Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My Quest for a Masters in Medical Education

By: Jean Miner, MD, FACS; Co-Chair of the AWS Clinical Practice Committee

“See one, do one, teach one.” Most, if not all surgical trainees heard this throughout their residency years.  Was this the best way back in the day? Probably not.  Is it the best way now? Certainly not. 

The dynamics of surgical education have changed drastically over the past decade.  A combination of duty hour restrictions, new learning initiatives, technological advancements and stringent requirements have necessitated that educators adapt new methodologies of teaching.  When we all think back to our favorite professors and instructors, it seems as if teaching came naturally to them, but as we now know, teaching is hard.  And it is even more difficult to do it well.

Over the past few years, I realized that my formalized knowledge of curriculum development, assessment methods and teaching practice was inadequate to teach the next generation of surgeons.  Coming to this awareness, I determined my own need for training to become a better educator.  At that point, I started to search for formal opportunities and found a multitude of options for pursuing further education. 

I wanted to share some me of my findings in the hope that it may make it easier for colleagues interested in a structured curriculum to find their perfect match.  Below, is a summary of the options that interested me most.

After careful deliberation and a year of procrastination, I chose to pursue a Master’s in Medical Education at the University of New England’s program for several reasons.  The completely online aspect was essential as I didn’t want to worry about travelling for any portion and I can complete assignments at whatever time works for me.  Secondly, the format is such that assignments are always due on Wednesdays and Saturdays for each course.  This has allowed me to develop a routine to meet the deadlines.  The cost is reasonable for advanced education.  Finally, the most important feature is the flexibility.  After four credits in one of the two disciplines, a student is awarded certification.  I particularly liked this option because I was uncertain whether I would be able to keep up the pace for the traditional two year structure.  The program allows for a student who has gained certification to complete the full Master’s program within 5 years.

I have now completed my first course, “Improving Instructional Effectiveness” and have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect.  Already, the knowledge gained from the course has allowed me to implement effective changes within my daily teachings.

Master’s Programs

University of New England
The master's degree in Medical Education Leadership is a two-year web-based program designed especially for working professionals that utilizes asynchronous, distance learning within a professional community. The 33-credit hour MEL curriculum is designed to enhance your skills in a variety of professional areas of academic medicine—curriculum, instruction, assessment, personnel development, organizational development, leadership skills, business and finance, and research and evaluation—through professional application and scholarship. The master’s degree also allows for two electives (three credits each) and culminates in an applied project. The final requirement of the program is a professional portfolio that is a longitudinal integration and application of learning.


Online Graduate Certificates

Program Development in Academic Medicine 

This twelve-credit hour program provides you with the core program development concepts in curriculum, instruction, learner assessment, program evaluation and research methods in academic medicine. This set of courses is one of the foundations for the UNE Master of Science in Medical Education Leadership.


Leadership Development in Academic Medicine

This twelve-credit hour program provides you with the core leadership development concepts in personnel development, organizational development, leadership skill training, and business/finance in academic medicine. This set of courses is one of the foundations for the Master of Science in Medical Education Leadership.

Approximately $23,000 for full Master’s degree

The Master of Academic Medicine is offered through the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in collaboration with the Schools of Dentistry and Pharmacy. Our program employs a blended model, combining on-line coursework with on-campus face-to-face sessions, one week each March.

A Master’s Program for Today's Challenges
Our goal is to cultivate leaders who will develop and advance educational programs for healthcare professions globally. Health professions education is continuously evolving, which requires leaders that are process experts with a broad repertoire of approaches that can be applied to varied content arenas and situations. The program addresses a challenge in health professions' education - the need for qualified educators who can model and lead change in their respective schools and programs. Graduates will be positioned to guide future generations of health professionals toward better meeting the health needs of our global society.

Approximately $50,000 (not including travel for one week in CA)

The Johns Hopkins University, through an innovative collaboration of its Schools of Business, Education, Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health, is offering a world class degree - the Master of Education in the Health Professions (MEHP) - that prepares a new generation of health professionals to teach effectively for schools and training programs related to medicine, public health, nursing, and other health professions.

The MEHP program consists of an 18-credit core in Evidence Based Teaching--which can also be taken as a stand-alone post-master's certificate--and a 15-credit option to focus on educational research or educational leadership. The program format is entirely online.

Approximately $40,000

Additional Master’s Programs

Courses/ Fellowship

The six-day intensive course is designed to provide surgeons with the knowledge and skills to enhance their abilities as teachers and administrators of surgical education programs.
The course emphasizes the needs of adult learners and the techniques necessary to develop an effective learning environment for medical students, surgical residents, colleagues, and others in the health profession. The maximum class size of 32 allows highly interactive sessions

$3,950 for American College of Surgeons members
$4,450 for nonmembers

A one year, home-site fellowship designed to equip investigators with the skills and knowledge needed to plan, implement and report research studies in the field of surgical education. Following acceptance into the SERF program, each fellow is carefully matched by the program's faculty with a SERF Adviser, a respected and knowledgeable researcher who will serve as the fellow's mentor and consultant on their particular project. ($1700)

Jean Miner, MD, FACS is the Program Director for General Surgery Residency at Florida Hospital, Associate Professor, UCFCOM & FSUSOM and serves as the Co-Chair of the AWS Clinical Practice Committee. 

