There aren’t many BMEs who come into their first year dead-set on working in regulatory. As expected, it took Beatrice Wan a few years to realize it was what she loved. After graduating from Georgia Tech with a BME degree in 2011, Beatrice started working at CR Bard, a medical technology company in Covington, GA. She first entered their Climbers Program, a two-year rotational program that exposes new graduates to four different areas of the company. Initially, Beatrice didn’t think that regulatory was an option for engineers (thinking it was something lawyers usually did) , but when she took up her last rotation in International Regulatory, she realized this field encompassed what she enjoyed most: strategizing, writing, and most importantly, understanding the big picture and being able to communicate it to others. After the Climbers Program, Beatrice took a specialist position in International Regulatory for two years, and she now focuses on the Europe/US market.
A typical day at Bard for Beatrice involves a combination of new product development and current product modifications (every time a product is changed, the FDA may need to be notified). On any given day, she could be working on regulatory assessments, drafting 510Ks, or brainstorming regulatory strategy for new products. Beatrice explained that the most useful skill she gained from the BME curriculum is PBL: “PBL is critical for regulatory. For international regulation, you need to figure out what data to leverage. Whatever situation you’re put into, you need to utilize the data and tools that you have.”
Beatrice’s journey from convocation to graduation involved exposure to several different sectors of the healthcare industry. She wanted to be a doctor as a freshman, so she took all the pre-health classes and even volunteered at Grady. As an upperclassmen, she did research in the MSE department, working on memory-shaped polymers. In addition, Beatrice worked as a project management intern at McKesson Relay Health, a health IT company. This made her realize she enjoyed working in industry but was more passionate about devices. This thought was solidified in her senior design class, where she developed a laparoscopic surgical tool for pyloric stenosis.
Not surprisingly, Beatrice’s main piece of advice was this: “Try everything, from internships to clubs to research. You need to try everything to see what you enjoy. Spend time getting exposure to different things.” She also urges students to go to as many networking and organization events as possible because there are so many options out there that you wouldn’t normally think of for a BME. Going forward, Beatrice plans on continuing to work in regulatory at Bard while also getting her MBA at Emory.