Harvard Macy Community Blog

Fostering the ongoing connectedness of health professions educators committed to transforming health care delivery and education.

#MedEdPearls June 2021: Dare to Fail!

Have you ever asked yourself what you would attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? Failure is scary. It is typically not celebrated or advertised. However, in this #MedEdPearls, we look at ways to acknowledge and embrace our vulnerabilities and find the childlike wonder that comes from failure and leads to innovation. If we are not attempting great things, amazing things stop happening. By embracing failure, amazing things become possible. 

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The Harvard Macy Institute Podcast Season 2 Episode 4: Developing Leaders for Healthcare and Education

The Harvard Macy Institute Podcast aims to connect our Harvard Macy Institute community and to develop our interest in health professions education topics and literature. Our podcast is hosted by our Program for Educators in the Health Professions course faculty Victoria Brazil, and will feature interviews with health professions education authors and their research papers. 

Season 2, Episode 4 features Harvard Macy Institute Leading Innovations in Health Care and Education course directors Liz Armstrong, Derek van Bever and Josh Nagler, together with 2020 scholars Tanya Holt and Tanya Horsley, reflection on the why, what and how of developing leaders for 21st century education and healthcare.           

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Lessons from a Mobile Classroom Pilot: Rebuilding Trust with Underserved Populations During the Pandemic

That this past summer the Baystate Health WOW (Wellness on Wheels) bus, our mobile healthcare effort, rolled out into the community during the national crisis seems antithetic to our current context of virtual learning and social distance. As the pandemic hit underserved communities of black and Latinx residents in Western Massachusetts, the privilege of a planning period for the mobile classroom was replaced with an urgency to intervene.

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Making Lemonade: Reimagining the Visiting Professorship during a Pandemic

Shrouded in tradition and long held symbol of prestige in academia, the Visiting Professorship has arguably lost its original purpose of furthering education, and rather has remained a vestige of academic notoriety and fodder for promotion. As such, and in particular in the setting of economic hardships, the Visiting Professorship has been diminishing in popularity, with the few major academic radiology programs who host Visiting Professors reporting hosting just a handful per year. However, the educational advantages of a lecture or a didactic case conference by physician subject experts from different institutions have been long documented and are in particular advantageous in a rapidly evolving field such as radiology. Thus, as the pandemic upended medical education everywhere and radiology case volumes have drastically dropped which significantly decreased radiology residents’ educational opportunities we sought to leverage the increasing widespread utilization of videoconferencing and reinvented Visiting Professorship in a virtual format. 

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Thinking Outside the Box: Rethinking Medical Education of the Younger Generation During a Pandemic

The beginning of the COVID-19 surge indicated that we could not safely see our pediatric patients in the office. But patients still needed us either for sick visits, issues related to population health, or reassurance. We could not abandon them. Within the scope of 24-48 hours, we as clinicians were training ourselves on how to teach patients how to connect to MyChart, and use Zoom for telemedicine. At the same time, we were learning how to conduct histories and physicals using telemedicine. Our neuronal connections likely grew exponentially! Soon, we found ways to educate the younger generation, to bring them along this adventure into uncharted territories full of seemingly unsurmountable difficulties which we soon learned to overcome.

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May 2021 #MedEdPearls: A One Minute Pause on Mattering

Take one minute to think about the first time you realized you mattered as an educator. What happened? How did you feel?

Whether it was an action from organizational leadership taken in your favor, an encouraging word spoken over you by a student, or an object that represented deep meaning to efforts, you experienced the power of mattering: you felt valued and knew you added value.

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The Harvard Macy Institute Podcast Season 2 Episode 3: Leading Curricular Change

The Harvard Macy Institute Podcast aims to connect our Harvard Macy Institute community and to develop our interest in health professions education topics and literature. Our podcast is hosted by our Program for Educators in the Health Professions course faculty Victoria Brazil, and will feature interviews with health professions education authors and their research papers.

