Hackathon: Creating a zero-burnout hospital
In October, Oslo, Louvain and Paris came together to organize the first international Circle U. hackathon. The objective was to come up with solutions to tackle the issue of burnout in the healthcare system. It was three intense days of brainstorming, learning, collaborating and exchanging of ideas.
– Analyzing, researching, and solving actual real-life problems in teams reinforces the capacity of students to collaborate, it enhances their autonomy and provides them with professional skills that will certainly help them integrate the job market, explain Benoît Raucent (UCLouvain) and Viktoria Nagy (Université de Paris), two of the main organizers of the event.
A process of intense creation
Each student team was facilitated by a mentor and a moderator to provide them with methodological guidance and activities to facilitate a playful environment.
The students interviewed an international panel of experts in burnout to have a global understanding of this highly significant issue in our current hospital system.
Among the solutions were smartphone applications and interactive terminals placed at the hospital entry to detect and manage burnout. Other solutions were the idea of gamifying anti-burnout techniques, the possibility of constructing artistic spaces, and a robot roaming the hospital to match tired staff members for a shared coffee break. The students recorded their solutions in the form of a “video pitch”.
– This type of event reinforces students’ entrepreneurial spirit. Some of the highly innovative solutions they proposed could even be implemented with the help of our external partners, say Nicolas Loménie (Université de Paris), Quentin d’Aspremont and Victorien Sonneville (UCLouvain), promoters of student entrepreneurship within their respective universities.
The final day of the hackathon was dedicated to reflection and assessment. The event ended with an evaluation session by an international jury who assessed not only the objective quality and feasibility of the proposed solutions, but also the team effort and their capacity to sell their project.
The students were positively surprised by how interdisciplinary teams made up of seemingly very different profiles ranging from medicine and law to philosophy were able to come up with concrete and comprehensive solutions for such a significant real-life problem.
– It was absolutely fabulous to be able to work as a team, and little-by-little, we learned how to share tasks and to manage time. It was amazing to experience how complementary we became in the end, says Claire, a dentistry student.
– This was a very enjoyable way of working, we basically lost track of time, adds Myriam, an integrative biology student. And we learned how to speak up in the public arena, even in English, mentions Tiziri, a second-year medical student.
– It was extremely refreshing to see our students gain self-confidence little by little in this new European space, open to innovation. We hope, with Viktoria, Nicolas, all the organizers and all of our European partners to be able to organize more and more events of this kind within the frameworks of the Circle U. Challenge, says Benoît Raucent.
The hackathon: an innovative method for ideation
Hackathons are intellectual marathons, i.e., intense, 2-3-day ideation sessions during which the competing teams try to invent creative solutions to concrete, contemporary challenges while using design thinking techniques.
At university level, this method represents a new, innovative form of pedagogy called "challenge-based learning" that allows students to learn in an active, creative manner.
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