Med students teach teaching

A group of Yale medical students is launching its school’s first Medical Education Interest Group to help make doctors better teachers next week.

Michael Peluso MED ’13 said the organization, called MedEd, consists of medical students interested in developing teaching skills and faculty who will join as both students and mentors. Officially instituted as a registered organization in January, the group will aid the development of teaching skills among future doctors in ways that previous medical school programs and courses have not, Peluso said.

“All doctors are educators, since they teach their patients on health and diseases,” Chung Sang Tse MED ’15, one of the group’s organizers, said. “Doctors also teach residents and students, focusing even more on the link between education and medicine. But are they trained to teach? Are they really good teachers?”

MedEd will meet next Tuesday to formally launch the program to the rest of the medical community, Peluso said. The group’s goals include providing a forum for people interested in medical education, and connecting students and faculty, he said. One of the features of the group, member Hilary Wang MED ’15 said, is that unlike most interest groups on campus, theirs aims to encompass all students, residents and faculty members at the school.

Pelsuo said that he began to consider forming an interest group after attending last year’s Northeastern Group of Educational Affairs conference, in which several schools showcased their methods for incorporating education training into their curricula. He said that two of the strongest medical education programs that inspired him to bring the idea to Yale are at George Washington University Medical Center and the University of Chicago School of Medicine, which offer medical education as a separate track. After sending an email in December to the medical school community, Peluso said he received responses indicating campuswide interest in medical education.

One of the group’s aims for this spring is to develop the curriculum for a medical education elective, a two-week intensive program that is set to be piloted this summer, Peluso said.

The group also aims to initiate mentorship programs for faculty and students and monthly workshops for skill development. One of the group’s projects includes setting up a database of available opportunities for medical students to build skills as teachers, which include working as teaching assistants for histology and anatomy classes, and tutoring first-year students.

So far, more than 35 faculty members and over 60 students have registered to attend next Tuesday’s meeting, Peluso said. He added that medical school faculty and staff have been very supportive of MedEd, and that the group did not expect such a positive response. Recently, he added, medical schools are recognizing the “clinician educator” as a possible post-medical school option. Instead of recognition according to the number of published papers or patients, they are noted for their teaching ability.

Janet Hafler, the medical school’s assistant dean for educational scholarship and the group’s primary advisor, said although many doctors are involved in teaching, very few have any training in education.

She added that medical school administrators and faculty have informally discussed the need for better medical education training in the past. The school’s clinical skills class is one of the few current courses in which students teach each other, she said.

The next Northeastern Group of Educational Affairs conference will take place March 23-25 at Tufts University School of Medicine. The medical school will provide funding for four students to attend the conference.

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