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Yale Health Professional Schools Gather Virtually for Annual Med Ed Day Conference

June 16, 2020
by Abigail Roth

“Cool project Sara! Is this a resource I could share with my residents somehow?,” remarked Ryan Coughlin, MD, assistant professor in emergency medicine; assistant residency program director, Emergency Medicine.

“Ideally, yes! We are looking to expand the diagnoses featured and make available in some way to trainees outside our dept. Thanks for your feedback!,” responded Sara Perkins, MD, assistant professor of dermatology.

Coughlin was commenting on a poster, Designing an Interactive, Application-Based Companion Curriculum for the Medical Student Inpatient Dermatology Rotation, that Perkins and Alex Moushey, a rising third-year Yale School of Medicine (YSM) MD student, submitted for the YSM Medical Education Day at Yale virtual poster session.

Because of COVID-19, the YSM Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) converted its annual Med Ed Day conference to a virtual format. The day showcases and celebrates the innovation and excellence of medical education and its research and scholarship throughout the Yale health professional school community.

In the past, Med Ed Day has ended with a poster session in The Anlyan Center, with attendees engaging with authors stationed near their posters. This year, the session was transformed into an asynchronous nine-day opportunity where participants could review 74 posters online and engage in dialogue with the authors through an online comment feature. Posters were submitted from all the health professional schools and programs: MD, Physician Associate (PA), Physician Assistant Online (PA Online), Nursing, and Public Health, as well as a few other Yale affiliates. Graduates in the TLC’s Medical Education Fellowship created 13 of the posters based on their work during the year-long program.

A record 340 members of Yale’s health professional community registered to participate in the synchronous portion of Med Ed Day, held on June 4. This included students, alumni, residents, interns, faculty and staff from across Yale’s health professional schools and programs.

Acknowledging this time in history, TLC Director and Associate Dean for Educational Scholarship Janet Hafler, EdD, began the day by asking everyone to pause and silently reflect on “how we can come together as a strong education community to make a difference for real change,” to address the structural racism that has led to the disparate impact of COVID-19 and police brutality on communities of color in the United States.

Hafler then introduced Nancy Brown, MD, Jean and David W. Wallace Dean and C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine, who was participating in her first Med Ed Day at Yale. Brown, as Hafler had done in her introductory remarks, recognized soon-to-be-retiring Deputy Dean for Medical Education Richard Belitsky, MD, stating “his will be very hard shoes to fill.” Looking forward, she discussed updating the 2010 strategic plan for medical education, noting YSM is also redoing its mission statement, which will provide context for the strategic plan. Brown pointed out that equity and social justice are absent from the current mission statement and emphasized that COVID-19 has demonstrated how critical these values are to medicine and public health.

After Brown’s presentation, participants could choose from numerous workshops and oral presentations on a broad range of topics, created and led by members of the Yale health professional community.

One option consisted of four brief oral presentations on different topics, followed by audience questions. In one of these presentations, Wellbeing PArtners: An Analysis of Trends in PA Depression Risk at Various Stages of Training, Stephanie Neary, MPA, MMS, PA-C, described a study she is working on with Mary Ruggeri, MEd, PA-S3, and Chris Roman, MA, MMS, PA-C. They are investigating if PA students have similar rates of depression to medical providers and medical students, how student well-being changes throughout training, and if it is possible to not only mitigate depression during training, but also increase well-being through evidence-based approaches.

One finding was a concerning shift in tone from statements the students made during Orientation, such as worrying about “making time for my friends” and “adjusting my schedule,” to six months later making remarks such as “feeling like I don’t belong” and noting “the impact on my marriage.”

Neary, Ruggeri, and Roman hope to counter this negative trend. They have created a website for students with topics such as creating balance, resilience, and coping, and are working to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, in part through faculty being open about their own challenges. Moreover, they are developing a pilot for a well-being course that will be integrated throughout the Yale PA Online and Butler University PA curricula. In her remarks, Neary emphasized integration demonstrates that faculty believe well-being is a critical part of students’ education.

For the creators of the Making the Invisible Visible: Exploring Bias through Art, (rising fifth-year MD student Zoe Adams '22; Nientara Anderson MD-MHS ’20; MD-PhD student Sydney Green; Assistant Professor Kenneth Morford, MD; and Professor Anna Reisman, MD), Zoom breakout rooms enabled them to create a highly-interactive session. Their session was based on a course that YSM alumnus Robert Rock, MD ’18 created using art at the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale Center for British Art.

Participants were divided into two breakout rooms, where moderators thoughtfully led them through a five-step exercise with two paintings: one from the Yale University Art Gallery, and the other from the Yale Center for British Art. The five-steps of the exercise were observation, interpretation, determining the artist’s intent, learning the historical context, and exploring the relationship to medicine. This led to discussions of cultural biases as participants tried to discern the artists' intentions, and then consider how the biases embedded in Western culture impact medical practice and the health care system, focusing on issues such as assumptions, power, class, and who controls narratives.

The day’s final synchronous session, Online Learning: Lessons Learned and Future Directions, provided Michael Schwartz PhD, associate dean for curriculum, an opportunity to highlight the “amazing effort of the Office of Education staff,” who trained over 200 faculty to quickly and successfully shift to a virtual curriculum in response to COVID-19. Schwartz, Gary Leydon, associate director for education technology, YSM Teaching and Learning Center, and Peter Takizawa PhD, co-director of integrated courses, then provided practical lessons learned and advice about teaching and learning on Zoom, from encouraging people to practice before using breakout rooms, to where to find Zoom learning guides.

The TLC’s successful switch from its traditionally in-person conference to a virtual format is one example of how it is meeting the needs of the education community during this time of great disruption.

Here is a link to the day’s complete agenda.

Submitted by Abigail Roth on June 16, 2020