Needs Finding in Healthcare


Needs Finding in Healthcare is a three-week intersession course offered exclusively to rising sophomores as part of Stanford’s Sophomore College program.

Many classes offered at Stanford during the regular academic year provide students with the opportunity to understand healthcare problems and invent new technologies to address them. But none give undergraduates the chance to observe the delivery of healthcare in the real world and identify important unmet needs for themselves…until now!

In the period between summer and fall quarters, students will be introduced to Stanford Biodesign’s need-driven approach to health technology innovation. Then, they will perform first-hand observations in Stanford’s emergency department, operating rooms, and outpatient clinics to identify unmet health-related needs. Working individually and in pairs, they also will conduct background research and validation interviews with physicians and other care providers to characterize and prioritize those needs. And they will build early-stage prototypes to more deeply understand certain aspects of the problems they find most compelling.

Additional time will be spent networking with experienced innovators and entrepreneurs from the health technology field and exploring different career pathways at the intersection of medicine and engineering.

Course title
Needs Finding in Healthcare
Course number(s) Quarter(s)
Schedule Units
9:00am - 4:00 pm
Eligible students
Undergraduates (rising sophomores only)
Enrollment information
Apply through Stanford’s Sophomore College
Learning goals
  • Understand and apply the fundamentals of the need-driven biodesign innovation process
  • Perform effective first-hand clinical observations
  • Draft meaningful need statements
  • Conduct in-depth need research and use it to iteratively improve need statements
  • Use need research to competitively screen needs
  • Discover different career pathways in healthcare and/or health technology innovation and how to pursue them

What the Students Are Saying…

“Needs Finding in Healthcare is the best course I have taken at Stanford because it goes so far beyond a course — it's an experience. The professors work tirelessly to prepare content down to the minute, meet individually with you to mentor you beyond course content, and even accompany you outside of the classroom in meals, socials, and off-campus. The content itself is fascinating… You'll have the opportunity to do immersive research about something you're interested in, go into the clinical setting, and solidify your career interests.”

“I highly recommend this class to anyone and everyone. I learned so much about bioengineering and the biodesign process. I also was given opportunities to shadow world-renowned physicians in the clinic, the operating room, and the emergency department. In addition, the networking opportunities are simply amazing. It was such a fun and engaging class, and it gave me the best SoCo experience I could ask for.”

“If you are premed, interested in bioengineering, or interested in healthcare, TAKE THIS COURSE! The teaching staff is absolutely wonderful, extremely open, and amazing teachers. I learned so much about both the biodesign process and what it is like to work in healthcare because of this class…. It has been such a transformational experience that has guided my future plans.”

“This is the best course I have taken at Stanford by far. The faculty is so approachable and genuinely care about your success, both within and outside of class. The shadowing was such a valuable part of the class and further confirmed my interests in medicine. I really enjoyed how organized the content was, and how everything built up to the final presentation…. I truly valued what I learned.”