The Harvard Macy Institute

An inter-professional, international incubator for innovators in health care education since 1995, the Harvard Macy Institute takes a collegial “think tank” approach to continuing professional development, bringing together diverse perspectives in health care education. It inspires participants to examine their own assumptions and behaviors in a new light, leading to fresh approaches to their careers and their capacity as leaders of organizational change.

There are five courses offered by the Harvard Macy Institute so participants can choose an initial focus, and continue to build their expertise and network of innovative colleagues worldwide.


The Harvard Macy Institute’s courses encourage a warm, collegial atmosphere conducive to the exchange of ideas and the development of new knowledge, with a major focus on experiential learning and action planning. Each attendee becomes part of an inter-professional project team that collaborates on its members’ institutional projects.

Core learning principles are common to each of the Institute’s courses:

Project-based with action planning.

Each participant comes with a project and leaves with an action plan that has been guided by the course faculty and other participants, to maximize the potential for organizational change in one’s home institution.

Inter-professional and international perspectives.

The Institute is committed to the cross-fertilization of ideas among all involved in health care education. Continuing education programs should reflect the environments in which their participants live and work. Participants frequently cite the importance of being introduced to the diversity of perspectives and experiences in health care, education, and institutions.

Evidence-based, updated annually.

The core program structure, which benefits from the experience of returning scholars, is a major reason for the Institute’s enduring success. Each class day requires approximately two hours of prior reading or reflective preparation. For most, this is a rare opportunity to focus completely on what it means to be an educator and innovator in the health care professions.

Continuous and expanding community of scholars.

In addition to the friendships and network developed while attending an Institute course, participants become part of a broader community of scholars worldwide, dedicated to collaboration and innovation in health care education. Over 150 institutions have sent five or more faculty to the Institute over the years to create a critical mass of faculty to challenge the status quo, champion significant change, and collectively create a long-lasting legacy within their own institution.


  • Faculty model a diverse array of learning strategies:
  • Case-method teaching
  • Panel discussions
  • Whole-group presentations
  • Interactive exercises
  • Observations and debriefs
  • Feedback from faculty and colleagues, with use of videos
  • Reflective use of journal
  • Facilitated discussion in large and small groups
  • Simulation exercise
  • Academic poster design and reviews

Small groups are an essential component of the Institute’s learning strategy, and are:

  • held daily at the beginning of each morning to have in-depth discussions to review recent journal articles from a wide range of publications.
  • used to model design thinking with a goal to produce innovations in health care delivery processes and education.
  • designed to draw together scholars with common interests, and to further the development of each participant’s back-home project for educational change.


HMI is a world leader in organizing programs with the overall goal of developing innovators in health professions education (HPE). About 100 scholars participate each year in each of the 4 programs. In addition, alumni participate as returning scholars and faculty for each of the programs. Thus, the HMI community is an incredibly rich source for healthcare ideas, innovations and research.

The HMI leadership is keen to expand the scholarly activities of the institute (HMI leaders, faculty and scholars) to formulate important study questions, data collection and analysis and advance the field of healthcare education overall.

If any scholar has a healthcare research project that they feel could benefit HMI and our community we invite you to contact us

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“This was by far the best professional development course or conference I have ever taken. It was challenging, engaging, exhilarating, very practical, yet appropriately theoretical and ultimately lifechanging.”

John Wiecha, MD, MPH Associate Professor, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of Academic Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine.
“Attending the Harvard Macy Institute as part of a team that included three physicians, a pharmacist and a nurse opened a journey into understanding healthcare education from multiple perspectives. Viewing teaching and learning from the perspective of the multiple rather than the single profession opened a door to reviewing new ways of teaching and collaboration. Most enlightening was the effect that inter-professional communication has on professional competence and patient outcomes.”

Rosemary Plant, PhD Academic Coordinator and Associate Professor, School of Nursing, University of California – San Francisco