This is My Story: The Power of Mentorship

by: Katherine Jeffress, MA, MPH

Earlier this month Dr. Minerva posted on the “Importance of Mentoring” on the AWS Blog.  At the end of her post she asks, “What has your own mentorship experience been like?” This is my story…

It begins in a rural village in Ghana West Africa where I was serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Originally placed there to teach science at a junior secondary school I quickly found myself starting a large multi-site adult literacy program for women and doing community outreach visits while working at an HIV/AIDs treatment center at a district hospital. While there I met a surgeon who was doing a locum at the hospital from South Africa. It was his mentorship and example that initiated my desire to be a surgeon. He was one of the lost boys of Sudan who after walking many miles to a refugee camp was eventually resettled in Canada. There he studied to become a surgeon and then later he returned to work in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although based in South Africa he did locums in areas all over the content that had surgical shortages. His life story had really moved me so one day I finally mustered up the courage to asked him for some career advice. I asked him if I wanted to work in global health in Sub-Saharan Africa after the Peace Corps what skills and expertise were most needed.

He replied, “In Sub-Saharan Africa we need surgeons. We have many great doctors here but many countries don’t yet have the capacity to fully train surgeons or equip operating theatres for complex procedures. Some are lucky enough to go overseas to train and bring the technical expertise back but many many people here still do not have access to basic surgical care. You should become a surgeon.”

 That night he provided me with many pieces of life advice (some of which I’ve forgotten) but I couldn’t remove the ideal of becoming a surgeon from the back of my mind. It was such a foreign and strange idea to me. Later I returned to the USA a very different person and went back to my graduate studies in psychology and anthropology feeling a bit lost and completely out of place. I knew at that point that I wanted a career in global health but had no clue about the variety of jobs that were out there or what skills and qualifications I actually needed to get those jobs.

It was also at that point that I started working with a career advisor at my university who taught me how to network and set up informational interviews with people who had jobs I was interested in. These informational interviews consisted of 15-20 minute conversations where I would listen to the story of how they got to where they are now, what qualifications and attributes someone would need to succeed at what they do, and what their job was truly like. Every conversation I had was extremely helpful and some even led to long-term mentoring relationships. 

During this time I also formed another mentoring relationship with an Anthropology Professor of mine who was originally from Australia. The support and guidance she provided me set off a cascade of life events that ultimately lead me to Australia where I ended up obtaining a Masters degree in International Public Health and working as a researcher to help develop estimates of gynecological disorders for the most recent update of the World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease Study. It was happenstance that I ended up working on genital prolapse a condition that requires surgery to ultimately treat it. I was shocked by how prevalent the condition is in many poor countries with high birth rates. What was even more shocking was how few women outside of developed countries ever received treatment for it. I again became painfully aware of the lack of access the worlds poor have to basic surgical procedures. The influence of my Sudanese mentor combined with this experience finally resulted in me deciding to apply to medical school so that I could one day be trained as a surgeon.

Since I’ve started medical school I have continued to seek out mentors for advice and guidance. In my search for surgical mentors I’ve participated in a formal mentoring program at my university and found mentors through my prior university’s alumni database and through the Association of Women Surgeons database.  Some of my mentors have had me shadow them while they work. Others I’ve meet for coffee or over Skype. Notably, I’ve found the Association of Women Surgeon’s Annual Meeting to be a particularly great place to meet with women in surgery face to face for mentorship opportunities.

Many unexpected opportunities have been opened up for me through mentorship. One mentor that I met through my prior university’s alumni network was incredibly generous and offered me the opportunity to do research with him over the summer break between my first and second year of medical school. While there I quickly feel in love with research in vascular surgery. I also met another wonderful mentor who gave me more great advice about how to become a competitive applicant for a surgery residency and what programs would be a particularly good fit for me given my interest in global surgery. She even invited me to a brunch with other female surgeons in the area.

I’ve found it incredibly helpful to have mentors at varying points in their career that work in a variety of different practice settings. Some of my mentors have come and gone others may stay for years. I would not be the person I am today without these mentors. Their support, example, advice, and guidance have and are providing me with a safety net for my success. These relationships have cultivated innovation and creativity in my research endeavors and life pursuits.

Their stories and example have played an integral role in helping me get a clear vision of what I want to do professionally. Their advice and guidance has been pivotal in enabling me to identify tangible and achievable career goals that are consistent with this vision. These mentors have also shown me how to obtain these goals by outlining a clear path to take.  

