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Yale Health Professional School Educators Share Medical Education Innovations and Research at Annual Med Ed Day

June 22, 2021
by Abigail Roth

“How can we uphold and help the Yale System be strong and move forward into the next decade?” Yale School of Medicine (YSM) Deputy Dean for Education, Jessica Illuzzi, MD, MS, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, asked this question during her keynote remarks at the ninth annual Medical Education Day at Yale (Med Ed Day). YSM’s Teaching and Learning Center sponsors the conference, and this year over 250 faculty, staff, students, and alumni from across Yale’s health professional schools registered to participate. The June 3 event was virtual because of COVID-19 restrictions.

In addition to Illuzzi’s keynote, the day included workshops and presentations, as well as a virtual online poster session. TLC Director and Associate Dean for Educational Scholarship, Janet Hafler, EdD, reflected on the day stating, “the Teaching and Learning Center is an academic home for educators and Medical Education Day at Yale is an opportunity for us to share our scholarly work, innovations, and research.”

Medical Education in 2021: Building on Our Successes

Illuzzi used her first Med Ed Day since becoming deputy dean in January 2021 to discuss the “living document” of priorities for medical education that she created after conversations with many members of the YSM medical education community. The priorities provide opportunities to support the Yale System “at its best,” such as embracing self-directed learning stimulated by curiosity, while addressing current challenges, such as student disengagement, which impacts faculty engagement.

Illuzzi identified priorities to guide educational strategic planning and provided examples of successes that she plans to build upon. For example, Illuzzi framed the priority of “developing innovative approaches to medical education that are irrevocably engaging and compelling, enhanced by increased use of simulation and evolving technologies and resources,” by noting students are becoming more tech savvy and current curricula often do not use newer modes of pedagogy that promote student engagement. She highlighted efforts of Yale faculty and staff to incorporate technology, such as virtual reality, into anatomy, providing students with new ways to study and practice. Illuzzi emphasized, “we need a curriculum and pedagogy that provides a framework, a platform for students to jump off from,” adding that “we need to listen to the students and what is working for this generation of students.”

Several of the priorities Illuzzi identified address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), connecting to workshop themes later in the day. These priorities include increasing health equity content; supporting, coaching, and mentoring our trainees recognizing their diverse backgrounds and needs; increasing and supporting diversity; increasing engagement with the community; and creating an inclusive and affirming environment.

During her keynote, Illuzzi described a process for YSM community conversations around these priorities, leading to a fall strategic planning process.

The Role of Education in Advancing DEI

Three of the day’s workshops focused on DEI, providing opportunities to discuss work already being done, identify challenges, and share ideas for addressing challenges and expanding current efforts, which is critical to strengthening medical education at YSM.

In DEI Fireside Chat: Perspectives of Department Chief Diversity Officers, Deputy Dean Darin Latimore, MD, who moderated the conversation, asked the panelists how education can support DEI efforts. Cindy Crusto, PhD, professor of psychiatry, deputy chair for diversity, equity and inclusion, Department of Psychiatry; Mayur Desai PhD, MPH, associate professor of epidemiology, associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion, YSPH; Inginia Genao, MD, associate professor of medicine, associate chair for diversity and inclusion; GME director for diversity, equity, and inclusion, Internal Medicine; and Marietta Vazquez, MD, professor of pediatrics, associate dean for medical student diversity, participated as panelists.

Vazquez emphasized education and training on DEI issues is crucial, sharing that several years ago the Department of Pediatrics committed to requiring the entire department to be trained on topics such as unconscious bias, microaggressions, and antiracism. She said commitment from leaders, collaboration, and communicating about the issues have been key to their progress. While discrimination reports have increased, as expected, she believes that is a positive reflection on their efforts and groundbreaking initiative.

We need to listen to the students and what is working for this generation of students.

Jessica Illuzzi, MD, MS, deputy dean for education and professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences

The School of Public Health is further behind on systemic training, Desai said. However, they are focused on determining what training is needed, for whom, and how often, and what resources to tap for the training.

Crusto emphasized systems change and the need to understand and shift the conditions that hold DEI-related challenges in place. She stressed the need to understand the context and environment and ways in which deeply ingrained policies, practices, and mental representations (e.g., narrow definitions of excellence) undermine DEI and anti-racism efforts.

Genao described how national events around race have been “catalysts” for the DEI work that needs to be done at YSM. With more people interested in helping and making changes happen, she is eager to “take advantage of this energy.”

The two other DEI-themed workshops were: Awareness of Bias in Assessment and Ways of Addressing It and Operationalizing Health Equity in Teaching.

Sharing Scholarly Work, Innovations, and Research

Additional workshops and the virtual poster session provided opportunities for many members of the Yale health professional schools community to share their scholarly work on an education research project or educational innovation. In the Oral Presentations workshop, students, faculty, and staff engaged with participants about their research on topics ranging from Leveraging Interprofessional Collaboration to Refresh a Longitudinal Research Skills Curriculum to Thriving in Residency –A Qualitative Study.

Additionally, six MHS-Medical Education Pathway Degree Program graduates presented on their thesis topics. Participants could select three presentations to attend in Zoom breakout rounds to hear about topics ranging from Assessment of Feedback Culture Experienced by Trainees in the Department of Pediatrics Yale School of Medicine to Teaching Psychiatry Residents to Understand and Respond to Oppression Through the Development of the Human Experience Track.

Continuing an innovation from last year, the traditional in-person poster session was converted into an interactive, multi-day online session, showcasing 71 posters. Members of the health professional school community could access the posters, comment or ask questions online, and receive responses from the poster authors.

Submitted by Abigail Roth on June 21, 2021