As an anchor institution and major economic driver in St Louis, Washington University School of Medicine is uniquely equipped to help heal some of the wounds of our nation that are currently on full display. Now is an opportunity to own the role our actions have played in leading to this moment and partner with our local communities to address the challenges we are experiencing. Every effort that we make individually and as an institution helps to move us closer to healing. While we all want that healing to occur swiftly, the wounds are deep and have occurred over centuries and will require time and consistent, concerted and sustained effort to address. As educators and educational leaders, we have the ability to impact change both through our immediate actions in curricula, patient care, and community outreach, as well as through the training of a workforce that has the ability to further this change through both small actions and large. In this excerpt, I would like to talk about some of the initiatives we are undertaking in 2021 related to these issues.
In UME, we, of course, are continuing the implementation of the Gateway Curriculum. One of the great successes of Gateway has been the incorporation of a robust social justice curriculum. Our students are learning important foundations that will allow them to become agents of change no matter what they choose to do in medicine and science. In addition, under the leadership of Kaytlin Reedy-Rogier and Audrey Coolman, our students are learning about community, what partnership with community looks like, and how we can most effectively serve where and how needed through those partnerships. This has included a complete retooling of our traditional volunteer programs to ensure alignment with community needs. While we will continue to refine and implement Phase 1, we now also turn our attentions to Phase 2 (Gateway to Clinical Medicine) and Phase 3 (Gateway to Specialization), led by Dean De Fer. Social justice and community engagement will continue to be critical themes throughout the remainder of the curriculum. Students with specific interests in developing their careers in this area will also have the opportunity to pursue a Distinction in Advocacy and Global Health through the Explore Curriculum led by Darrell Hudson and Caline Mattar.
In GME, we have recently completed a restructuring of the Office in support of enhanced partnership within the Consortium (WashU, BJH and SLCH). Like WashU, BJH and SLCH have recently redoubled efforts to address health disparities and improved alignment within GME as well as across the system will help to maximize our intended impact. Tia Drake has been named DIO. Her immediate area of focus is on the creation of program dashboards so we can more effectively and efficiently monitor program compliance and offer early assistance when a program or residents are struggling. This is critical to ensuring not only effective training, but also the wellbeing and support of our residents and fellows providing care to some of the most underserved populations in Missouri. Thomas Ciesielski continues as GME Medical Director, Patient Safety and Quality Education and CLER Program Development. He and Jess Pittman will be working to develop a health disparities and social justice curriculum for residents and fellows. Jenny Duncan continues as our Director of Wellness. We have added a second counselor recently and together, the wellness team are providing counseling as well as wellness groups and education to our residents and fellows. Jenny and Emily Fondahn are also spearheading a new Learning Environment Committee which will work to address several concerns raised by Housestaff Council including issues of mistreatment, bias, inclusion and patient-related bias and discrimination.
In CME, Allyson Zazulia will be leading us through a needs assessment to determine the future direction of CME at WashU. We are hoping to understand how we can best serve our internal community, as well as our community partners to address disparities and inequities in care, among other issues. The COVID pandemic as well as changes in maintenance of certification have raised a myriad of questions about how we most effectively ensure health professionals keep up to date while also ensuring that the health system moves forward to improve quality, safety and access.
There is much more to do. We all have the ability to contribute to make the changes that need to be made to move us to a more just and kind society. I look forward to hearing from you how we can do even more to further these and other important initiatives. I wish you all a brighter 2021 filled with the joy that comes from a career filled with purpose and meaning.
Medical Education Research Unit
The Medical Education Research Unit (MERU) in the Office of Education conducts and supports education research and scholarship at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM). The MERU was established in 2015, by Dr. Alison Whelan, WUSM’s previous Senior Associate Dean for Education, Dr. Dorothy Andriole, and Dr. Donna Jeffe who was the inaugural Director of MERU. Dr. Whelan and Dr. Andriole are currently at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Dr. Janice Hanson joined the faculty of WUSM in January 2019 and joined Dr. Jeffe as co-director. Ms. Maria Pérez is also an essential member of the MERU team and has been Dr. Jeffe’s Project Manager for 16 years in both clinical and educational research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Ms. Pérez plays a key role in managing educational research and scholarship in the MERU, organizing research tasks and projects, and managing requests that come to MERU for consultation or assistance with distribution of surveys to WUSM medical students.
