New Medical Device Packaging Course a Hit

In the last two years, about 100 “students” have learned the Fundamentals of Medical Device Packaging and are putting the knowledge to good use.

Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor

May 9, 2024

5 Min Read
MDPTC - IoPP Fundamentals of Medical Device Packaging course
Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee (MDPTC) of Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP)

At a Glance

  • Packaging professionals at various career stages — new, junior, tenured — can benefit from the knowledge.
  • On-site show floor demos complement the classroom sessions.
  • Students can build their network of helpful colleagues that will pay dividends throughout their career.

Packaging for medical devices might not be “sexy” like some consumer packaged products — but it does help save lives. When done correctly, of course.

With so much changing and improving in packaging all the time, though, continuing education is critical to help you stay on top of the shifts.

About two years ago, the Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee (MDPTC) of the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) created a curriculum related specifically to the regulated market of medical devices.

The course, Fundamentals of Medical Device Packaging, debuted at Pack Expo 2022. It sold out.

Since then, MDPTC / IoPP moved the course from a general packaging machinery show (Pack Expo) to a vertical show for medical device manufacturers (MDMs) at MD&M West. MD&M West is one of six shows at IME West, which is owned and organized by Informa Markets – Engineering (disclaimer: Packaging Digest is also owned by IME). The IME West mega-event consists of WestPack, MD&M West, Plastec West, D&M West (design and manufacturing), ATX West (automation), and the new Sustainable Manufacturing Expo.

Fundamentals of Medical Device Packaging was held at MD&M West in February 2023 and February 2024 — both also sold out.

Jim George, IoPP Director of Education, tells us why the class has been so successful. “Fundamentals of Medical Device Packaging has been a success because it fills a huge education void in this industry segment,” George explains. “There are med device conferences, but not formal face-to-face classroom instruction.”

Benefits of experience.

Not only does the course teach the basics of medical device packaging, but the knowledge and training are coming from instructors who are seasoned industry professionals — many are members of IoPP’s Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee, which founded, developed, and operates the course in partnership with IoPP, who manages logistics for MDPTC and the course.

Jennifer Benolken, current chair of MDPTC and MDM & Regulatory Representative for DuPont Tyvek Healthcare Packaging, shared that the course was originally developed when she recognized that there was no reliable source of education for junior packaging professionals or new entrants. And often, there weren’t even manufacturing sites close within their organizations for those engineers to learn about how packaging is processed through manufacturing, potentially setting those engineers up for failure.

“… attendees to not only learn the content, but also meet instructors and classmates that they can call on when they come across something challenging …”

Through involvement of leading professionals across the industry, attendees of the course are exposed to the major facets of what a medical device packaging engineer will face day-to-day in executing their jobs. “The way the course was developed and is delivered,” Benolken says, “allows attendees to not only learn the content, but also meet instructors and classmates that they can call on when they come across something challenging as they venture back into their roles within their organizations.”

The course is designed for medical people who are new to packaging or for packaging people who are new to medical, but many tenured professionals have found worth in attending the course, as well.


The immersive education quickly gets pupils up to speed on the essentials … like what materials are used for sterile barrier packaging, for example. And how to qualify equipment and validate processes. You also learn about CAPA (Corrective and Preventive Actions), risk analysis, troubleshooting, and remediation strategies.

Not just all talk, talk, talk. Some walk, look, ask.

The course is spread over three half-day sessions, with classroom learning and show-floor demonstrations. George says, “We take each class onto the show floor for hands-on sessions at several participating exhibitor booths, to enhance what they’ve learned in the classroom.” Hands-on learning is the best for knowledge retention.

After three sold-out classes, will IoPP increase the class size for 2025?

No. The organization has “thoughtfully” capped the class at 36 students, for two reasons:

“We’ve found over the years that quality learning begins to become jeopardized when a formal classroom is bigger than that. Interaction is harder and a sense of intimacy that inspires learning begins to be lost,” says George. “Also, it’s difficult and inefficient to bring very large groups of students onto the exhibit floor at a trade show for the hands-on sessions at the booths.”

Hands-on learning also pays CPE credits.

There’s another benefit, beyond acquiring useful knowledge, for taking the course: Attending all days and gaining your Certificate of Completion earns you 11 continuing professional education (CPE) credits that you can apply toward your Certified Packaging Professional (CPP) requirements.


“IoPP and the MDPTC are answering a significant need in training the next generation of medical device packaging professionals,” says George. “Previously, those new to medical device packaging usually had to learn on their own, where they could. If they were lucky, they could occasionally find someone in their company who could mentor them a bit, but often these people are too busy to have much time for it. Unfortunately, the results too often were people in the medical device area that had significant gaps in their packaging knowledge and in some cases an incorrect understanding of concepts and strategies. This course builds them a solid foundation.”

What's next?

What will IoPP do to improve on the success of this course?

“It’s a great opportunity for the students to network with the influencers in medical device packaging.”

“As for the course’s future, we made enhancements beginning with this year’s class experience that included a happy hour — organized and led by the MDPTC — so the students and MDPTC members can interact,” says George. “It’s a great opportunity for the students to network with the influencers in medical device packaging. Going forward, we’re working on a plan to rotate instructors so we keep the content and the instruction fresh.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Fundamentals of Medical Device Packaging or attending the next class, reach out to Jim George at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

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