They’ve done this by:
·         Sharing their story with me
·         Outlining the specific skills and expertise I need to build
·         Indicating the vital research or leadership experiences I need to have at each training level.
·         Sharing great resources to study to efficiently obtain the scores I need.
·         Teaching me how to be a valuable member of the team even at the medical student level.
·         Providing opportunities I need to develop myself so I’m prepared to enter the profession or by introducing me to people that can. 

When the journey has become difficult and I’ve questioned the path I’ve chosen to take my mentors have helped me keep prospective, given advice to increase my resilience, and shown me that there is a place for me in the surgical world even if at times I may feel like I don’t belong. It is their support and inspiration that led me to medical school and pushes me to work hard to pursue a career in surgery.

I really don’t know what words to use to express the deepest gratitude I have for the amazing people who have come into my life as mentors. They have had a profoundly impact on the course of my life. They have shown me that mentoring is an extremely powerful tool for career success.

If you don’t have the right set of mentors I strongly encourage you to seek them out. If you’ve had amazing mentors or want to provide the experience you never had the privilege of having I encourage you to pay it forward. I for one can’t wait to pay it forward.


Katherine Jeffress, MA, MPH is a 3rd year medical student at Sydney Medical School. Prior to this, she received a Masters of Liberal Arts degree in Psychology from Harvard University where her thesis focused on the effectiveness of culturally adapted treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder in refugee and internally displaced children. She also received a Masters of International Public Health from The University of Queensland and while there worked as a Research Officer at the Centre for Burden of Disease and Cost-Effectiveness. Katherine served as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer from 2007-2008 in Ghana, West Africa.  She is passionate about global surgery and the provision of high-quality health care to poor and marginalized people around the world. She can be followed on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Importance of Mentoring

Last month, the Healthcare Leadership Tweet Chat (#HCLDR) invited me to participate as guest moderator to discuss The Changing Face of Medicine. You can read the accompanying blog post here

The weekly Tuesday evening #HCLDR chat engages a diverse community made up of patients, medical students, doctors, surgeons, residents, nurses, healthcare executives, and many others with a shared interest in healthcare leadership. Some international colleagues also joined from Europe, the Philippines, and Australia.

For many Tweeters, it was also the first time joining the #HCLDR Tweet chat. We were very proud to have the support of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) and the Association of Women Surgeons (AWS).

The #HCLDR platform resulted in an engaging conversation on the importance of diversity in medicine. One question we discussed was how can we encourage women and other minorities to pursue careers in medicine/surgery or any non-traditional field?

Among the many excellent responses, a common theme emerged of the importance of mentoring.

Another important factor is to expose students to careers in medicine and surgery early. "Building the pipeline" can be achieved through personal interactions and through support of outreach programs and organizations. One of our AWS members recently wrote on her experience in showing young students what she does daily as a surgeon on The Power of a Stitch.

Demonstrating that diversity is important to the organization and showing students that doctors are also people they can relate to are other important aspects of mentoring. 


How do you find mentors? We previously tackled the topic of finding a Mentor in our Lean In Book Review, which you can find here.  A quick recap on working with mentors: 

1.            Be mindful of the mentor’s time
2.            Strangers can be mentors. Don’t be afraid to seek out someone no matter how much you admire them.
3.            “Excel and you will get a mentor”
4.            Have more than one mentor.

What has your own mentorship experience been like? Have you been a part of an organized mentorship program? How can mentoring be fruitful endeavor for faculty?

If you have not downloaded the AWS Pocket Mentor you may do so here. You can also read our AWS blog post for good advice passed down from our mentors.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Blogger Q&A: What are you reading?

Christina Cellini, MD, FACS, FASCRS: I am currently reading The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

Marie Crandall, MD, MPH, FACS: I’m currently reading 3 things; I’m in the middle of A Traitor to His Class: The Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, just finished a fun graphic novel, Juicy Mother: Celebration by Jennifer Camper, and The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3301907-traitor-to-his-class?from_search=true     https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/370851.Juicy_Mother?from_search=true     https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17262100-the-lowland?from_search=true

Celeste Hollands, MD, FACS, FAAP: The Athena Doctrine; The Noticer

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16250170-the-athena-doctrine?from_search=true     https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6261270-the-noticer?from_search=true

Lauren Nosanov, MD: I’m reading Pauline Chen’s Final Exam


Callie Thompson, MD: Sadly, I haven't found much free time for reading outside of textbooks and journal articles but I am currently in the middle of three books. Two of them are about raising a French Bulldog and one is about puppy training. You might've guessed that my children have successfully convinced us to get them a dog and I am trying to prepare myself.

Photo Credit

Jane Zhao, MD: I recently completed There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children by Melissa Fay Greene and The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson. Now I'm in the thick of Advanced Trauma Life Support: Student Course Manual.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/119729.There_Is_No_Me_Without_You?from_search=true     https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2767793-the-hero-of-ages?from_search=true     https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17141989-atls-student-manual?from_search=true


What are YOU reading? Let us know in the comments below.