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Learner Profile
Lena Levin

Lena Levin, CFO of Via Surgical and HMX Student

HMX Courses

Physiology, Biochemistry

Lena Levin has been helping to develop medical devices for over a decade, despite having no formal medical training. Lena took HMX courses to build the knowledge she needs to better communicate with surgeons and take her company’s products to the next level. 

Want to hear more from Lena? Listen to her story on the Learning Paths podcast.

Why were you interested in HMX courses?

I’m a founder of a medical device startup…we develop minimally invasive sutures. None of us have medical backgrounds, we just saw the need and struggle of surgeons. We work closely with American surgeons, we go into the operating room and observe how the surgeons do the procedure. When we develop [a product] we go very deep into the knowledge – what are different kinds of surgical approaches, what are different kinds of meshes – but at the same time I have no knowledge in physiology whatsoever. It’s kind of a huge gap and very limiting situation where I don’t have enough tools to understand what’s going on. So I’m in the operating room and seeing only the external part and not understanding the whole process.

I tried several approaches; I took courses in medicine [at a university], and I listened to open lectures online. All of them are very theoretical. If I want to be a medical student that’s what I need to do, but that’s not what I’m looking for, I just needed something different…I found HMX and I liked it very much, especially physiology because it was very close to what I’m doing.

What did you like most about the courses?

The biggest advantage was that [the courses] took the theoretical part and applied it to reality…When [Dr. Schwartzstein] explained transmural pressure, I’m not an engineer, so it was new, I didn’t understand a lot. But then when he went to a specific example like cardiovascular and how it works when you do the screening of the heart from inside, how you go through the arteries, then it made sense how it’s all working. It just combined and made me further learn it.

I liked specifically – I think it’s very unique, I didn’t find it in any other place – this ability for a person who’s not on a medical staff to be virtually in a clinical situation with real clinical patients. Especially I loved the way the physician talked to his patients; it’s not only the clinical knowledge but also how the physician approaches a patient of a certain age or with a certain disease.

Do you see ways you will be able to apply what you’ve learned to your work?

Yes, of course. I host a dinner sponsored by my company at a surgeon conference, and the surgeons, they sit and talk, and now I can understand what they’re talking about. For me personally I will use it for further thinking of what to develop and how to develop – it’s more application for further products or further developments. When I talk to surgeons and ask them are there any challenges, they say “No, I know how to do everything, I don’t need anything.” It’s only when you go inside and look at the work they’re doing, you say, “Wow, there is a better thing to do.” It’s the same like with robot-assisted surgery – when it started surgeons said, “We don’t need robots, we can do everything with our hands.” But today it enables them to do more complicated surgeries that were not possible before.

The more physiology I know, the more understanding it gives me to develop different products or to apply concepts to different parts of the body.

Who do you think can benefit from these courses?

I think for entrepreneurs specifically in the medical or health sector, it’s very beneficial. Most of them are engineers and have no basic knowledge in physiology – we have to work together with the surgeons or physicians.

This is basic information everybody should learn – it should be like math. Because it’s your body, it’s all of what you have.

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