Productive Differences – Engineer Versus Medical Specialist


In what way are engineers similarly productive to medical specialists? The field of the engineer is in design, repair and development of systems and products. The medical specialist is wholly dedicated to the repair (cure) of the human body (or mind).

As the former craftsmen were organized in guilds, the modern engineer is organized in bodies of competences, like “FEANI: the voice of Europe’s Engineers.” One of their products is to standardize the field of the engineer, so that engineers from different countries in Europe can exchange their work.

Medical specialists are organized in similar bodies, with one difference: the medical specialist must maintain its skills and this is prominent in the body: “maintenance of certification” (2). The engineer must update his knowledge on new technological development, but there is no harm if his skills are not used for a while. The medical specialist on the other hand will loose on agility for example with can be dangerous in curing patients.

“The universe of” engineering is related to science, technology, and innovation. (1)
Science is “the body of, and quest for,” fundamental knowledge and understanding of natural and man-made objects; their structure, properties, and how they behave. (1) There is a difference between “Pure Science” and “Applied Science” that serves a specific knowledge jitendra swarup.

The medical universe is similarly built-up: science, technology and innovation. In medical technology the engineer will collaborate with the specialist in sharing knowledge.

The definition of Engineering is — from the same organization — the knowledge required, and the process applied, to conceive, design, make, build, operate, sustain, recycle or retire, something of significant technical content for a specific purpose; – a concept, a model, a product, a device, a process, a system, a technology. (1)

To come up with a definition of a medical specialist is more complicated. There are specialists for different field – similar to engineering. But would knowledge and process to apply not equally match for the medical specialist too: knowledge in the domain (oncology, gynecology, surgery, etc) and the process of repair (cure) a body (patient).

The side also offers a definition on Technology: “an enabling package of knowledge, devices, systems, processes, and other technologies, created for a specific purpose.” The word technology is usually used to describe a complete system, a capability, or a specific device.
Medical technology is also related to engineering. The Surgery robots for example use technology to perform surgery. These robots are designed by medical specialist and engineers.

Innovation is not limited to the field of the engineer. Also the medical specialist is innovative. But in both cases it is about “the successful introduction of something new.” In a business context it relates to something of practical use, with significant technical content and offers a commercial success. Outside the market (in society as a whole) innovation is about improvements in the quality of life.

Palliative care is an example of an innovative improvement in medicine where the quality of life of patients is improved during or after their cure.

Very important are also the two main components of engineering: engineering knowledge, the “know what”, and engineering process, the “know how”.

Engineering Knowledge – is the growing body of facts, experience and skills in science, engineering and technology disciplines; coupled to an understanding of the fields of application.
Engineering Process – is the creative process which applies knowledge and experience to seek one or more technical solutions to meet a requirement, solve a problem, and then exercise informed judgment to implement the one that best meets constraints.(1)
What about the know-what and know-how of the medical specialist. And more important how does this affect the organization?

The productivity profile of both the engineer and the specialist is quite similar. Both work on curing a problem (disease or technical fault), they organize resources to solve this by using other expertise and resources (assistance, other medical specialists like radiology, etc) and they can coach or teach others in their job on medical subjects.

Medical specialists however are more than engineers directly involved in client contact. The engineer works for a sponsor who wants to solve an issue. The medical specialist works directly for the client who is also the patient. Informing the client (sponsor) on the work to be done is however in both cases not always the first priority nor the best competence of the engineer / specialist.

Teamwork is also for both the engineer and specialist a recurring challenge. Both are very capable of solving issues themselves, although the world (technology and problems) becomes more complex that the individual problem solver needs to address others more and more.
Innovation is likely a topic that will be valued different too by either. The engineer wants to use new technology because it means progress in his job and career. But this can be different for the person behind the engineer or specialist. Some are more innovation-prone than others. Innovation requires the development of new practices and old experience becomes obsolete. Think about the surgeon who will change from traditional manual surgery towards computer assisted surgery. Both methods are not compatible on the long term.

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