Interview: Gabe Linke, 3D Printing Coordinator, Omaha Children’s Hospital 🗓

Scheduled Blog Influencer Interviews

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Gabe Linke has been in the imaging profession for over 10 years as a technologist in MRI. He received his Bachelors in Radiation Sciences from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. 2 years ago he became the Cardiac Imaging & 3D Printing Coordinator for Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha Nebraska. His original duties involved overseeing Cardiac CT and MRI and starting their 3D printing program. This program started with 3D printing cardiac models for presurgical planning. It has since grown outside of cardiology and is hospital-wide serving multiple subspecialties with presurgical planning, educational modeling, and numerous research applications. Gabe will also be a speaker for our upcoming 3DHEALS OMAHA: AdvancedTek, Healthcare 3D Printing event.

 

Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?

Gabe: I experienced 3D printing for the first time when I accepted my position at Omaha Children’s Hospital. I was in my second interview for a cardiac imaging coordinator position and Dr. Scott Fletcher handed me a printed heart from a case they had done.  It blew me away to hold the replica of the child’s heart in my hand and I immediately could see the potential this technology would have to impact healthcare.

Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey in 3D printing (bio-fabrication/bio-printing)?

Gabe: After accepting the job at Omaha Children’s I was shown the printer that we had received as a gift to start our own in-house 3D printing program. The program started in Cardiology, but as I saw the way these 3D Models impacted the way our Cardio-thoracic surgeons I knew we had to do more. Seeing the impact in the first few cases inspired me to go to my directors and expand the program to a hospital-wide 3D printing service.

Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D printing (bio-printing/bio-fabrication)? This can be a mentor, a patient, a celebrity, anyone basically. You can name more than one as well.

Gabe: I think I would have to say Dr. Scott Fletcher after my answer earlier right? Scott gave me the gift of this job and I will forever be grateful to him. He has taught me so much about congenital cardiology and has supported me every step of the way as this program continues to grow.

Dr. Jorge Zuniga has taught me so much about the technology of 3D printing and the global impact we can have using this technology together. I very early on adopted his vision for open collaboration is paramount in a successful program. I am honored to call him a personal friend and colleague.

Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?

Gabe: Our patients, period. I joined the medical profession for one reason and that was to help people. Seeing a child set down an iPad to better understand why he’s having an operation, hearing a surgeon speak on how they did a better procedure or operation due to a 3D model, or hearing how much better a nurse can do her job because she was handed a 3D model of a patient’s heart. All of these are helping a patient through one means or another to have better care.

Jenny: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?

Gabe: One of the biggest obstacles, was growing our program outside of Cardiology. My solution was easy:  Dr. Lincoln Wong. Dr. Wong, one of our radiologists, adopted this technology and showed it to everyone. He would be reading a case and see where the application could help a surgeon and would have a model made. He would take these models to the surgeons and that was it. Our hospital now prints for multiple subspecialties and we continue to grow. Dr. Wong’s passion for 3D printing has been paramount in the expansion of our program.

Jenny: What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D Printing/bio-printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?

Gabe: I have to admit that I have to answer this from a perspective that I do not personally know. Omaha Children’s has been very supportive of its 3D Printing Program, but in general, I think that funding for these programs is the biggest challenge. This will take care of itself in time, as I believe that reimbursement is inevitable based on the positive impacts 3D models are having on patient care.

Jenny: If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be?

Gabe:

  1. A life full of love: it is the single most powerful thing in the universe and can overcome anything put in its way.
  2. The cure for mental illness/addiction.
  3. The Flashes Speed ( had to lighten the mood a little)

Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?

Gabe: Find something that you’re passionate about and you enjoy doing and figure out how to turn it into your job.

Bad advice: Do a job just for the money.

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