We had a lively discussion during this month’s #HMIChat about disruptive innovation focused on health professions education. We discussed many sustaining innovations as well, and highlighted the difference between the two. For those interested in reading more check out the pre-reading for the chat. Obviously, the @HarvardMacy and #MedEd community at large is eager to innovate, whether it be sustaining or disruptive and quite frankly we need both types!

A few themes worth considering:

  • Simulation: There was a significant amount of discussion related to simulation in medical education and how this can potentially play an expanded role [thanks Komal Bajaj (@KomalBajajMD) and Teresa Chan (@TChanMD)]. A prior blog by Teresa Chan highlights her board game GridlockED about emergency medicine that has the potential to disrupt the way we teach resource allocation, patient safety, and communication. Players must make it through an eight hour shift in the emergency room by working together. As we continue our work in #MedEd, we look forward to more creative ideas related to games that can help tackle difficult problems such as teaching about interprofessional care, difficulty conversations, and giving feedback to learners or faculty.
  • Mentoring: Another idea that came up a few times was the role of mentoring. Larry Hurtubise (@hur2buzy) brought up reverse mentoring. This is a particularly important point that allows mentors to learn from those they are mentoring or reach out to junior people to help them with an area that a more junior person may have expertise in. One might even suggest receiving reverse mentoring on how to use social media (#SoMe) effectively. Many of us Generation X’ers are not as comfortable with Twitter and other #SoMe platforms; a few resources include “The Medical Educator’s Guide to #MedEd” and “Twelve Tips for Using #SoMe as a Medical Educator.” A final point on mentoring was the importance of mentors discussing failures with those they mentor. Interestingly, both of these are somewhat unique takes on mentoring and demonstrate how we should always be considering how we can innovate and improve our existing processes.

Next up, on the #HMIChat was discussion about innovations in #MedEd and what constitutes a disruptive versus sustaining innovation. Coming up with examples that cost less and would be considered an inferior product as compared with industry standards, true disruptive innovations in the Clayton Christensen (@claychristensen) definition, was challenging! Gregg Wells (@Wells_GB) shared a great example of commercial, online lectures displacing content deliverers at each medical school. Justin Kreuter (@KreuterMD) gave some advice on how to protect time at work for creative thinking towards disruptive ideas.

Finally, we considered the idea of regulatory bodies for medical education and how we might engage with them to create opportunities for more disruptive innovations.

We all left wanting to think more about how the Harvard Macy community can support one another and foster partnerships across institutions to engage in this work. We would love to hear ideas from others on how to keep building on this idea.                                                                                                                                                              

What are your next steps to disrupt medical education?

How can the Harvard Macy community help support you?


Author BIOS

Samara Ginzburg, MD (Leaders ‘17) is the Associate Dean for Case-Based Learning at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. She helped create a curriculum and faculty development program for this young medical school that combines disruptive and sustaining innovations in medical education. Her passion is developing and promoting self-regulated learning across the full medical education continuum. You can follow her on Twitter @samara_ginzburg or email her at samara.ginzburg@hofstra.edu


Josh Hartzell, MD, MS-HPEd, FACP, FIDSA (Educators ’15, Leaders ’15, Assessment ‘16) is a United States Army Lieutenant Colonel and currently serves as the Assistant Dean for Faculty Development and Director of Internal Medicine Selectives at the Uniformed Services University – “America’s Medical School.” He is dedicated to developing others’ careers and creating leaders to solve problems related to health care delivery and education. You can follow him on Twitter @joshuadhartzell or email him at Joshua.d.hartzell.mil@mail.mil 


The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private ones of the author and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Department of Defense, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences or any other agency of the U.S. Government.




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