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Akiva Kirschner 

R&D Engineer III, Product Engineering
Vernon Hills

We are the engineers of possible: Passion for Healthcare Runs in the Family

Akiva Kirschner is surrounded by those working in the healthcare industry. His mom is a cancer survivorship nurse practitioner, his twin sister and sister-in-law are oncology nurses, and his brother is a medical device engineer.

So, it should come as no surprise then that Akiva applied to the BD Engineering Development Program (EDP) in 2020 after graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering.

“I come from a very tight-knit Jewish family and I love that when we get together, we share stories and talk about healthcare. My family pushes me hard to think about the impact I could make in this space, which I love,” said Akiva.

Growing, Learning, and Leaning into the EDP

Akiva is in his third rotation in the EDP living in Chicago and commuting to Vernon Hills, IL where BD has an R&D office. During this rotation, he is supporting the BD Interventional business in the Pleural and Peritoneal Access area, something that interests him a great deal given what he experienced growing up and watching his grandfather endure a serious health issue.

“When I was in middle school, my grandfather suffered an unexpected health emergency, which caused a multitude of other health issues, including the need for a ventilator. He came to live with us for over a year and a half until he passed away so we could take care of him around the clock. We turned our home into a hospital,” explained Akiva. “Looking back, I saw how critical the medical devices were keeping him alive and realized how I could apply engineering skills to help with the quality of life. Working at BD, with the magnitude of scale we have is exciting and it’s very personal for me as well.”

In his second rotation from July 2021 to July 2022, Akiva was based in San Diego, CA, and working within the Medication Management Solutions (MMS) business. His first rotation was spent in Franklin Lakes, NJ, where BD is headquartered, and he focused on the Medication Delivery Solutions (MDS) business from July 2020 to July 2021. Not only has he been able to move around the US, but working within different businesses has been eye-opening too.

“One thing that is different about BD and this development program is that the businesses submit proposals for work and you get to choose your projects based upon your individual interests. They allow us to map our own journey through the rotations, which is very unique for a program like this,” noted Akiva. Prior to the EDP, he also worked as a co-op for a medical device manufacturer in Ohio and as a research assistant at UC Health.

Making an Impact on MedTech Solutions

Today, Akiva is working within the Peripheral Intervention Oncology team focused on the PleurXTM System, which helps patients manage pleural effusions and malignant ascites at home. The system includes a catheter and vacuum bottles that allow patients to drain fluid quickly and effectively.

“It’s really interesting to look back and consider our company’s history and where we are heading with so much research, development, and innovation taking place. It’s amazing to work here and the impact you can have is very exciting and rewarding,” said Akiva. “There is a lot of forward momentum at BD, you can feel it working here.”

Culture, Keys to Success and Belonging at BD

Akiva describes the BD culture as centered on The BD Way, but also collegial and collaborative, helping to build a connection to each other that’s more than surface deep.

“Naturally, The BD Way unites all of us …. I especially love that we help each other be great because I’ve experienced this throughout my rotations whether in Franklin Lakes, San Diego, or here in Vernon Hills – the sentiment is carried throughout the organization. We are all very committed to helping each other,” explained Akiva.

When asked about what he has found are keys to being successful working at the company, he quickly calls out being curious, agile, and flexible and most important – continue learning and expanding your skills.

Akiva also appreciates opportunities to connect with others through the company’s Associate Resource Groups (ARGs) and is a Global Careers Co-Lead for the Out & Proud Employee Network (OPEN) ARG. The OPEN ARG embraces and inspires the LGBTQIA+ community both within and outside of BD through increased visibility, opportunity, development, education, and corporate advocacy.

“I feel like I belong and am accepted for who I am. I love being able to share my story and listen to others and grow my network at BD. I also support the IDE strategy through the R&D Inclusion Council where I get to help build talent pipelines, succession planning, career development and more, which is really fulfilling,” said Akiva.

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