MERU has three priority areas of education research and scholarship: diversity, equity and inclusion in medical education, assessment in medical and health professions education, and professional identify formation. Dr. Jeffe has been Principal Investigator (PI) of NIH-funded research for more than 20 years. Currently, she is PI of a medical-education research project focusing on interventions that increase the diversity of the physician-scientist workforce. For this project, she has received continual funding from NIH since 2008. Dr. Jeffe collaborates extensively with medical students, residents, fellows and faculty at WUSM and other medical schools in the U.S. and abroad. Dr. Hanson also collaborates with medical students, residents, fellows, and faculty at WUSM, other medical schools, and internationally. Dr. Hanson is working with Dr. Amanda Emke, Director of Assessment for the Gateway Curriculum, to build the research effort in assessment. Dr. Hanson and Dr. Emke each conducts research about assessment in the health professions, and they are also collaborating with Dr. Eve Colson and others on research about assessment in the Gateway Curriculum. Dr. Hanson is also working with Dr. Colleen Wallace and a team of humanities experts to build a research effort in professional identity formation and incorporate art, literature, film, and music in the curriculum in support of professional identity formation. In addition, Dr. Hanson is leading a multi-site study focusing on disparities in clerkship grading, which is funded by the Association of American Medical Colleges, Group on Educational Affairs; Dr. Eve Colson, co-PI, Dr. Jeffe, Dr. Aagaard, and Ms. Pérez are also on the team. In addition, MERU is working with the Gateway Curriculum Community Engagement Group to evaluate anti-racism curriculum activities at WUSM. We welcome additional collaborators in these priority areas of education research and scholarship.
MERU is a resource for faculty, students, residents, and fellows engaged in education research and scholarship. MERU works with the Academy of Educators to coordinate a competitive small grants program for educational scholarship projects led by WUSM faculty members. In addition, anyone can request a research/scholarship consultation by submitting a request for consultation on the MERU webpage (https://education.med.wustl.edu/research-scholarship/meru/). MERU also reviews all requests to distribute surveys to WUSM medical students for research purposes. A request to distribute surveys can also be submitted on the MERU website. MERU faculty will provide consultations on designing education research and scholarship projects on any topic. We also are interested in collaborating on educational research, especially if focused on the three research priority areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, assessment, and professional identity formation, and in supporting education scholarship related to the Gateway Curriculum.
Thank You Dr. Klingensmith and Welcome Dr. Spencer
Late last spring, Dr. Klingensmith told me that she would need to step down from the role of Director of the Academy of Educators. As many of you know, Mary is the Vice Chair for Education in Surgery and the Mary Culver Distinguished Professor of Surgery, in addition to her role as Inaugural Director of the Academy. Mary also holds multiple national roles in surgery and surgery education through the American Board of Surgery (ABS), the American College of Surgeons, the Association for Surgical Education, and the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), that in December 2019 culminated in her appointment as Vice President of the ABS. In her new role, she also serves as editor-in-chief of SCORE in addition to executive administrative duties. The commitment of this new role precipitated her need to step down from the Academy Director role.
Dr. Klingensmith has been a truly exceptional Inaugural Director of the Academy. Truly, I cannot think of anyone who could have done what she has done in such a short amount of time. In less than 2 years, she created an impressive vision and mission. She created a process and plan for membership culminating in two highly successful membership selections engaging national peer review. She oversaw the development of three unique longitudinal faculty development programs and the creation of as needed departmental and school based educator workshops. These programs have been pivotal in curriculum renewal and GME accreditation. She had the foresight and exceptional skill to develop two impressive workgroups that have created thoughtful plans and development around mentoring and awards. She has created a small grants program with MERU and transitioned the Loeb fellowships under the Academy. But, most importantly, she has created a community of educators who are engaged, supportive and united in advancing the education mission at Washington University. Fortunately, for all of us, Mary has agreed to continue to lead the Academy for the remainder of this academic year, and will continue to remain in leadership and membership with the Academy.
Abby Spencer, MD, MS, FACP will join us here at Washington University on March 1st as Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Medicine and Director of the Academy. Dr. Spencer is a nationally recognized leader in medical education and faculty development. She has delivered over 150 faculty development/educational courses and workshops locally, regionally and nationally. She has won numerous national awards for her teaching, educational scholarship, mentorship, and leadership including the 2016 Society of General Internal Medicine and Association of Chiefs and Leaders in GIM National Brancati Leadership and Mentorship Award, the 2017 SGIM National Scholarship in Education Award, and the 2020 ACGME Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award. She was awarded the Cleveland Clinic Women’s Professional Staff Women’s Champion Award in 2020, which recognizes contribution to the advancement, development and wellbeing of the women professional staff at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Spencer was the recipient of two AAIM innovations grants (faculty development and trainee leadership development). She also received the Henry Walton Prize from the Journal of Medical Education and has won several Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) scholarship in teaching awards over the past few years. Dr. Spencer is an innovative and enthusiastic educator. She is exceptional at finding the strengths and potential in others and cultivating their strengths to help them achieve their highest potential. She has dedicated her career to innovating, developing curriculum, building teams, and developing others in medical education. Her passion and skill for teaching have been recognized by her many Med Ed podcast appearances on the popular ACP-sponsored podcast “The Curbsiders,” on the Leadership Edge podcast entitled “Leading by Teaching,” and on the Medicine Mentors Podcast. Dr. Spencer was inducted as a fellow to the Case Western Reserve University Academy of Scholar Educators in March 2019. She is a worthy successor to Dr. Klingensmith’s impressive legacy as Academy Director. In addition to serving as Academy Director and Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Medicine, she will also develop a program for new Program Director Development and mentoring.
