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Knowledge Across Disciplines

The opioid epidemic. Universal health care. Drug availability. What do all these have in common? They are themes and problems in the current-day communities that I found constantly crossing my mind. The situation at hand is that no matter how much I thought about them, I seemed to always encounter a knowledge gap that “road blocked” my thoughts from advancing. This is due to the fact that today’s problematic situations are multifaceted, with each component requiring the input from experts found in various disciplinary fields. Now, imagine what would happen if you had a team of diverse individuals, spanning across a number of fields including engineering, business, law and various health care professions, all sharing their expertise and experiences to solve these problems. This is one of many approaches at solving multifaceted problems at hand. This is exactly what Launch I.V. seeks to build.

Students discussing the Opioid Epidemic during the Launch I.V. Symposium

Launch I.V., founded by three medical students, is a student initiative that fosters and promotes multidisciplinary collaboration across the University of Michigan. Given that there were only a few groups around the UofM campus that offered opportunities to actively discuss and collaborate with other students outside of the classroom from the fields of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, social work, engineering, business, social sciences, etc., this became the mission behind Launch I.V. During the first year, we chose to focus our efforts at Munger Graduate Residences because of our mutual goal to foster multidisciplinary collaboration. As a resident of Munger, I live with six other randomly assigned roommates studying biochemistry, aerospace engineering, philosophy, business management, accounting and public health. This provided me with the opportunity to network and build friendships with people I would not normally engage. The other Launch I.V. co-founders and I saw this as a growth opportunity for this community, thus, decided to organize several events over the course of a year to build an initial membership within the building.

One of my favorite activities is the bi-weekly Launch I.V. talks. Every other Saturday, a cluster of students across different fields gather around to discuss important issues over coffee and food. Some of the topics have included rural health care, wearable fitness devices, drug supply delivery, etc. Interestingly, I discovered that it is sometimes impossible to keep the discussion focused on a single topic. People are curious, and students all love to talk about their specific field. This means that sometimes I find myself listening and learning about lithium batteries, the European educational system, and classic movies when the initial topic was something completely unrelated such as obesity prevention.

Through my role and collaboration with the two other co-founders, we were able to organize a multidisciplinary symposium where students, faculty, and industry experts gathered to discuss the opioid epidemic. We designed the event to include a faculty panel, followed by an interactive case study. This was my first experience in organizing an event of this nature, which took a lot of time and effort. However, we partnered with the Munger staff and other groups such as the Interprofessional Health Student Organization (IHSO) under a common goal of promoting multidisciplinary collaboration. After many late nights of planning and countless cups of coffee, we were able to plan, organize, and execute a successful event.

Establishing Launch I.V. has truly been an incredible experience. I am passionate about our mission to foster multidisciplinary collaboration, and hope that others realize how important this is for a successful career.

Esteban Urias is a first-year medical student at University of Michigan. When he is not cramming for the next test, Esteban can be found hitting 300-yard drivers at the nearest golf driving range. He also enjoys playing basketball, archery, tennis, and swimming. Make sure to ask him for his stories about living in Mexico and his treasured pet dog “Lulu.”