Harvard Macy Community Blog

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

Taking Care of Y-O-U in the New Year


Blog co-authors: Kristina Dzara and Beth Pegg Frates

As we enter 2018, the field of health professions education is embracing the notion that we must encourage wellbeing and resilience, and work to empower ourselves, our colleagues, and our learners to prioritize self-care.

A busy schedule with multiple time demands can make the goal of effective work-life integration seem elusive – if not impossible. But it is possible when you are equipped with effective tips and tools that guide you to practice routine exercise, restful sleep, stress resilience, and healthy eating. Certainly, there is no magic pill for a healthy lifestyle. In this post, we offer a few strategies you can implement today. Even small changes have the ability to impact your life in a big way.

 1) Stress: Stress is “an innate survival response in which certain hormones are released, increasing blood flow to the brain or heart. The stress response leads to an energy surge, enabling a person to flee dangerous situations. Ongoing stress, however, can sap energy and damage health.” Some stress is good for us, and in fact can help us get in a work zone. Yet, when the tensions run high at work, we can benefit from an “in the moment” stress reduction technique that works. Here is an easy suggestion:

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#HMIchat December 2017 – Cost and Value in Health Professions Education

Jonathan Foo, Margaret Hay, Stephen Maloney

Cost and value are so pervasive in our day to day decision-making, that it often slips by unnoticed. The December #HMIChat brought the concepts of cost and value in medical education out of the dark and kicked it around like an old wallet – yielding an insightful and passionate discussion touching upon the themes of understanding value in the context of contemporary teaching and learning practices, applying cost and value deliberately with appropriate measurement, and developing a common language for cost and value.

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#MedEdPearls December 2017 Sharing Stories

What’s your story: the power of narrative medicine?
Inspiration for this #MedEdPearls goes to @annieweisman1 & @dmullinsdms from their recent storytelling workshop at The Generalists in Medical Education.

 Storytelling is a communication method that has stood the test of time.  Its use in medical education is seen across the continuum to engender motivation to learn on topics across a diverse spectrum: empathy, well-being, professionalism, reflection, etc. 

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#HMIChat November 2017: Social Media in Medical and Health Professional Education

Guest Moderator Dr Lauren Licatino reflects on last month’s #HMIchat about what value Social Media can bring to Medical and Health Profession Education. The chat was rich, with lots of discussions and a large amount of both scientific and practical tips emerged.

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The Ultimate Goal of Medical Education

Medical education is, broadly, how we educate physicians to care for patients. Sometimes it can be difficult to see this ultimate goal in our very busy everyday life. As I tend to my busy clinical and educational activities, I find myself stopping and reflecting upon my educational tasks. Am I truly working in the best interest of my faculty, learners and ultimately the patients we serve?

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Next-Levelling Your Conference: Attendees as Co-Producers of Knowledge

What was your role during the last academic conference you attended? One common answer is “an attendee,” which means that you were there but doesn’t provide details regarding what you actually did. Another common answer is “a participant,” which is only a bit more telling because now it suggests that you were taking part in something. These common answers are widely used, but somehow they only convey that someone goes somewhere and does something. From these terms, we simply cannot deduce exactly what roles the conference organizers, speakers, facilitators, and attendees fulfill.

Higher education has been facing the same problem - the terms “teacher” and “student” imply that one teaches and the other studies. But this leaves the details of roles and expectations to each person’s interpretation. For this reason, there have been attempts to employ terms that are better at defining the nature of the relationship. Metaphors such as “client,” “customer,” “partner,” and “consumer” have been used. These metaphors imply different roles and expectations for every party in the educational system and also how they relate to each other.

These terms are equally applicable to academic conferences. A client means you pay the organizers for a professional service. A customer means the organizers have to please you to get your money. A partner means you partially bear the same set of responsibilities as the organizers. With these definitions in mind, think back again to your role at the last conference you were in: Were you a client? A customer? A partner? Or a consumer?

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#MedEdPearls November 2017: Converting Teaching into Scholarship

Ten Steps to Convert Basic Teaching into Publishable Scholarship

The purpose of scholarly teaching is to move beyond basic teaching, which is routine and non-changing.  Scholarly teaching is informed by pedagogical literature as well as student evaluations, peer evaluation, and self-reflection.  The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) goes beyond scholarly teaching by  disseminating  research findings to impact educational practice beyond one’s classroom walls and serves to bridge the gap between teaching and research roles of the academic. 

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#HMIchat October 2017: “Learners-as-Educators


The Caffe Nero on Longwood Avenue couldn’t have been a more perfect place to reflect with Teresa Soro and Elissa Hall on the October #HMIChat I moderated, and not just because of the great lattes. October’s chat on “Learners-as-Educators” discussed how to develop health professions learners at every level into teachers themselves. I love the pay-it-forward nature of this idea, that everyone has something to contribute to and to inspire the next generation of learners. It had been at Caffe Nero that I decided--as a trainee--to dedicate my career to medical education, so returning there to talk about this topic resonated deeply.

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Holistic Review: Fad or Future of Medical School Admissions?

Holistic admission policies have been utilized for decades by undergraduate institutions. Instead of solely relying on test scores and a grade point average to select students, holistic admission policies provide admission committees the latitude to admit students who can meet the academic rigors of the institution while embodying the school’s mission through personal characteristics and experiences. This type of admission policy has moved into the graduate and professional school arena. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the “Advancing the Holistic Review Initiative” was established in 2007 and promotes the review of the medical school application through the evaluation of metrics, attributes, and experiences. A 2014 report, “Holistic Admissions in the Health Professions,” found an increase in the number of professional schools, specifically those offering health-related programs, that subscribe to a holistic admission policy (para. 8). It is widely believed that holistic admission practices diversify the institution’s student body. 