Eva Aagaard, MD (pronouns: she/her/hers)
Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Professor of Medical Education
Associate Vice Chancellor for Medical Education
Washington University School of Medicine
Office of Education Welcomes New Team Members
Welcome to the following new members of the Office of Education team.
Aaron Baker, Standardized Patient Program Educator
Aaron Baker is assuming the role of SP Educator, working with SPs in case portrayal and quality assurance of standardization of portrayals. He will also be involved in on-boarding activities for new SPs. Aaron has worked as a SP for WUSM since 2008 and brings extensive experience in coaching and feedback.
Allison “Allie” Schmidt, Administrative Assistant
Allie Schmidt will be the Administrative Assistant for the Immersive Learning Center, inclusive of both the Simulation Center and Standardized Patient Program. Allie has worked as an SP since 2013 and her experience as an office manager and SP makes her uniquely qualified to support the Center.
Angel Euzarraga, Course Coordinator
Angel Euzarraga is a Course Coordinator for the Office of Medical Student Education where she will be responsible for coordinating, administering and monitoring various components of the MD curriculum. Angel is coming to the Office of Education from St. Louis Community College where she has over six years of higher education experience in student and academic affairs.
Matt King, Content Strategist
Matt King is a content strategist for the Office of Education. He will coordinate key marketing and communication initiatives as well as develop content strategies for the websites, newsletters and social media. Matt is excited to join the WashU family and make the transition to higher education after a career in sports media and previously as the director of content for the St. Louis BattleHawks.
Statement Regarding Events on Wednesday, January 6, 2021
On Wednesday, we saw an event of domestic terrorism unfold that likely shook many of us to our core. It was meant to thread fear into the fabric of our nation and to shutter a democratic process foundational to the transition of leadership. As a country and as a community, we cannot and will not support this nor the underlying beliefs that fueled these actions.
The beauty of our country is rooted in the ability to disagree, to have civil discourse around those disagreements, and even to demonstrate when injustice occurs. What occurred was, instead, an aggression aimed at reifying white supremacy, and at Washington University School of Medicine, we are very clear that this is an affront to our values and purpose.
As you process through the events of this week and, perhaps, nervously anticipate what is ahead, we’d offer that this experience is likely feeling hard to navigate for a myriad of reasons. Objectively, an attack on the Capitol Building is terrifying, regardless of politics. It may also feel painful for some as they think about and juxtapose this incident and surrounding rhetoric to the national response to those who participated in the protests of racism over the summer months. These events and emotions both exemplify the divisiveness of our nation and defy politics. If ever there was a time to lean into community, it is now.
What we have as strengths within WUSM are values of learning, seeking truth, and a strong community striving for excellence. We have grown in our understanding of and accountability to those most affected by injustice. We are called to use our strengths to create a better society. Considering these events and the multiple instances of systematic and systemic racism that have occurred over the last several years, we cannot be silent. We cannot feign ignorance nor distance ourselves from the issues at hand. We must actively engage in productive dialogue and create sustainable efforts to move ourselves and our communities toward equity.
If you are finding yourself struggling to process, please reach out to the resources available to you. Please use whatever means you can to continue to be your best self because here at WUSM, this journey we’re embarking upon requires everyone.
