As I skimmed through the Harvard Macy Program for Post-Graduate Trainees: Future Academic Clinician-Educators course materials, I became even more excited for the three-day deep dive into medical education – a rare opportunity to take a break from patient care and focus completely on developing as a clinician-educator. As I read the session titles, I eagerly downloaded the pre-reading for “Effective Feedback and a Feedback Alliance” and “Drawing Parallels: Education and Leadership.” Reflecting on my most recent rotation as Ward Senior and preparing for a year as Chief Resident, I was ready to learn new skills and refine my practices in these areas. However, not every session inspired such enthusiasm. In fact, as I looked at the afternoon of the second day, a pit formed in my stomach. “Micro-teaching? Oh no. What have I signed up for,” I feared.
Very much an introvert disguised as an extrovert who hates to be the center of attention, I was already intimidated. I read more about the format of the session. In small groups, each participant presents a 10-minute, segment to the group that the group also records for the teacher to watch. Then, while the teacher watches the recording, their teammates separately discuss the presentation and how the teacher achieved his or her teaching and learning goals. Finally, the teacher and the group reconvene and share reflections. Only slightly reassured by the “small groups” and “10-minute” sessions, the butterflies persisted.
The Harvard Macy course began and I was soon pleasantly distracted by the thoughtful sessions on teaching and learning perspectives, the stimulating conversations at journal club discussions, and the incredible exchange of ideas in the project groups. However, I remained apprehensive for the micro-teaching session. As we split into our micro-teaching groups, my nervousness abated slightly while chatting with my groupmates who were all friendly, kind, and a little nervous too.
No stranger to anxiety in the face of presentations, I pulled out my trusty now-you-can’t-chicken-out tool: volunteering to go first! I shared my teaching goals with my group and taught a segment of a talk I give to the pediatric interns on lactation counseling for the general pediatrician. The ten minutes were soon over, and I stepped into the hallway to watch the segment that my peers had recorded for me. Wondering, of course, “Do I really sound like that,” I watched myself, with my teaching goals in mind, and had many reflections and ideas about how I could improve.
I reconvened with my group and received the most thoughtful and actionable feedback I have ever received about teaching. I have thought about this feedback during every session I have taught since the course. An exercise that I feared could be embarrassing was actually incredibly empowering. My groupmates were invested in me and my development as a teacher, and this was the spirit with which they delivered their observations and reflections. In fact, this is the spirit that pervades all sessions at the Harvard Macy Program for Post-Graduate Trainees. Regardless of whether you are a resident, chief resident, or fellow; whether you are a rookie or experienced teacher; or whether you are new to med ed research or have published several papers, attending the course is being welcomed into a community of peers and faculty who care about and believe in your development as a teacher and a scholar.
Have you attended the Harvard Macy Program for Post-Graduate Trainees? Comment below to share your experiences!
Did you know that the Harvard Macy Institute Community Blog has had more than 240 posts? Previous blog posts have explored topics including, once a scholar forever a scholar, and joining the HMI system – a community of learning, and my medical education mantra.
Maggie Fallon, MD, MEd (Future Academic Clinician Educators ’19) is a Chief Resident in Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. Maggie’s areas of professional interest include pediatric primary care, medical education, and lactation counseling. Maggie can be reached via email.