You said . . . We did . . .
Admissions outreach & recruitment
- You said... Students were being over-stretched in assisting with outreach and recruiting events.
We did... We created a paid student ambassador program and currently have two students in this role.* We met with admissions staff to discuss the need to reach out to other administrative staff in medical education for help organizing and running events during admissions season.
*The Office of Admissions has hired three more paid student ambassadors, so we now have five in total. Starting in July and going forward, we will have two to three paid student ambassadors.
Community building & extracurricular activities
- You said... You are satisfied with access to service learning/community service opportunities.
We did...We are pleased you feel positively about your access to service learning and community service opportunities. This is especially important, since increasing mutually constructive engagement with the wider community is an action item in the recently released Strategic Plan for Medical Education.
You currently find out about these opportunities through a number of channels, which is terrific. However we decided it was valuable to also centralize this information, and so added a sublink to the Special Programs & Student Opportunities page on the Medical Education website with information about Community Engagement Opportunities.
We welcome additional suggestions for content at this sublink!
- You said... You want a better understanding of how student activity funds are spent and more autonomy in how to spend student interest group funds, including the ability to buy durable goods.
We did... Below is a list of how student activity fees are used. Dean Francis presented this information to the Medical Student Council (MSC) officers on October 31, and to the full MSC at their December 5, 2022 meeting.
- Student activities fees support:
- Special events such as: White Coat Ceremony; Match Day; and Commencement
- Social events sponsored by individual classes
- Events planned by the Social Committee and the Committee of Well-being of Students
- 70 different student interest groups’ events and activities
- Approved student conference travel through respective interest groups and through the Office of Student Research
- Many aspects of student life including, but not limited to: peer tutoring; Spinelli Lounge; career lunches; residency dinners; Yale-Harvard Game tailgate; Hunger & Homelessness Auction; spring formal; and Grubhub vouchers during COVID
Additionally, we have provided student interest groups with more autonomy in how they spend their funding, including the ability to use their entire funding for food at events if desired and enabling them to purchase a variety of non-electronic durable goods, such as art supplies and sporting equipment. We have identified storage space for such durable goods, which had been a limiting factor in the past. Finally, we want to note that we have not reduced funding for student interest groups; and if a student interest group is concerned that their funding does not meet their budgetary needs, they should reach out to Jill Aulenti in the Office of Student Affairs with a detailed budget request/proposal.
- You said... You wanted to strengthen the community at YSM, including between students, deans, faculty, and staff.
We did... We have planned a series of lunches for groups of about 25 students, organized by class, with me and the Medical Education deans. These provide an opportunity to chat about the new YSM Strategic Plan for Medical Education, the reaccreditation process for our school, and anything else on your mind.
The first-year lunches are happening now. The second-year lunches occurred before the winter break. The third- and fourth-year lunches will take place in March and April, respectively. Stay tuned for details in the months ahead! At these lunches, it has been helpful to hear from a wide range of students about your experiences, concerns, and ideas—and wonderful to just get to know you all more.
We are focused on creating opportunities for more informal chances to interact, such as our cookies and cider get-together last fall. Stay tuned for a late winter/early spring gathering!
Additionally, an important initiative in the strategic plan is to create colleges within the medical school. (See Action 7 in the plan.) The colleges will function as a home base where students can form identity and belonging through connections with classmates and faculty, and will facilitate greater access to mentorship, learning support, coaching, and academic and career advising. Social gatherings, activities, and events will support community building, teamwork, and inclusion as well as collegial discussion, sharing of ideas, and reflection. Stay tuned for more details.
Finally, I welcome ideas for additional ways to improve engagement among students, deans, faculty, and staff.
- You said... You are concerned about occasions where race is being used inappropriately in the curriculum.
We did... At the start of the curriculum in iPro, we set expectations that curricular discussions of race related to mechanisms of disease would focus on race as a social, not biological construct. We recognize that at various times during the pre-clerkship curriculum, race is being presented as a biological construct.