Eva Aagaard, MD
Professor of Medicine
Senior Associate Dean for Education
Thomas M. De Fer, MD
Professor of Medicine
Associate Dean for Medical Education
Lisa Moscoso, MD, PhD
Professor of Pediatrics
Associate Dean for Student Affairs
Kaytlin Reedy-Rogier, MSW
Co-Lead, Community Engagement
Instructor, Division of General Medicine
Audrey Coolman, MPH
Co-Lead, Community Engagement
Office of Education
Eva’s Excerpt December 2020
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” — William Arthur Ward
I came across this quote in contemplating my words for this month’s excerpt. It struck a chord on a number of levels but it especially resonates right now in this incredibly challenging moment we are facing as an education team in the current surge of COVID-19. We have heard from learners across programs and stages of training that they are struggling. Not everyone, but too many. We have heard the same from our staff and faculty. Of course, this is likely multifactorial—COVID fatigue; lack of social engagement; fear of illness in self or family; fear of impact of COVID and the changing environment on career or learning; unpredictability of everything; loss of things that are usual, normal, routine; chronic system issues exacerbated by the current situation; and now the looming next wave all in the setting of the holidays. It’s too much and it’s hard to know how we as educators can help. This quote gave me an idea of what our most important role may be—that of a role model.
I know what you’re thinking—you’re nuts lady. I’m barely holding it together myself. I know. And I also know that we are asking you to do so much, including perhaps working in places you haven’t in a long time and doing things you don’t normally do whether that’s teaching on zoom or making a video or designing online simulation or being redeployed to a new clinical area or juggling all this with kids in online and ever changing schedules. This ask is hopefully a small one compared to those, but can also be hard. I am asking for all of us to role model empathy for everyone around us—recognizing that their suffering is real and hard. I am asking that we role model the finest virtues of these health professions—compassion, a dedication to doing what is right for our patients, learners, staff and colleagues, and a willingness to pass on those values to the next generation. We will not be perfect at this—no one is, and especially no one is during a crisis. But trying and acknowledging when we fail, that we too are human, but we are trying, is perhaps the most inspiring thing we can do as teachers and as people at this time. I am sorry to ask for one more thing and yet, I know that this community can inspire. And importantly, I believe that inspiration through role modeling empathy and compassion is exactly what we need to get through this next wave of challenge.
Thank you to all of you for your work, your flexibility, your dedication. You inspire me and you give me hope. I am thankful for you each and every day. I look forward to the days that we can refocus on the mundane and day to day tasks of the work we love. I believe that day will come soon—hopefully no later than the fall. I leave you with some of my favorite quotes from my favorite HIT workout coach Adrian Williams:
“When it gets hard, dig deep.”
“You are kind. You are powerful. You are strong.”
Together we can do almost anything. Be well and stay safe.
In all honesty, I am struggling. I am struggling as a leader to know what to say to you all right now as we enter what for many of us, including me, is one of the most challenging times of many of our lives. We are beaten down by the COVID-19 pandemic, racism, violence, natural disasters, and political drama. We are tired, emotionally drained, and in some cases burned out, anxious or depressed. We are facing another surge in COVID-19 cases. We are experiencing this surge as we face a pivotal and emotionally charged election. Finally, we are facing this surge as we head into the holiday season, a time when many of us look forward to longstanding traditions and time with family, friends and loved ones. The things we often look forward to feel stressful, hard to navigate and hard to make decisions about both personally (for me anyways) and as a community. Yet again, we are asked to just do our best, based on the science, based on our mission as a school and medical community, and based on our personal needs to ensure we can accomplish what must be done.
For myself, when I am faced with times like these, the first thing I tend to do is to look carefully at myself- how am I doing? Am I holding up ok? How do I know? What do I need to do to make sure I can do what I need to do in order to meet my expectations and those of the people I serve? Do I need help? From whom do I need it? What do I need specifically? This is in no way to say that all this is on us as individuals. Definitely not. It is only to say that we are all in different places and may have different needs, but we all have needs and one thing that it is hard for others to do for us is identify these needs without our help.
I see my role as a leader in times like these is as encouraging you to ask for help (from your supervisor, faculty, deans, program directors, family, friends, and professionals as needed), responding to your requests when I can, and providing you with information to help you guide your choices and decisions. To this end, know that I am acutely aware of the balance we are each trying to achieve between physical safety and emotional support right now and that for some of you, these issues feel at odds with each other. Here is some information to help you make your decisions:
Now more than ever, we must come together (physically distanced of course) as a community to support each other- all of us- students, residents, fellows, staff, faculty. We are stronger together. We need to help each other get through this. Ask for help, offer help, give help freely; listen and share about your individual and our common experience. Together, we will not only get through this, but ultimately learn from it and hopefully be better for it. We are incredibly resilient and capable individuals. As a community, we have already demonstrated remarkable accomplishments from revisioning legacy curriculum to launching a new curriculum to moving to online interviews and so much more. Thank you for all you are doing for this institution and for each other. I am ever grateful to be part of this community of learners and educators.
Racial Equity, Civic, and Community Engagement Resources
Racial Equity, Civic, and Community Engagement Resources: