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Medical Education Day Connects Educators From Across Yale's Health Professional Schools

June 01, 2018
by Abigail Roth

What are effective teaching strategies in the presence of patients? How can we learn to combat bias and discrimination in medical education settings? Are there ways to structure Team-Based Learning so that it is both highly interactive and instructive?

These questions reflect some of the topics discussed during eight afternoon breakout sessions that were part of Yale School of Medicine’s (YSM) sixth annual Medical Education Day (Med Ed Day), held on May 16, 2018. Med Ed Day, which YSM’s Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) sponsors, provides learning opportunities about medical education for faculty, residents, fellows, students, and staff from across Yale’s health professional schools. It also celebrates the central role of medical education and its scholarship at YSM.

YSM created the TLC in 2012, after the school’s Strategic Planning Committee for Medical Education recommended promoting excellence in medical education, focusing on educator development, assessment, and technology. Six years later, Med Ed Day spotlights the wide range of issues the TLC focuses on year-round to address the complex challenges facing medical educators.

Robert J. Alpern, MD, dean and Ensign Professor of Medicine, kicked-off Med Ed Day, welcoming a crowded auditorium, noting “the TLC has successfully created a community of Yale educators and clearly demonstrates YSM’s investment in the scholarship of education.”

Edward M. Hundert, MD, dean for medical education at Harvard Medical School (HMS), followed with the keynote “Evolving Concepts in Learner Assessment: Aspiring to Evidence Based Approaches in Medical Education.” He described how HMS’s new and still evolving assessment system tries to combine more detailed, Entrustable Professional Activity-based feedback for students, with a grading system designed to support a learning orientation, rather than a performance orientation, in the entire curriculum. His remarks resonated with the audience: YSM launched a new curriculum in 2015, which the school views as continually evolving based on feedback, and is discussing effective assessment strategies that align with the Yale System.

Attendees had the opportunity to participate in small group interactive sessions, created and led by Yale faculty, choosing among eight topics. For example, some participants practiced applying feedback models in different training situations, while others practiced Team-Based Learning techniques, working on finding the balance between saying too little and risking not providing valuable expertise, and saying too much and turning the class into a more traditional lecture.

Each breakout session provided actionable information, ranging from practical technology tips on using polling software to engage students, to participating in honest conversation about gaining awareness of our own unconscious biases. A session on teaching at the bedside drew a large audience, with participants receiving laminated notecards with flowcharts depicting the opportunities for teaching before, during, and after engagement with patients, to remind them of the ideas presented during the discussion. 

Late afternoon, a plenary session was dedicated to a double celebration of medical education at YSM.  First, 15 participants in YSM’s prestigious nine-month Medical Education Fellowship (MEF) graduated from the program. Each year department chairs nominate faculty members who are strong clinician educators with a focus on scholarship to participate in the MEF. During 18 interactive sessions, the fellows study education literature and discuss principles of learning. The centerpiece of the program is designing an educational project that will be implemented in their department, hospital, or medical school curriculum; the fellows create posters of their projects, which are part of the Med Ed Day poster showcase and award program.

The class of 2018 put the MEF program over the 100 graduates mark, with 113 YSM faculty members now having completed this program. Richard Belitsky, MD, Harold W. Jockers Associate Professor of Medical Education and associate professor of psychiatry and deputy dean for education highlighted how “the fellowship is developing clinical educators who will provide educational leadership in YSM’s departments and across the school.” TLC director Janet Hafler, EdD, associate dean for educational scholarship, who envisioned and launched the MEF program, recognized the many past fellows in attendance, noting the significant contributions they are making to medical education at YSM and beyond, at conferences and through published scholarship. 

Attention then turned to the poster showcase and award program. This year, over 75 poster submissions filled the atrium and other open spaces in The Anlyan Center on the YSM campus. In March, Yale faculty, residents, fellows, students, and staff had the opportunity to submit an abstract about their project in medical education research or innovation in medical education, which could focus on teaching, curriculum, assessment, mentoring or educational leadership. John Encandela, PhD, TLC associate director of curriculum and educator assessment, chaired both the Abstract Review Committee and the poster judging process. After the abstracts were peer reviewed and accepted, a committee of 19 faculty, residents, fellows, and students from across the Yale health professional programs worked in teams to select seven poster award winners and honorable mentions in two categories, Innovation in Education, and Education Research, from among the entries that reflected the wide range of medical education issues being studied at YSM, often with partners from across Yale’s health professional schools and programs. The seven award winning posters may be viewed on the TLC website, along with a link to all the posters presented at the conference. 

Hafler is thrilled with the positive impact the TLC is having, as showcased on Med Ed Day. “We have seen Medical Education Day at Yale evolve into a gathering place for educators from across the many Yale health professions, schools and departments, a safe place to learn and grow in education research and scholarship, and, finally, a time to celebrate the accomplishments of a year’s worth of commitment and hard work. We are proud of our educators, their achievements both at home and nationally; they are sharing their expertise and disseminating their work. This truly is a fulfillment of our vision and beyond what we could have imagined.”

Submitted by Abigail Roth on May 31, 2018