“I swear by Apollo Physician, by Asclepius, by Hygieia, by Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture.” These are the opening lines of the Hippocratic Oath, recited by newly qualified physicians for millennia and named after Hippocrates of Kos, the ancient Greek physician considered to be the “Father of Medicine”. For over 2000 years following his death, medicine as a profession moved a at glacial pace. But change is coming… introducing, the Physicianeer.
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- 21st Century problems need 21st Century solutions.
- Large scale societal issues have enormous knock on consequences for healthcare delivery.
- Even traditional careers like medicine can be, and should be, adjusted to deal with the problems we face today (and tomorrow).
- Humans are not machines.
About Niall McCormick:
Niall is an engineer, educator and now mature medical student at NUI Galway. He co-founded and ran Colmac Robotics, an award winning educational technology business for 4 years before starting a new adventure and beginning a career in healthcare. As part of the Board of the Camden Education Trust, he advises on innovative educational projects taking place in Ireland and around the world. He is interested in too much but emergency medicine, community and education are at the core.
Contacting Niall McCormick:
By Niall McCormick
“I swear by Apollo Physician, by Asclepius, by Hygieia, by Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture.”
These are the opening lines of the Hippocratic Oath, recited by newly qualified physicians for millennia and named after Hippocrates of Kos, the ancient Greek physician considered to be the “Father of Medicine”. For over 2000 years following his death, medicine as a profession moved a at glacial pace. It is only since the late 1800’s that significant progress has been made in medicine, surgery and disease understanding. And what a leap we have made… We now understand, at a molecular level, the pathways and progression of many diseases and afflictions. Diseases that were previously considered death sentences are now curable or manageable to the point where the person lives a largely normal life. People staring at St. Peter and the pearly gates can now be brought swiftly back from the brink, thanks to seemingly never-ending new innovations and wonder drugs. And yet, for all we know about the human body, there is still so much left to learn.
It is often remarked that innovation is the lifeblood of business and you can argue that it is also the lifeblood of healthcare. To be a good doctor, you need, among other skills, an analytic eye, an attentive ear, a calm demeanour and a desire to help. To address the scale of challenges facing humans and healthcare in the coming years, we need to add a few new skills into the mix, for a few doctors at least.
Enter stage right, the Physicianeer.
- a person who is qualified and licenced to practice medicine.
- a person who is skilled in the art of healing.
- a person who is competent by virtue of his/her fundamental education and training to apply the scientific method and outlook to the analysis and solution of engineering problems.
Next year, NUI Galway will become the first University in Europe to offer a dual Medicine & Engineering degree, dubbed, the Physicianeer programme. Ireland is already a world leader in the med-tech industry and astonishingly, 8 out of the top 10 med tech companies have a presence in Galway. The goal of the programme is to produce graduates who not only have the ability to diagnose, understand and treat a variety of illnesses and afflictions, but who also possess the skills and knowledge to develop innovative and creative new solutions to meet the ever-growing list of challenges we face in our attempts to deliver healthcare in the 21st Century.
As someone who will (hopefully!) possess, at the end of a rather long journey, a dual qualification in Engineering and Medicine, I can clearly see the endless possibilities that a skilled cohort of physicianeers could realise in the Irish health system of the future. As a student engineer, I was trained in the core competencies of problem-solving, critical analysis and working under pressure. These skills have so far served me well in my additional studies. There is significant cross over between the worlds of medicine and engineering. In many respects, most systems in the human bodies work like engineering problems: Input => Process => Output. Medicine however, is as much an art as it is a science. Humans are not machines, everyone is unique and will respond to illness and treatment in their own slightly unique way.
We have no shortage of problems in Irish healthcare; staff retention, enormous waiting lists, trolley-jammed corridors, novel diseases, rising issues relating to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, outdated systems… the list is never-ending. But in every problem, there lies an opportunity to devise a solution. In healthcare, solutions reduce suffering, increase quality of life and prevent untimely death. To fully understand and solve the challenges presented by 21st Century healthcare, you need a 21st Century skillset. Enter stage right, the Physicianeer.