To address this ongoing issue, we are implementing the following steps:
- We are providing lecture and workshop faculty with a toolkit developed at UCSF, Antiracism and Race Literacy - A primer and toolkit for medical educators, to review. We are asking faculty to particularly focus on Step 3 with a framework for addressing issues of race in clinical medicine.
- The Office of Curriculum (OoC) is reviewing the course PowerPoint slides, cases, and notes using keywords to identify references that may be related to race. When found, the lecture or workshop leader will be alerted that they should consider if these references are appropriate, are evidenced-based, and use race as a social not biological or genetic construct.
- We are asking course directors and other course faculty to alert the OoC to any instances of the inappropriate use of race that might have slipped through this review process or occurred as a result of discussions in the classroom.
- We are asking Dr. Beverley Sheares, director of the Health Equity Thread, to assist us in producing a short video that can be used for faculty development to prepare them for discussions of race in relation to the mechanisms and treatment of disease. If successful, this video will be included in the materials that all medical education faculty are required to view and attest to annually.
- We are encouraging students to speak with any of the deans or Health Equity Thread leadership team so that we are able to address issues in the curriculum in real time and prevent future occurrences. Associate Dean for Curriculum Michael Schwartz welcomes students reaching out to him with concerns or additional ideas about how to address these issues.
- You said... You want more equitable access to UWorld to study for USMLE.
We did... Through support from the Yale Alumni Fund, we have enabled all students to receive access to one year of USMLE Step II UWorld Prep without impacting financial aid packages. This includes access to practice shelf exams. We also are providing vouchers for all MS2 pre-clerkship students and students in the ATP to have access to USMLE Step 1 practice exams. This provides an opportunity to consolidate or review material. A recent Curriculum Update provides more details on how to access these resources.
- You said... You have concerns about the adequacy of debt management counseling.
- We did... Our Financial Aid Office has organized workshops and one-on-one debt management sessions for students and also provides resources online. All first and fourth-year students with loans are required to have a one-on-one debt management session. More information about upcoming opportunities —and we welcome suggestions for how we can provide additional support!
- You said... It can be difficult to find research mentors.
We did… We recently created a directory of faculty who have indicated interest in mentoring YSM students, which is available for review in the OSR offices on the second floor of Harkness. Please stop by Monday through Friday (9:00 am – 5:00 pm) to peruse the information, or email OSR (firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule a one-on-one meeting with the associate deans of student research during their weekly office hours (Chaudhry: Wednesdays, 12:00 -1:00 pm; Herzog: Tuesdays, 12:00 -1:00 pm) or at another mutually convenient time. Additionally, detailed information about other ways to find a mentor is on OSR’s website. This includes the online Directory of Faculty Research Interests, which you can search by name, department, key words, or Medical Search Headings (MeSH).
Student safety & learning environment
- You said... You were unsure how the medical school is handling reports of harassment, mistreatment, and bias.
We did... In my January 12, 2023 You Said, We Did newsletter, I shared information about different ways to report mistreatment and what the school does when we receive such reports. We held an in-person Town Hall on the Learning Environment on the evening of March 8 for all interested students. I encourage you to watch the presentations from the Town Hall if you could not attend. Below are a few key points from the discussion.
Number and types of reports: During the Town Hall, I presented data on the number of MD Program harassment, mistreatment, and discrimination reports between 2017 and 2022 during clerkship rotations. As you can see in the video, OB/GYN and Surgery have the greatest number of reports. While some reports describe a student’s experience of being treated harshly by team members, many describe incidents of residents being treated poorly by attendings, bias in the treatment of patients by nurses and other staff, and students being harassed or treated disrespectfully by patients.
The majority of our work on these issues has been within these two departments. The chairs of both OB/GYN and Surgery have engaged the Office of Academic and Professional Developmentto help with individual faculty members, and Yale New Haven Health System is working with us to address potential bias within staff. All departments are now meeting with students regularly to discuss their experiences, and faculty, residents, and fellows have been actively engaged in discussions about how to improve the learning environment in clinical settings.
