Harvard Macy Community Blog

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

Medical School in Three Years?

Do you think today’s physicians can be trained in three years instead of four?  There are advocates in both camps.  Opponents would say that to shorten medical education is to shortchange the training necessary for competent physicians.  Supporters would cite the benefits of accelerated pathways, including individualized training, competency based education, the option to reduce escalating student debt and the opportunity to align education to societal needs.  Many accelerated programs, such as FMAT (Family Medicine Accelerated Track) at Texas Tech, focus on training primary care physicians in underserved areas. 

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Educating physicians to navigate the complexity and uncertainty of clinical care

The practice of medicine involves inherent ambiguity. As physicians we seek to provide “best” practice for our patients, setting black-and-white standards in a greyscale space of clinical care. We develop simplified algorithms to aid us in navigating medicine’s complexity and uncertainty—tools that are evaluated in research studies and honed through quality improvement initiatives. With the drive to standardize care comes a challenge for medical education: How can we train physicians to use these evidence-based tools, while being comfortable in the face of uncertainty and thinking critically about how they integrate them into practice?

Recent Comments
Nicolas Thibodeau Jarry M.D

Accepting our own vulnerabilit...

This is a very interesting and thought-provoking article. We have the tendency to focus a lot in medical education on processes (t... Read More
Tuesday, 06 September 2016 10:10 PM
Gregg Wells

Responding to ambiguity and un...

What can resolve ambiguity and uncertainty? In many cases, more information. An ever-present reality for medical decision-making... Read More
Wednesday, 14 September 2016 12:12 AM
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Leading innovative change in the assessment of physical therapy students in clinical education in Canada

In 2009, physical therapy (PT) clinical education in Canada reached a pivotal point.  Canadian university entry-to-practice PT educational programs were faced with the challenge where the current assessment form being used to assess student performance in clinical education was not meeting the needs of Canadian educational institutions.  Therefore, we needed to either adopt another measure or develop our own Canadian measure that was reflective of Canadian PT practice.  We decided to develop a new Canadian measure and I seized this incredible opportunity to lead this national initiative.  

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Transforming Case-Method Teaching for Online Platforms

Co-authored by: S. Bryn Austin and Holly Gooding


Professional schools have long been leaders in developing teaching cases covering a vast array of topics, from business to policy to medicine to law. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has embraced the case-method teaching model and launched an online library of its collection of public health-focused teaching cases to make them accessible to faculty locally and globally.  Most of these teaching cases are designed for traditional, in-person classroom implementation, but learners and working public health professionals need greater access to curricula designed for online delivery. So how do we take the traditional case-method, designed based on the principles of student-centered active learning, to the online space?

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Creating new models for academic publishing – a job to be done?

I traveled to my first Harvard Macy Institute leadership course in 2004 as a pathology course director from the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine (JCESOM), a small, community-based medical school located in the heart of rural Appalachia. It was at this time that my life pivoted, redirecting to a mindset that saw opportunities instead of obstacles and dreams bigger than myself.

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