional Geriatric Case Competition

Faculty are invited to be coaches or judges for the 2020 Interprofessional Geriatric Case Competition, which will be held April 7. Those who are interested can click here for more information and to sign up. The Interprofessional Geriatric Case Competition is being sponsored by the Minnesota Northstar Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP). The competition is a unique opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students from multiple disciplines and schools at the University of Minnesota to come together as a team to develop a comprehensive, interprofessional plan of care for an older adult.

Questions? Please contact [email protected].

Consider Joining the Medical Reserve Corps

The University of Minnesota Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) program is part of a national initiative to mobilize and coordinate volunteers at the local level to assist in the event of a public health crisis or large scale disaster. Any student, faculty, or staff member in the health sciences, Boynton Health, or mental health professional in Student Counseling Services is welcome to join the program.

The MRC relies on volunteers and members are needed from all disciplines, backgrounds, and skill sets (clinical and non-clinical).

Courageous Leadership in Academia: Embracing Vulnerability and Letting Down the Armor

Based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown, it's not fear that gets in the way of courageous leadership, it's armor. It's what we do to self-protect when we're afraid. The truth is we are all afraid and brave at the same time...every day, and sometimes all day. For some of us, when fear takes over, we're a mess and we go into "Transformer" mode, ready for battle. Courageous leaders are aware of when they armor for self-protection and choose to keep their shields off and remain vulnerable—and better able to lead bravely and humanely.

Attend the seminar, led by Sandy Mitsch, MCC, CPCC, CDTLF, certified Dare to Lead™ facilitator to learn more.

Ethics Grand Rounds: Communicating about Breast Cancer Overdiagnosis

Most American women are not aware that routine mammograms can lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment of breast cancer. On Feb. 7, Sarah Gollust, PhD, associate professor of health policy and management at the School of Public Health and affiliate faculty member of the Center for Bioethics, will present findings from a 2019 survey assessing women's attitudes about breast cancer screening and their response to various messages about the potential for overdiagnosis. She will discuss the ethical, political, and communication challenges related to balancing competing evidence-based recommendations amid a complex, politically-charged information environment.  

The Center for Bioethics' Ethics Grand Rounds feature noted local, national, and international bioethics scholars who lecture on a wide variety of ethical issues in health care and the life sciences.

RSVP here. Lectures are free and open to the public.

March 24 - The Inner Work of Racial Justice: On Healing, Connecting and Practicing for Belonging in a Changing World

In this interactive session, lawyer, author, mindfulness teacher and storyteller Rhonda V. Magee will discuss the links between embodied mindfulness and compassion practices and working to disrupt bias and bring about anti-oppressive social change. She will show how awareness practices may be the hidden keys to effectiveness in the work of healing, peacemaking and doing justice. Magee will offer discussion and practices based on her new book, The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness.

Come and bring a friend: all are welcome, no mindfulness experience necessary.

Other News

Nurse supporting patient
The Minnesota Geriatrics ECHO has evolved to serve a diverse mix of clinical and operational leadership from Minnesota’s aging services…
Christina Daniel-McKee, Ana Garza, Jamie Riskedahl, Shawn Savolainen, Dan Wilson, Fatuma Youb
Six community leaders from rural Minnesota have been selected as the 2024-2025 cohort for Project REACH.
Dr. Weaver teaching a Stop the Bleed Station
Lauren Weaver, MD, is M Simulation’s newest surgical simulation fellow.