Season 2, Episode 3 features health professions educators Lisa Jane Jacobsen and Jennifer Meka from the Jacobs School of Medicine and biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo, talking about leading curricular change at their institution.           

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Co-facilitating Small Group Learning Environments: Creating Meaningful Connections at a Virtual Conference

Virtual conferences appear to be the new reality. Although this format offers a number of advantages such as better accessibility for learners and the possibility to have speakers from all over the world without the need to travel, the main difficulty lies in creating “real” connections and networking opportunities. This is paramount for a conference such as the Harvard Macy Institute Program for Educators in the Health Professions, which offers a number of small group activities where interaction and connection amongst scholars is essential to have fruitful discussions. In this blog we offer our tips for co-facilitating in virtual environments.

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Transitioning #HMIChat Leadership After 5 Wonderful Years

In February of 2021, our monthly Harvard Macy Twitter Chat (#HMIChat) celebrated 5 wonderful years of engagement, learning, and building community worldwide. The aim has always been to connect Harvard Macy Institute scholars around the world, to continue the conversations, and learn from and with each other. The result is more than 62 chats and over 40,000 tweets. Since 2016, #HMIChat has been curated by Elissa Hall, EdD, Justin Kreuter, MD, and Teresa Soro, MS and under their leadership our chat has grown into a known and respected learning experience in the health professions education social media space.

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April 2021 #MedEdPearls: Teaching in the aftermath of COVID-19: Applying principles of trauma-informed care to our return to classroom teaching

One year ago, I contributed a MedEdPearl titled "Mastering Adaptive Teaching in the Midst of COVID-19" that offered strategies for maintaining teacher, social and cognitive presence during our rapid transition to remote online learning. And now, I consider our needs as educators as we prepare for the possible transition back to the classroom this fall. Unlike last year, though, this possibility is conflated by more issues than merely the learning environment. As I write this blog, I reflect on a recent opinion article titled "America Isn't Ready for the Coming Wave of Grief." In addition to the direct human cost and long-haul effects of the pandemic, delayed mourning, physical isolation, economic burden, and exaggerated inequalities have compounded the toll on our collective mental health. So once again, I find myself asking how we as medical and health professions educators can prepare, stay resilient and step courageously into this unfamiliar territory?  

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A PEACEful approach to virtual teaching

Have you found yourself wishing your virtual teaching was more PEACEful? In this blog post, we draw on two theoretical frameworks – Cognitive Load Theory and Self Determination Theory – to outline five key steps for improving your virtual teaching. Together with my colleagues Dr. Deepa Rangachari and Dr. Jeremy Cetnar, we generated a useful mnemonic for these key principles of virtual teaching: PEACE.

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Silver Lining of the New Virtual World: Virtual Mentoring

This post was inspired by a recent assignment I completed as part of the Harvard Macy Program for Educators in the Health Professions. We were asked to write about a “silver lining” that transpired from the COVID-19 pandemic. I struggled with thinking of something positive when I was surrounded by so much loss, including parents of my patients struggling with employment and food insecurity, and even death. However, I challenged myself to recognize my privilege and, in my reflection, I was able to consider how my professional life had actually improved in a very noticeable way.

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Zoom, Bloom and the Virtual Room

Amid all of the pandemic’s tragedies, our medical students’ education could not be another sacrifice.  Before COVID-19, our third year medical student clerks spent four days a week seeing patients at their family medicine preceptors’ offices, and then gathered back in the classroom on Fridays for a robust didactic curriculum. It was a day both to review core topics and to get together as a group with breakfast and lunch, the latter a not-so-hidden feature of the program intending to alleviate some of the inherent loneliness of a non-hospital-based rotation comprising one student intensely working with one preceptor.

Alas, COVID-19 hit. After a spring hiatus, masked students returned to their clinical duties, but all in-person classroom programming was suspended. Enter virtual learning!