This work is extremely important and will be ongoing; we are actively working to develop better ways to communicate with students and trainees about how these incidents are being handled and how the learning environment is being monitored to measure improvement. Read more.
- You said... We should clarify the medical school's student mistreatment policy and the processes to report such mistreatment.
We did... Preventing mistreatment, addressing lapses in professionalism, and having a transparent and supportive reporting process is a priority at YSM. We recognize that the process only will be effective, and you only will have confidence in it, if we do a better job providing you information about how and to whom you can share concerns and complaints about mistreatment, professionalism, or bias AND how the school addresses them.
How can you report a concern?
- You can report a professionalism/mistreatment concern in real time, using this link, which we have embedded in five locations on the MD Program webpage, including toward the bottom of the Curriculum homepage. The Office of Academic and Professional Development (OAPD) receives these reports.
- At the end of every curricular experience (course, clerkship, elective), you have the opportunity to complete an evaluation, which includes reporting any mistreatment, harassment, or bias you experienced or observed. Your reports are confidential and anonymous and are not visible to anyone who is evaluating you.
- You may ALWAYS contact your course/clerkship/elective director, advisor, or any medical education dean if you have a concern that you would like to discuss. We will respect your confidentiality and discuss ways to approach or address your concerns.
What happens when you report a concern?
- Reports to OAPD are responded to within two business days. OAPD’s first action will be to set up a time to talk with you about the concern and discuss options on how to respond to the concern, keeping in mind that confidentiality is often an important consideration. While OAPD’s purview is professionalism among YSM faculty, if your concern is not about a faculty member, OAPD staff will work with you to direct your concern to the group that can best address it. This OAPD summary provides additional information on how professionalism concerns are handled at YSM.
- Reports embedded in curricular evaluations are reviewed on a quarterly basis by the Office of Curriculum and OAPD. The responsible department is required to produce an action plan in response to each report. In collaboration with Deputy Dean for Professionalism and Leadership Robert Rohrbaugh, Deputy Dean Illuzzi follows up with the chairs of each department to monitor progress in addressing issues of professionalism and conduct in the learning environment.
Deans Illuzzi and Schwartz are establishing a new Subcommittee of the Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee (EPCC) to regularly review reports of harassment, mistreatment or bias in the learning environment, departments’ responses, and outcomes and to provide recommendations to the EPCC. Students interested in joining this committee should contact Dean Schwartz (Michael.Schwartz@Yale.edu).
Click here for more details on OAPD’s role in promoting faculty professionalism.
- You said... You had concerns about safety, including traffic safety at the York Street and S. Frontage Road intersection.
We did... I want to share several updates and resources:
Safety and Security Committee: Last year, Yale School of Medicine created a Safety and Security Committee. Dean Francis serves on it, as does 5th-year MD student Carmen Pajarillo. The committee, which meets quarterly, welcomes your ideas and feedback on how to improve YSM's safety and security, which you can submit using this Qualtrics survey. The committee also created this webpage listing campus-wide safety and security resources, including the LiveSafe app and an active shooter video.
Blue security phone survey: The Safety and Security Committee recently discussed the blue security phones that are placed in outside locations throughout the Yale University campus. The phones have red emergency buttons for direct connection to the Yale Police Department for police, fire, or medical emergencies.
This map shows the locations of the 500+ existing phones.
Yale Public Safety asked for input on locations on, or even near, campus that would benefit from a blue phone. Please complete this Qualtrics survey asking for your input by Tuesday, February 21. We want to hear your suggestions since so many of you study, work, and live on and near the Yale campus.
South Frontage Road infrastructure improvement plans: We were pleased that the city hosted a public meeting on January 9 about plans to make South Frontage Road, from Howard Avenue to College Street, safer for pedestrians and cyclists through measures such as four raised crossings, narrowing the lanes, adding sidewalks, and adding a separated bike lane. Construction is expected to begin next year. This link from the city includes the Zoom recording of the meeting and a PowerPoint of the plans that were presented.
