Evidence-based Design Learning: Preparing Students for Careers in Healthcare Design

Presented by: Taneshia West Albert, Dr. Miyoung Hong, Lindsay Tan

This study explores the influence of the healthcare design studio experience on students’ short term professional goals. Here the authors compared healthcare-related certification and employment levels between two student cohorts, each within three months of graduation. The goals of the study were: 1) to increase the number of students who earned Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification (EDAC); and 2) to increase the number of students who secured healthcare-related internship/employment. Interior Design matters; this is well documented in the healthcare sector. However, it has been the authors’ experience that interior design students do not necessarily perceive the full value of pursing healthcare design practice. At the time of graduation, senior-level undergraduate students are focused on securing their first job (Chuang et al, 2009). Educators often take the broader view of preparing students for life-long careers-this means encouraging the attitudes and values appropriate to a professional, such as the “commitment to provide service to the public that goes beyond the economic welfare of the practitioner” (Sullivan, 2005, p. 36). In fact, students’ values play a crucial role in determining career choices (Riggenbach, 2008) and students may be more committed to career goals when there is a clear connection between major coursework and professional practice (Leppel, 2001). Consider the possibility that students’ values, attitudes, and beliefs about healthcare design are strongly influenced by their experience in the healthcare design studio. The authors approached this question from three different perspectives – education, research, and practice –they desire to improve the quality of healthcare design by educating emerging interior designers who are professionally competent, globally aware, and socially engaged. To this end, the team undertook to assess, revise, and realign the curriculum of a capstone undergraduate interior design studio to better prepare students for professional competencies and attitudes related to healthcare design practice. Changes to the curriculum included: requiring students to create a series of full scale testable mockups; creating an in-class discussion of designed spaces critically interconnected to a series of assigned theoretical readings; incorporating in-class discussions of key healthcare related cross disciplinary practice and design goals; and including of guest lecturers who discuss their expertise in the healthcare arena. These changes were implemented with the goal of relating what is learned within the studio course to what is done within healthcare design. The authors will present the study’s findings along with suggestions for further research. Results include: 1) increasing the number of students who passed the EDAC exam to thirty percent of the class; and 2) increasing the number of students who secured healthcare-related internship/employment from to forty percent of the class. To some extent the course revisions were considered a success; however, further study is needed. The authors intend to undertake a second phase that surveys students’ attitudes, values, and beliefs related to healthcare design practice in order to better understand how the healthcare studio experience influences students’ short term professional goals regarding healthcare-related certification and employment. To that end, the authors will display students’ work highlighting evidence the materials learned from assigned readings thus offering insight into the understanding of evidence-based design. The authors will also share the most notable recurring comments in the course evaluations where the course had broadened student’s appreciation for possible practice relevant to interior design.


  • Chuang, N.-K., Walker, K., Caine-Bush, N. (2009). Student perceptions of career choices: The impact of academic major. In Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences Education, 27(2), pp. 18-29
  • Leppel, K. (2001). The impact of major on college persistence among freshmen. In Higher Education, 41, pp. 327-342
  • America (2nd ed.). Son Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass
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