Faculty Works to Expand Interprofessional Education
Since its inception in 1994, the Harvard Macy Institute of Harvard Medical School has trained over 2,000 healthcare educators worldwide, through this highly regarded continuing education program offered annually. This year faculty from the California School of Podiatric Medicine (CSPM), Cherri Choate, DPM Director of Curriculum Development and Eric Stamps, DPM Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, were accepted to take part in the training.
The objective of the program is to develop the strategies and skills required to lead organizational change and drive innovation in healthcare education. "The Harvard Macy Institute works to inspire and promote change in all areas of health science education by facilitating cross-fertilization of ideas among healthcare educators," explains Dr. Choate.
The three-week intensive course began in early January in the dead of winter in Massachusetts on the Harvard campus. By the time Drs. Stamps and Choate returned to Samuel Merritt University (SMU), they quickly began applying some of the principals they learned at the Institution. To recall good Harvard principles, Dr. Stamps posted the notable learning concepts near his computer:
- Employ transformative learning
- Activate prior knowledge
- Learn in context
- Increase the emotionality of learners
- Model appropriate behaviors
"It was transformative for me. I know if we start applying these principals we learned it will absolutely improve the education here," said Dr. Stamps.
As part of the program, all scholars were asked to design an educational research project that they felt would lead to improvement of medical education or healthcare delivery.
Dr. Choate focused on the concept on critical thinking. The purpose of the project was to identify the attitudes regarding critical thinking and learn how faculty thought it was best to teach and assess critical thinking. After completing a focus group with CSPM faculty, Dr. Choate conducted a survey of an international body of healthcare faculty to gain their perspectives and therefore establish some fundamentals regarding critical thinking in medical education.
"The questions will be sent to a faculty group worldwide to gain perspective from faculty who teach at all levels of healthcare education in order to get a much clearer picture on how faculty think about critical thinking," said Dr. Choate. "Once the data is collected and analyzed I will start applying it to 'how to teach it' and 'assess it.' Critical thinking is a core competency not only at SMU, but in most medical institutions."
Dr. Stamps was inspired on another SMU core learning competency, "compassion and caring, physician empathy." For the past several months he has been studying how empathy is measured and how it can be taught through the use of simulation. The objective is to communicate appropriately with empathy.
"If you don't empathize with your patient it's hard to care for the patient," said Dr. Stamps. "This is beyond my normal scope, so I am stretching myself to become better educated about empathy. It's enlightening and feels good to expand in a direction that I previously didn't explore."
Research shows empathy declines with medical education, nursing in particular. Dr. Stamps is currently measuring empathy in the students and will see if it does decline. "I plan to incorporate empathy training in simulation by recording and observing empathetic and non-empathetic behaviors. It will then be brought to the attention of the students in debriefing. The goal is to see if empathic behavior improves with feedback."
According to Dr. Stamps, the goal is to show that with intervention, learning empathetic behavior can improve over time. "It will help our students in the real world because if you want the patient to follow your treatment and recommendations, then they have to feel that you have their best interest at heart and are connecting with them."
Both faculty continue to consult with their Harvard Macy cohort. "It's really an international affair. One scholar is from Scotland, another is associated with Brown, someone is from the Medical Center in Long Island, Argentina, and another colleague is in Pennsylvania," said Dr. Stamps. "They have all helped me approach it in different ways and feedback and structure it appropriately."
Those who have participated in the Institute's programs have developed into an international alumni community committed to a lively ongoing dialogue on healthcare education reform and innovation. Dr. John Venson, Dean of CSPM, has also completed the Harvard Macy Institute training program. He has been invited to return to Harvard as a faculty scholar.
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