The amount a medical device packaging professional needs to know is astounding. I grew up as it was evolving and was able to learn what I know in stride – and I’m still learning more all the time! While it is still evolving, there is still a large “barrier to entry” that junior professionals need to take on when they first start. Not only by understanding the regulations and standards they need to abide by in conducting the technical side of their jobs – all the way down to basic quality systems.
Companies don't always do a great job of teaching their new employees about quality systems and why they exist and how we’ve gotten where we are. All of this can make it a hard sell to entice younger professionals and get them excited about medical device packaging. If we, existing community members, don’t do our job well – not only technically, but also professionally and personally, these junior professionals have high potential to leave for easier and more exciting packaging realms. If I were a young professional entering the workforce now, I don’t know that I would stay, with all I would need to know to become a functional packaging professional.
We need these young professionals to stay and we need to give them a reason to stay.
We need to create space for them to come in – and welcome them.
We need to educate them.
We need to find a way to light their fire for medical device packaging enabling them to consider it a worthwhile, rewarding career.
Putting it more personally, these young professionals will be creating the packaging for the devices that will be used on us as we age. I don’t know about you, but I want them to succeed! To do that, I had to do something - and luckily, the role I’m currently in at DuPont allowed me to take action.
After confirming we truly had an issue in providing solid information and training, I started talking with others in the industry. I wanted to form a fundamentals of packaging course specific to medical device packaging that could:
be an industry-led and owned endeavor – without being “owned” by anyone, but instead owned by all. Not owned by a company(s) or have a company(s) profit off of it because it was intended to be a labor of love created by anyone in industry who was interested in creating and delivering the content to young professionals and new entrants to industry to light their fire for medical device packaging, allowing them to fall in love with this industry the way I and so many others have;
be open to all industry professionals who wanted or needed the training and information;
be affordable, such that the companies of the professionals saw it as a good investment;
be hands on for young engineers to be able to touch, feel, and experiment with the materials and equipment – and provide a way for the attendees to meet the people that know so much about them, starting those relationships that are so very near and dear to all of us in our success (where would any of us be without our suppliers, #amiright?); and finally
have any proceeds reinvested in bringing young engineers to industry events to show them how cool medical device packaging is.
So I determined the best home for it was with the Institute of Packaging’s (IoPP) Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee (MDPTC). From starting the conversations in 2017 – to working through the technicalities of it in 2018 and early 2019, we started building the course in late 2019 – with about 30-40 professionals from industry stepping up and volunteering. Professionals from all parts of the value chain that go into creating the sterile barrier – medical device manufacturers, material suppliers, and equipment suppliers… For what was intended as its inaugural session in Fall of 2020 at PackExpo in Chicago. But we all know how that went!
Now, after two years, the course is back on track for this upcoming Fall 2022 at PackExpo in Chicago. It is going to be affordable, it is going to be hands on, it is going to be driven by industry, and proceeds will be invested in inviting young packaging professionals into the medical device world.
Hope you’re all as excited as I am about this coming to life and supporting the next generation of healthcare packaging leaders!