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Designing one’s life in medicine
  1. Lynae Conyers1,
  2. Scott Wright2
  1. 1General Internal Medicine Fellow, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Division of General Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lynae Conyers, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA; lconyer3{at}

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Design thinking is both a mindset and a practice; it is a method for problem solving that uses specific approaches, including empathy and prototyping, to discover creative solutions via an iterative, human-centred process. These methods were originally applied to the designing of goods and services, and it has been lauded for inspiring creativity that emerges from a genuine understanding of the needs of the end user. Design thinking is now taught in many fields, including business, information technology, engineering and education, to name a few.

As detailed in the book Designing Your Life, authors Burnett and Evans have adapted the design thinking framework and applied it to an area they term ‘life design’.1 In the book, they describe design thinking principles that ultimately translate into an approach for crafting a well-designed life through the application of specific regular practices that may facilitate flourishing through proactive living. In explaining the rationale, they elucidate benefits of this approach well beyond having confidence related to where one is heading and expound on the perils of failing to thoughtfully chart a course forward. The authors began by teaching life design courses to undergraduate students at Stanford who fretted about their futures and how to build on their early successes. In their teachings and book, they define a well-designed life as ‘one in which who you are, what you believe, and what you do all line up together’.1 From preliminary studies, data suggest that students participating in life design were both better equipped to envisage their desired career and felt emboldened for the actual pursuit.1

While the potential utility of these life design tools and lessons for a pluripotent 20-year-old college student is easily imagined, what might be their practicality or benefit for those who are further differentiated? Burnett and Evans …

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  • Contributors LC and SW developed the presented idea. LC wrote the manuscript. SW provided critical feedback and revision of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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