Vision Zero legislation: House Bill No. 5917, “An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Vision Zero Council,” would enable municipalities in Connecticut to pass legislation to use automated enforcement in specified locations (high crash volumes, school zones, pedestrian safety zones), which would include the York Street and S. Frontage Road intersection, where speeding and red light running is rampant. We are grateful to fourth-year MD student Aishwarya Pillai for testifying passionately at the Transportation Committee hearing on January 30.
If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Abby Roth to learn more about the Yale Traffic Safety Committee.
- You said... You need more timely access to mental health and wellness counseling.
We did... Based on recommendations by the Student Mental Health and Wellness Committee, a new Student Mental Health and Wellness Program was started at YSM in September 2021. The program provides access to one-on-one counseling, group counseling, and numerous activities devoted to student wellness. There currently is a social worker (Director Lisa Ho) and wellness counselor (Sundari Birdsall). A third member, a PhD psychologist, is joining the team soon and will be available to meet students starting in January. We encourage students to use this YSM resource.
The Student Mental Health and Wellness Committee will be sending out a survey to gather student feedback on the new program in order to optimize it even more.
For more information about expanding Yale Health services, please click here.
- You said... You wanted more access to mental health resources.
We did...As we mentioned in an earlier newsletter, based on recommendations by the Student Mental Health and Wellness Committee, a new YSM Student Mental Health and Wellness Program was launched at YSM in September 2021. In January 2023, Clinical Psychologist Kathlene Tracy, PhD, joined the program team, so it is now fully staffed with three members: Lisa Ho, LCSW (program manager), Sundari Birdsall, MSW, MPH (wellness counselor), and Dr. Tracy.
I encourage you to make use of the program’s excellent support services, which include short-term counseling and wellness programming, specifically for YSM students. While this resource is still intended for short-term counseling, we have removed the four-session limit, which we had heard concerns about. We recognize this flexibility is important, for example, to prevent a gap between counseling through this program and accessing longer term care through Yale Mental Health or elsewhere.
The Student Mental Health and Wellness Committee will be sending out a survey to gather student feedback on the YSM Student Mental Health & Wellness Program in order to optimize it even more.
- You said... You were not clear about the roles of the different Medical Education deans and how they could be helpful.
We did... We posted the Medical Education organizational chart on our website to provide a graphic showing their roles. Below are a few additional details, so that you will have a better sense of who to reach out to with a question or concern about a particular topic. We very much welcome hearing from you!
As Deputy Dean for Medical Education, I lead the medical education team and report directly to Dean Brown. Please feel free to reach out if you are unsure about who to contact about a certain concern or if you would like to meet with me directly. My office is on the third floor of Harkness Building D.
Associate Dean for Student Affairs John Francis: Dean Francis oversees a wide range of student issues, including among many others, academic advising and academic progress, student well-being and support, and student events and organizations. His office is on the second floor of Harkness Building D.
Associate Dean for Curriculum Michael Schwartz: Dean Schwartz oversees all things related to the curriculum, from iPro to Capstone. His office is on the third floor of Harkness Building D.
Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid Laura Ment: Many of you met Dean Ment through the admissions process—and/or START@Yale. In addition to admissions, Dean Ment oversees our financial aid operations. Her office is on the second floor of Harkness Building D.
Associate Deans for Student Research Sarwat Chaudhry and Erica Herzog: Deans Chaudhry and Herzog co-lead the Office of Student Research. They have offices on the second floor of Harkness Building D, with the following office hours: Dean Chaudhry: Wednesdays, 12:00-1:00 p.m.; Dean Herzog: Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 p.m. Please reach out to them for questions and support for student research.
Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Janet Hafler: Dean Hafler oversees Continuing Medical Education and support of faculty educators through the work of the Teaching and Learning Center. Her office is on the second floor of Harkness Building A.
Assistant Dean for Education Jaideep Talwalkar: Many of you know Dean Talwalkar through his role leading Clinical Skills (CS). He still oversees CS, but now also helps with projects such as implementation of our Medical Education Strategic Plan and preparation for our upcoming LCME reaccreditation visit.
