September 20, 2023

Although the idea of an engineer wearing scrubs may seem odd to most people, it’s an ordinary sight at Texas A&M University’s School of Engineering Medicine (ENMED). A groundbreaking program that merges medicine and engineering, ENMED was forged with the mission to cultivate a unique type of professional—a “physicianeer”—armed with an innovative spirit to find solutions to health care challenges.  

“ENMED is training doctors for the 22nd century,” said the school’s dean, Dr. Roderic Pettigrew. “The program embodies the genius of spirited and use-inspired innovation as our students learn to treat medical conditions but also reimagine current approaches for the better.” 

Since its beginning in 2019, the program has equipped students with the tools to revolutionize health care by providing them with a simultaneous education in medicine and engineering. In four years, students earn a master’s in engineering and a doctorate in medicine, laying a firm foundation for an impactful career. Originally a collaboration between the College of Engineering, the School of Medicine and Houston Methodist Hospital, ENMED is now its own Texas A&M school within the Texas Medical Center while continuing its strong ties with its original partners. The school's close partnership with Houston Methodist provides students with practical exposure and real-world application of ENMED’s pioneering concepts.

Engineering Medical Solutions  

This past May, medical experts and several Nobel laureates came together to celebrate a momentous occasion: the graduation of ENMED’s inaugural class. In addition to becoming the world’s first physicianeers, the class achieved another remarkable milestone with a 100% placement rate in medical residency training programs.  

Among the first graduating class was Evan George ’23, who now stands as a beacon of ENMED’s success. Notably, George co-authored a book titled “Non-Traditional” during his ENMED journey, an example that demonstrates the program’s emphasis on action-oriented thinking. Putting his sharpened skills and inventive mindset to use, George plans to continue inventing medical devices, with a focus on the needs of outpatient treatment, while practicing family medicine. “ENMED showed me how to execute my ideas,” George said. “It forced me to become a doer instead of just a thinker.” 

Housed in the Texas Medical Center, the School of Engineering Medicine is training innovative physicians of the future.

George wasted no time applying the knowledge ENMED provided. During his time as a student, he helped build additional ventilators during the COVID-19 pandemic shortage and designed a unique dressing to reduce the pain of surgical drains. These results are the norm for physicianeers. The program’s rigorous curriculum has already resulted in 30 student-created medical innovations, most with patents pending and some with licensing agreements underway. 

“Some of my projects helped physicians create solutions for their problems,” George noted. “The program wants students to identify clinical needs and start driving medical innovation to meet those needs. Many physicians, however, already have ideas they don’t know how to execute. They can present those ideas to us as students, and we can make them a reality.” 

Giving Innovation 

Much of ENMED’s success is made possible by the ongoing support it receives. Like many donors, Dr. Robert Dennis ’83, an Aggie physician, and his wife, Sheli, believe in the power of an Aggie medical education. The couple created a scholarship to support ENMED students, and their generous contribution demonstrates the life-changing potential of giving back. 

“I decided to give because I am an Aggie first and foremost,” Dennis stated. “To me, being an Aggie means giving and serving others.” As an undergraduate, Dennis worked for the School of Medicine, setting up pathology labs for second-year medical students. Inspired by seeing them work, Dennis attended medical school thanks to the help of scholarships.  

“The School of Medicine has always been close to my heart, and I love seeing medicine at Texas A&M expand,” Dennis said. “I hope this scholarship provides some financial help and encourages those who receive it to give back when they can.”