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Is it better to “Zoom out” than to fade away? Combating burnout created by online teaching

In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all teaching and learning has gone online. The protective benefits of this scenario are that it facilitates in the continuation of education via distance or blended learning in safer, more socially distant environments. However, it has created a stressful situation for some health professions educators, whose personal and work lives are now a blur causing “techno stress” and burnout. Constantly interacting through a box on your screen is not ideal for medical professionals, and we have done much improvisation in our teaching practices. This blog post discusses instructional strategies which would help teachers combat frustrations created by online sessions.

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March 2021 #MedEdPearls: Conducting Faculty Development During the COVID-19 Pandemic using Affective Behavioral Development – A Catalyst for Growth Transformation

Although many of us will reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic as disruptive to our way of life, COVID-19 has radically transformed the process of medical education and has served as a catalyst for incorporation of new technologies, remote learning platforms, and novel methods of instruction. These changes have placed faculty development at the forefront of the medical education response to COVID-19. Faculty developers provided continual and responsible support during this “emergency online education pivot” as institutions minimized the catastrophic spread of disease and by changing the traditional medical education approach. Faculty developers, as experts in online learning pedagogy, educational technology tools, and online student services, designed, produced, and delivered training quickly and effectively to meet the immediate needs of faculty and to save institutions.

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How to Evaluate Teaching Effectiveness

How do I know my teaching is good? As an educator, do you grapple with this question like I do? Following a recent hands-on musculoskeletal point of care ultrasound (POCUS) session I taught to internal medicine residents, a handful of learners approached me to bestow praise. “That was awesome!” I basked in the glow of their comments but found myself reflecting afterward. Was the session (and more specifically my teaching in the session) effective? Did the residents’ abilities to perform a bedside POCUS exam actually improve? Will they retain the new knowledge? Did the teaching affect their practice patterns? Or was the session simply 2 hours away from clinical responsibilities? I knew I needed to learn how to study my own teaching.

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“Unmasking” in the Era of COVID-19

This joint narrative reflection weaves through the experiences of three female physicians, practicing internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic. It uses the metaphor of the ubiquitous masks we now all wear to explore the boundaries between caregivers and patients and the unanticipated “unmasking” that has taken place across technological platforms, in hallways and patient spaces. The focus is on the commonality of experience of clinical caregivers in these extraordinary times, despite the diversity of social and cultural settings. Most importantly we describe what has been uncovered and what other health care providers might take away from this once-in-a-life-time experience.

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The Harvard Macy Institute Podcast Season 2 Episode 2: Online Education in a Hurry

The Harvard Macy Institute Podcast aims to connect our Harvard Macy Institute community and to develop our interest in health professions education topics and literature. Our podcast is hosted by our Program for Educators in the Health Professions course faculty Victoria Brazil, and will feature interviews with health professions education authors and their research papers.

Podcast #10 features health professions educational leaders Sarah Teele and Traci Wolbrink, discussing their recent article Online education in a hurry: Delivering pediatric graduate medical education during COVID-19.         

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February 2021 #MedEdPearls: Skating to where the HPE puck is going to be

Health Professions Education thought leaders consider reflective practice to be an essential characteristic for professional competence. However, the start of spring semester does not usually elicit reflection about “How am I going to teach next fall?” However, these are unique times and instead of a normal evolution of our curricula, teaching, and assessment strategies, we may find ourselves returning to old strategies or perhaps on new trajectories. Chances are Fall of 2021 will not look like Fall of 2020 or 2019. What are good questions to ask as you reflect on fall of 2020 and begin to plan for fall of 2021? That question was posed to the team of faculty developers from the MedEdPearls team who developed the following list of ideas for health professions educators to consider.

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Social Distance without Social Isolation: Providing Virtual Psychological Support and a Sense of Community

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a parallel pandemic of psychological distress across the world. Health care staff who are at the forefront are also highly vulnerable to psychological distress. There are several pandemic related contributing factors including fear of getting sick and infecting others, increased work demands, disruption of normal routine, uncertainty about the future and social isolation. Quarantine itself is a risk factor and promotes social isolation.

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