Harvard Macy Community Blog

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

Art as Antidote: Fostering Empathy, Self-Knowledge, and Resilience in the Art Museum

This past spring, my palliative care colleagues and I sat down in front of Kara Walker’s artwork titled The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. For thirty minutes, we slowed down, turned off our cell phones and pagers, and looked slowly and intently at this 58-foot massive cut-paper work. Like the other works of art we studied in the museum, our docent facilitator began the conversation by asking us the following question: What is going on in this artwork?  Some saw a scene of incredible violence. Others saw a satiric commentary on the American Civil War.  One remarked on figures representing different races and identities. Another commented on gender and sexuality portrayed in the work. With each comment, the facilitator asked: What do you see that makes you say that? Our eyes sharpened and our language became more precise with each passing comment.  For example, when a participant was asked to clarify her remark on different eras of American history portrayed in this image, she honed in on the figure in the upper right of the artwork who appears to be wearing a suit. To her, he represented an African American figure from the Civil Rights era more than from the Civil War. The facilitator acknowledged and paraphrased her comment, and then continued: What more can we find?

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Maha Pervaz Iqbal


Thank you for this interesting blog. I resonate with what you say about developing the soft yet critical skills of physicians thr... Read More
Wednesday, 22 April 2020 12:12 AM
Guest — Mark Stephens

Wonderful Post!

Thank you so much for posting this refreshing and highly educational post Ali John! Love the work that you are doing. Keep it up... Read More
Saturday, 25 April 2020 6:06 PM
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Promoting collaborative and teamwork competency in medical students

The medical practice landscape has changed towards a more team-oriented and inter-professional approach. Physicians are expected to function as effective members of multidisciplinary teams, as the patient case mix has increased in complexity, chronicity and age. Developing collaborative skills in medical education is essential as medical students will enter a dynamic world of team-based medical practice. Therefore, teamwork training is a requisite in medical school to nurture appropriate competencies in the physicians of the future. The literature recommends beginning collaborative and teamwork training at the start of medical training, using implicit team learning (e.g. problem based learning and team based learning activities where students work interdependently to achieve learning outcomes while teamwork/collaboration is influenced by the facilitator) for early students and progressing towards more explicit team learning (e.g. clinical simulation activities where students work interdependently and are given explicit instruction and practice in teamwork/collaboration with the goal of improving their performance) as students advance.  

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April 2020 #MedEdPearls: Mastering Adaptive Teaching in the Midst of COVID-19

The current coronavirus outbreak is forcing all educators to rapidly adapt to a new method of teaching - online. While many educators may have mastered their teaching domains in the classroom, virtual teaching will certainly challenge their mastery of adapting to this new learning environment. With the help of faculty development colleagues, we can remain nimble during times of rapid transition. How do we as medical educators stay resilient and step courageously into this unfamiliar territory?

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The Harvard Macy Institute Podcast: What’s Next for Systems of Assessment in Educational Settings

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 #3 explores Four big issues for assessment in health professions education in discussion with Louis Pangaro, and guest comments from  Sharon Mickan and Martin Pusic. This discussion was originally prepared for the 2020 Systems Approach to Assessment in Health Professions Education course in Boston, where both Lou and Martin were expected to participate as faculty. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the course was postponed and rescheduled for October 18th through October 22nd, 2020 (the Systems course will now be offered annually in October). 

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#MedEdPearl March 2020: Learning style preferences across a spectrum of learners

Have you ever encountered a cohort of learners who are all exactly the same? Likely not.Diversity in learning style preferences is increasing! A learning style preference is a desired or default set of cognitive, psychological, and social characteristics that learners exhibit in educational environments. In education, it is sometimes important to introduce desirable difficulty so learners are challenged to make concepts stick.

However, preceptors must be mindful of the myriad interactions with learners and modify their teaching styles accordingly to the learning style preference encountered (2). To illustrate, try this simple activity: Using a pencil, print your first and last name. Now repeat this same task but switch hands. What did you experience? While using your non-dominant hand, you probably experienced increased anxiety and decreased confidence and automaticity, and the task required increased time, concentration, effort, and attention while the quality of your handwriting decreased. By not attending to learning style preferences, it is akin to forcing learners to write with their non-dominant, non-preferred hand (3).

This pearl is a first of three devoted to the application of learning styles research in medical education.

How do you recognize learning style preference in your learners? Share your thoughts on Twitter at #MedEdPearls!

  1. Grasha A. 1994. A Matter of Style: The Teacher as Expert, Formal Authority, Personal Model, Facilitator, and Delegator. College Teaching, 42(4), 142-149.
  1. Vaughn L., Baker R. 2001. Teaching in the medical setting: balancing teaching styles, learning styles and teaching methods. Medical Teacher, 23(6), 610-612.
  1. Grasha I. 2010. The dynamics of one-on-one teaching. College Teaching, 50(4) 139-146.


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Alice Fornari

In support of learnign prefere...

thank you for the BLOG post i am a firm believer in learning styles as a framework to better understand who your learners are in ... Read More
Tuesday, 24 March 2020 12:12 PM
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