Deputy Dean for Professionalism and Leadership and Associate Dean for Global Health Education Bob Rohrbaugh: Dean Rohrbaugh is part of Medical Education because of his global health education role. However, through his other role, he is engaged with professionalism concerns you raise either by reporting them online, in a course evaluation, or directly to someone in medical education leadership.
Cushing Whitney Medical Library Director John Gallagher: Director Gallagher welcomes hearing any concerns about or ideas for the medical library.
- You said... The internet is not working well or consistently in the Harkness Building.
- We did... We have scheduled network upgrades for Harkness D (the building with Café Med and the dorms) on the nights of Tuesday, March 28 and Wednesday March 29 (6:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.). This is part of Yale’s Next Generation Network (NGN) transition project to upgrade network cables, wires, and ports to provide better, faster internet service to the buildings. There may be spotty internet access in the buildings the nights the work is being done, but it will be great to have improved internet when the upgrade is complete!
- You said... You need more places to relax on campus.
We did... We worked with the Medical Student Council (MSC) to improve Spinelli Lounge including: purchasing a new ping pong table, a full-sized refrigerator, and two microwaves; adding a coffee station and a water station; replacing all the furniture, including the rug; painting the room; and adding more outlets and computer tables for comfortable studying. We are working with vendors to get Zoom Room installed, which will allow you to have Zoom meetings in the room, as well as wirelessly share content from your iPads for student group meetings or just to stream movies to the TV. This is the same set-up as the Beaumont Room.
Additionally, Dean Illuzzi took the YSM facilities and design team on a tour of student spaces, including the mezzanine, gym, Spinelli Lounge, and additional spaces in Café Med. They are preparing a rendering of proposed renovations for students to view and provide feedback!
- You said... You need places to store and secure belongings on campus and at YNHH.
We did... We identified 120 lockers at the Sterling Hall of Medicine for MS1 and MS2 students, located beneath the Rotunda, and created a sign-up system to be assigned to one of these lockers. Everyone who requests a locker will receive a combination lock.
Lockers also are available for students during YNHH Clerkships and the ATP. These lockers are on the third-floor connector between YNHH and the Hunter Building, near surgery, SP3 Bypass Corridor. We currently are working with the other hospitals to identify more places to store belongings at other sites.
A recent Curriculum Update has details about how MS1, MS2, and ATP students can request these lockers.
Additionally, there are lockers in TAC, outside the second floor labs, which are provided for MS1s to use for labs. A recent Curriculum Update discussed how MS1s get one of these TAC lockers.
- You said... You needed more private spaces on campus to conduct interviews or other important calls.
We did... Two rooms in the Admissions Office area on the second floor of Harkness are now available for you to use for interviews or other important calls. If you want to reserve one, please contact Deanna Calvert.
Additionally, the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library installed a privacy pod (a Zenbooth Solo) on a trial basis in the Morse Reading Room. The privacy pod has sound dampening acoustics that prevent conversations inside the booth from being heard outside, and vice versa. The Zenbooth can be used for personal phone calls or Zoom meetings on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you’ve used the privacy pod, the library is interested in hearing your feedback (positive or negative). Your input will help inform whether additional privacy pods might be acquired for the library. We also are considering putting one in Café Med if there is interest!
If you need a refresher on Office of Student Affair’s practical tips to boost your home internet and to create space for interviewing at home, you can access this information at this link.
- You said... The eight ball is missing from the pool table in the mezzanine.
We did... We purchased a replacement eight ball, so that people can enjoy a complete game of pool. Although we recognize that this space and the pool table is sorely in need of an update!
Again, I look forward to your questions or feedback.
- You said... Summer heat made living and sleeping in the Harkness Dormitory very difficult.
We did... Over the summer, we worked with Yale Housing to install air conditioning units in every room, other than on the 4th floor, which already had air conditioning. A total of 151 units were installed.