PHI Hosts Three-Day Intensive Course for Future Academic Clinician Educators

Charlestown, MA - Partners HealthCare International (PHI), in collaboration with the Harvard Macy Institute, Boston Children’s Hospital and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, recently hosted its first ever intensive three-day professional development program for postgraduate fellows and residents seeking to enhance their skills and scholarship as future academic clinician-educators. Held at a teaching space generously offered through the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Health Professions (IHP), the competitive program accepted only half of all 95 applicants from across the country and Canada. Of 47 accepted applicants, 13 were Partners-associated residents and fellows.

“My hope for the course when we designed it was that it would be an exciting introduction for residents and fellows to education and principles that wouldn’t be part of their formal clinical training but would give them the basic skills necessary for them to move into an academic-educator job,” said Dr. Susan Farrell, a program director at PHI and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Farrell, who served as a program director for the course, explained the need for this type of program, noting that an adaptation of the 10-day Harvard Macy Educator course held every January could be a costly commitment for many residents who are often on busy clinical schedules. In the summer of 2012, Dr. Farrell and her colleagues administered a needs assessment survey for alumni from the Harvard Macy Institute to determine whether a shorter program would be beneficial.

“Nationally, we didn’t find anything else like this program in terms of focused skills around being a teacher and an educator and supporting an educational project,” Dr. Farrell said.

The program draws on the Harvard Macy Institute model requiring each participant to apply with a medical education project that is of interest to him or her and of benefit to the current or future training program in which he or she works or teaches. Participants also had to identify a faculty mentor at their academic institution who could support them in their endeavors.

 “We chose to build this in given the critical importance of mentorship and guidance in a trainee’s career development. Having the support and commitment of a faculty member at the scholar’s home institution is also critical for project success” noted Dr. Reena Karani, a program director for the course, associate dean for Undergraduate Medical Education and Curricular Affairs and director of the Institute for Medical Education at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

Applicants were selected based on their prior experience, the quality of their chosen project and the letter of recommendation from their mentor. Dr. Elizabeth Armstrong, also a program director for the course and director of the Harvard Macy Institute, emphasized that it is this kind of project-based experiential learning that creates the anchor for more theoretical learning that residents and fellows will encounter.

“It’s a very novel approach in the world of clinical education to design a course like this. What we’re doing is helping to educate the future professoriate in medical education,” said Dr. Armstrong. “Just as universities are spending a lot of time on training professors, this is academic medicine’s attempt to institute a design to help build the clinical educators that we need in healthcare professions.”

To conclude the three days, home mentors were invited to observe and participate in the last day of the course. In fact, it was the first Harvard Macy Institute course that has tried to engage participants’ home mentors, according to Dr. Alan Leichtner, MSHPEd, a program director for the course, associate director of the master’s program in health professions education at the MGH IHP and director of the Academy at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Perhaps the most significant indicator of program success was the level of enthusiasm from both the participants and faculty members that many of the program directors witnessed during and after the program.

Dr. Susanne Roberts, a third year orthopedics resident at Harvard Medical School, said the course reminded her that medical professionals serve as both educators and learners throughout their careers. She found the course invaluable and hopes it will have a significant impact on her surgery training.

Dr. Karani expressed gratitude for the course faculty who graciously gave of their time to teach in the program. “Our interprofessional faculty are role models in medical education and their dedication to this course and to our scholars was remarkable,” she said.

“The trainees that I met in the large group and small group settings seemed inspired by the course – they were impressed by the number of concepts they learned  and  couldn’t wait to apply them to their own educational endeavors at their home institutions,” said Dr. Leichtner.

Dr. Marleen Olde Bekkink, a third year resident in internal medicine from the Netherlands who is completing her Ph.D. in medical education, served as an observer of the course and will follow-up with the participants to determine lasting effects.

 “It’s not just those three days but how it impacts you afterwards as well. I think the program will inspire the residents a lot to collaborate with other participants.” said Dr. Olde Bekkink.

Indeed, the three days are not a one-off, according to Dr. Farrell. In addition to the three day program, scholars will be offered the opportunity to submit their posters to two upcoming events – the Harvard Macy Institute 20th   Anniversary in June and the Harvard Macy Institute poster session through the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in November.

When asked about plans for next winter, Dr. Farrell was optimistic and explained plans were underway for the program to happen again in 2014.

“I hope we’re able to continue to provide a unique opportunity to resident and fellow trainees who are focusing their career as academic-clinician educators,” she said. “That we’re able to draw on the energy of the participants this year and invite them back as junior co-faculty and mentors to their peers in education development.”

“Perhaps the ultimate test of an academic healthcare system is its commitment to workforce development” said Dr. Gilbert H. Mudge, Jr., president of Partners HealthCare International and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “ This was an effort to formalize the education of our future leadership as educators and not just clinicians; we are confident that the energy and expertise created will ultimately address  global healthcare needs. PHI has been proud to support this effort.”



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