Prior to March 2011, I’d never been to Boston.  Here in January 2016, I’ve long since lost count of how many trips I’ve been fortunate to take to Boston.  And all of them either to attend a Harvard Macy course (all four now!), work on my (now completed!) MS in Health Professions Education, or to serve as a Returning Scholar in the Educator’s course. 

I remember early on in my HMI experience, being somewhat surprised at the number of Returning Scholars who come back year-after-year to contribute to the next course.  It did not take long for me to discover why.  A classmate from my Educators 2012 course described it best I think… as “finding my tribe”.  Even in the relatively small world of academic physicians, there is something fundamentally different about the smaller cadre of medical educators that collect around Liz Armstrong and the amazing HMI faculty.  And who knew that the “rock stars” and legends of medical education would turn out to be such genuinely nice, friendly and welcoming people? But back to that fundamental difference I mentioned… like many before me, and many who will come in the future, I found myself no longer content with “just” learning new skills to improve my teaching and the programs to which I contribute.  I developed an intense interest in unpacking the whole educational process… taking it apart, seeing not just what does/doesn’t work but WHY… and to begin working on how to put it back together in a hopefully better way.  The “why” is fascinating.

I was thrilled to be invited as a Returning Scholar, and I come back every year to reconnect with friends and colleagues and to meet and welcome new members of the tribe.  I now count among my friends many other people who are passionate about medical education, and improving it, from coast to coast.  I’ve kept in touch with many from my own 2012 Educator’s course, taught with them in other places, invited them to teach at my school, advised on projects or sought advice on projects, and even “cold called” another member of the HMI community who I’d never met but found in the alumni directory and thought could help.  And she did, enthusiastically, at the first mention of our HMI connection. 

I come back because I still learn a ridiculous amount of stuff!  Every! Single! Time!  And because it is just so much fun to work with people who are only a few years behind me on this journey and so excited about it.  The first two days of the course contain some of my own favorite stuff.  Some highlights from 2016 for me so far…


1.  Kolb has now updated the classic 4-quadrant diagram we all know (and love).  I had seen this many, many times before Liz explained it in 2012 in a way I could FINALLY understand… and now it has NINE buckets?!  While a bit anxiety-inducing, I am excited to begin unpacking that in a quite space (being solidly a Quadrant 2 person) and understanding this further detailed model.  I’ve used the “old” 4-quadrant model so extensively in my teaching since 2012 that I’m excited and intrigued to learn more.

2. Tom Aretz led us through an orientation to global health systems,and began to ask us to look at how professed values underlying our institutions do or don’t transfer into our operating principles.  Stay tuned for how this relates to the “hidden curriculum”!

3. Bob Kegan and Liz Gaufberg focused us on our assumptions about teaching and learning, “looking at our seeing” and developing the skills required to do that successfully. 

4. Holly Gooding’s Cognitive Sciences thread is one of the newer additions to the course and one of my personal great interests.  This really gets to the heart of my compulsion to take things apart and figure out the WHY of what does or doesn’t work in a teaching/learning environment. 

5. Project Group… the “home room” of the Educator course.  Often the birthplace of enduring relationships that grow from the HMI experience. 

6. And lastly, Curtis Whitehair’s ever-popular Digital Learner session, aspiring to help us understand how our learners think and behave.  I think Liz gives Curt the last session of the day because she knows he’ll keep the energy level high for a great wrap-up!

Wow!  How fortunate we all are to have this space and community in which to learn and grow.  This is the good stuff. This community of scholars makes a difference in medical education every single day.  I’m excited to see what we’ll accomplish over the coming years.  And as long as Liz lets me keep coming back, I’m going to immerse myself in quite a bit of it right here from inside HMI!



Lisa Nash, DO

Dr. Nash is a board certified family physician and has served as Associate Dean for Educational Programs at UNTHSC Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine From 2010 to the present.  She completed her Master of Science in Health Professions Education at Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for the Health Professions in 2013.  Dr. Nash spent four years in rural private practice before entering academic medicine in 1998.  From 1998 to the present, she has been engaged in a variety of roles and responsibilities related to teaching, faculty development and graduate medical education administration and accreditation.