Faculty development takes center stage for Medicine’s education summit

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erin_synder_webHer ID badge says “assistant professor of General Internal Medicine.” But Erin Snyder, M.D., believes it should have another title — teacher.

“Being a physician means being a teacher,” Snyder says. “Whether I’m in a big university setting surrounded by all kinds of learners or in private practice in rural Alabama, I’m a teacher for my patients.”

Developing these teaching skills is essential for physicians, Snyder says, and faculty from UAB and campuses in Huntsville, Tuscaloosa and Montgomery will have the opportunity to learn the latest teaching methods this September during the second Faculty Development Education Summit.

The summit will be part of Research and Innovations in Medical Education (RIME) Week, presented Sept. 24-28 by the University of Alabama School of Medicine. Its goal is to promote teaching skills, foster curriculum innovation and showcase scholarship and research findings in medical education for the 21st century. RIME Week, funded in part by a Health System Foundation General Endowment Fund grant, also is part of UAB’s AMC21 efforts, UAB Medicine’s strategic plan to become the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century. RIME Week also aligns perfectly with the new Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which regulates post-medical school education at UAB.

UAB researchers have explored ways clinician educators can improve their teaching skills for more than 10 years and presented this information around the country. Gustavo Heudebert, M.D., vice chair of education and faculty development in the Department of Medicine, and Carlos Estrada, M.D., professor and director of General Internal Medicine, led a team that created a program to share this information internally. The result was a successful one-day Education Summit Sept. 23, 2011.

Cooke to examine challenges facing medical education

Molly Cooke, M.D., professor of clinical medicine and the William G. Irwin Endowed Chair at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, will present Medicine’s Grand Rounds during Research and Innovations in Medical Education Week.

Cooke was the lead author on the article “American Medical Education 100 Years After the Flexner Report,” published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The article summarized the set of challenges facing medical education and physicians-in-training, and called for fundamental redesign of the content of medical training in the United States.

The Flexner Report was the first critical evaluation of medical schools in the United States in the 1880s, and it led to standardized medical education in the United States.

“Molly Cooke is one of the primary people to update that model in the past few years,” says Erin Snyder, M.D., assistant professor of General Internal Medicine. “It’s a fresh look at medical education for the 21st century, and she will add critical information to the summit.”

This year’s summit will pack a variety of teaching tools and methodology into a week of events that will include Medicine’s Grand Rounds, a poster session of innovations and clinical vignettes, simulation experiences and other medical education workshops.

“We’re hoping this appeals to people all across the School of Medicine,” Snyder says. “There are many different things to teach now than there were 20 years ago, and we have to devise different ways to teach them. The students are different, too. We’re learning more about how adults like to learn and get the most out of an educational session. Activities that are very hands-on seem to be important, and we have the ability to teach that way at UAB.”

Specifically, simulation has risen to the forefront as a key educational method, and simulation centers at UAB and Children’s Hospital will be showcased.

Clinicians also will submit innovations in medical education posters from across the School of Medicine that highlight recent investigative work. The posters all are geared toward teaching.

“It’s all about education — medical students, residents or graduate students,” Snyder says. “We’re trying to highlight work already under way and hopefully find some collaborations and new projects that can grow out of that.”

Emphasis on academic research

These types of quality educational opportunities for clinicians often aren’t available within many academic health centers, primarily because educational research typically is not funded, which makes studying the best practices a struggle.

UAB has invested in this research, which has enabled the school to attract bright, fresh minds into academic medicine with medical education as a focus of their career.

“It’s incumbent upon medical schools to make it a priority to make top-notch educators out of their faculty, and it’s something academic medical centers are struggling with all across the country,” Snyder says. “Faculty development in medical schools is a hot topic for accreditation boards. We’re trying to do more for faculty development for medical school educators here at UAB, and we want this to become even more important in the future. We would love to become a medical education academy — like the ones at Harvard, University of Colorado or at McGill University in Montreal — where people can learn to teach.”