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Yale's Medical Education Community Celebrates Its Achievements

June 11, 2019
by Abigail Roth

On May 16, 2019, more than 200 people gathered for the seventh annual Medical Education Day at Yale (Med Ed Day): Enhancing Educator Development, the event’s largest audience to date, demonstrating that Med Ed Day has become an established tradition for Yale’s active and expanding medical education community. Yale School of Medicine’s (YSM) Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) sponsors the day to showcase and celebrate the innovation and excellence of medical education and its scholarship throughout the Yale health professional school community. 

Robert J. Alpern, MD, dean and Ensign Professor of Medicine, launched the day, welcoming the audience in the Anlyan Center’s auditorium. He cited YSM’s decision to create the TLC in 2012, to focus on educator development, assessment, and technology, noting the TLC “matured beyond what any of us expected, which is a credit to many people, but certainly to TLC director Janet Hafler,” EdD, associate dean for educational scholarship. He congratulated all present for “creating this educational community,” which the TLC has helped foster.

Keynote speaker Holly J. Humphrey, MD, MACP, president of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, actively engaged the audience in her talk How the Learning Environment Shapes the Educational Experience for Learners and TeachersImmediately prior to her appointment as Macy’s president in July 2018, Humphrey served for 15 years as the Ralph W. Gerard Professor in Medicine and dean for medical education at the University of Chicago, overseeing undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education. 

Humphrey candidly shared examples of actual problems with the learning environment that she confronted at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, and solicited audience input for ideas on how to best to address each situation. Humphrey then shared what she and her team actually did, why, and the impact of their actions. 

Humphrey closed her remarks with suggestions for improving the learning environment, including that “those in positions of responsibility for learning environments should be committed to continuously evaluating, improving, and conducting research on those learning environments.” The educational scholarship and innovations shared at Med Ed Day demonstrate YSM’s commitment to such efforts.

After the keynote, Hafler introduced the first graduating class from the two-year YSM Master in Health Science Medical Education Pathway degree program (MHS-Med Ed). This new pathway is for YSM faculty, fellows, and residents with MD degrees who have identified medical education as a career focus. Hafler recognized each graduating individual and their department leadership for their support, and shared their thesis topics. 

Interacting in Small Groups

Next on the agenda, Med Ed Day attendees chose between a variety of small group interactive sessions led by Yale faculty. MHS-Med Ed thesis research, educational scholarship, delivery of difficult news, and wellness in medical education were some of the topics covered. The breadth of topics reflects the variety of medical education issues that Yale faculty focus on, and that members of the Yale community are eager to learn more about.

One topic took the approximately 30 attendees furthest from their familiarity zone. Bryan Brown, MD, resident, Catherine Gao, MD, resident, and Sarita Soares, MD, assistant professor, led an introductory session on using video and animation in medical education. They shared information about why animated videos are uniquely suited to teaching medical topics, with Soares highlighting the theory and power behind flipped classrooms. The presenters showed a video they had collaboratively created, demonstrating the ability of animation to illustrate complex topics in an approachable and memorable manner. 

Attendees then broke into small groups, armed with colored pencils and paper, for a character design exercise. Brown offered support that no artistic skills were needed; the participants just needed to be motivated and open-minded. Gao circled the room, encouraging teams to develop meaningful character traits to reflect key teaching points. One group chose fallopian tubes and ectopic pregnancy, anthropomorphized as a friendly snake swallowing a bomb.  Each group developed a storyboard, showing their character doing something that, when viewed in its final video form, would teach learners what the creators wanted to convey. 

After the break-out sessions, Richard Belitsky, MD, Harold W. Jockers Associate Professor of Medical Education, associate professor of psychiatry, and deputy dean for education welcomed attendees back to the final plenary session. He praised Med Ed Day as “a wonderful opportunity to share and celebrate the important and innovative work being done at Yale to advance medical education, including medical education scholarship.” 

Hafler then recognized the graduating class of TLC Medical Education Fellows (MEF), and the department chairs who supported the participants’ engagement in the program. The MEF is another program the TLC established to enable YSM faculty to receive training in effective teaching, curriculum, assessment, and scholarship skills over the course of nine months. Central to the program is that each participant designs an educational project that will be implemented as a graduate or undergraduate medical education program. Hafler noted that after nine years, 127 faculty have graduated from this program, leading to a body of important innovative programs in medical education, including medical education research and scholarship, and creating a supportive community of trained educators.

Spotlight on Research and Innovation

Posters that MEF graduates and other individuals from Yale health professional schools created were the final highlight of Med Ed Day. This year more than 70 posters on medical education research projects or innovations in medical education were selected for display by the Abstract Review Committee, chaired by John Encandela, PhD, TLC associate director of curriculum and educator assessment.

Encandela, who also chaired the poster judging process, enthusiastically described the poster judging day. Peer review teams comprised of students and faculty from the MD, physician associate, and nursing programs, as well as residents and fellows, all participate in the judging process, which in his view is valuable because “people who might not otherwise meet have the opportunity to work together.” Poster award recipients and their topics can be viewed, along with the actual posters, on the TLC website

Many of those in attendance are already looking forward to next year’s Med Ed Day. The date is already set: Thursday, June 4, 2020.

Submitted by Abigail Roth on June 06, 2019