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Digital Natives in Medical School: Reflections of a…Digital Native?

It’s a beautiful Wednesday in Boston, and, more importantly, day four of the 2017 edition of the Harvard Macy Institute: Health Care Education 2.0 course. My feelings of imposter syndrome are just starting to fade as the faculty and scholars, leaders in and pioneers of medical education from around the world, welcome me, a medical student and millennial, into their ranks. Powered by a shared desire to improve medical education, inspiring company, and, of course, plenty of coffee, we are all discovering how technology can enhance the way we learn and teach. But for just a brief moment, I wanted to take a step back and think about our audience, the end-user, the learner, and share my personal take on how the idea of “digital nativism” has impacted my journey through medical education so far.

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The Accidental Academic: Bridging the Gap between Town and Gown

In the Middle Ages, students studying at European universities adopted the practice of wearing long black gowns. Not only did these gowns serve the practical purpose of keeping the students warm as they studied in unheated buildings, they were also a social symbol in that they were unsuited for doing manual labor. The distinctive gowns effectively distinguished students at academic institutions from the rest of the townspeople, giving rise to the phrase “town and gown.” In modern times, town and gown has often been used to reference the unfortunate tensions that can arise between college students and the surrounding community when there is a perceived gap between values and culture. Three years ago, I made my own transition from town to gown when I left my community practice to become faculty at a new medical school. As I simultaneously tried to adapt to academia while my medical school tried to integrate into the surrounding community, I began to reflect on what it means to be ‘academic’ versus ‘non-academic’ and how clinicians of both types interact.


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#MedEdPearls October 2017: Coaching for Peak Performance

COACHING for peak professional performance is making a strong appearance in academic health science organizations.  But, use of the word coaching can be confusing with so many applications including life coaching, academic coaching, and peer coaching. 

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#HMIchat September 2017- The “Post-AMEE chat”

During AMEE 2017 there were a few recurring concepts. One of them was Equity and how we, within health professions education, can both be more aware of our own biases and promote equity in health professions education. The subject resonated with a lot of us HMI alumni that attended the conference and we decided to see what our HMI community thought via our September Tweet Chat. 

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5 Faculty Development Trends Noticed at AMEE

The Harvard Macy Institute would like to thank our alumni, Eric Gantwerker, Atipong Pathanasethpong, and Arabella Simpkin, for co-authoring this blog.


A buzz of activity and energized bodies met us as we arrived for the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) 2017 pre-conference in Helsinki on faculty development. Recognizing the importance of faculty development in medical education, this pre-conference is in its 4th year with thought leaders from throughout the globe. Overall, there is no doubt “faculty development” was among the highlights at AMEE 2017, with 5 major trends coming to the forefront, which we detail below:

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To Blueprint or not to Blueprint…that is not the question!

When I started working on the SaudiMED Framework project one year ago, I didn’t know that I would be working with all the medical and basic science department supervisors, coordinators, physicians and instructors! The project was intended to align the all course objectives with the SaudiMED competencies, in order to develop blueprints.

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#MedEdPearls September 2017: Retrieval-based Learning

How do we help students make learning “stick”?  Retrieval-based learning may be the answer.  Purdue researcher Jeffrey Karpicke, PhD, studies how the mind and memory work and suggests that repeated, spaced retrieval leads to greater learning results.  This approach to learning could influence curriculum design, learning session organization, and assessment activities. 

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Interactive Video Blog Series: Design Thinking in Medical Education: creating a new school at Penn State University

Interactive Video Blog Series: Design Thinking in Medical Education: creating a new school at Penn State University

​What is design thinking and how can it be applied to the creation of a new medical school? In this video, Dr. Holly Gooding interviews the 5 student design partners for the new Penn State College of Medicine University Park Regional Campus. These 5 innovators were accepted to Penn State College of Medicine in 2016 but delayed the start of school for one year in order to design their own new curriculum. Watch our video to learn how they applied design thinking to create a whole new type of medical school at the University Park Regional Campus, and join us in congratulating them on realizing the fruition of their work this fall.

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What was discussed during the #HMIchat August 2017 on - What does it take to be a #MedEd Leader?

What was discussed during the #HMIchat August 2017 - What does it take to be a #MedEd Leader

Our 19th twitter chat was on Wednesday (August 2nd), at 9 pm eastern standard time. 

The chat was moderated by:Komal Bajaj (Assessment '14/ Leaders '16) 

Questions that were focused on: 
Q1: What are the attributes of a great leader?
Q2: What stategies/tools have you used to develop your own leadership?
Q3: What are effective ways to teach/train others about leadership?
Q4: What are the key questions to ask our team and our organization to continue to develop?

Please copy and paste the link below into a browser to view

Moderator bio:
Komal Bajaj is a perpetual learner, OB/GYN-geneticist, simulationista, and quality-improvement enthusiast. She is Clinical Director of New York City's Health + Hospital's Simulation Center and practices clinically in the Bronx. @komalbajajMD

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#MedEdPearls August 2017: How Adults Learn

When medical students matriculate they are somewhere between child (pedagogy) and adult (andragogy) learners.  We assume adults learn differently than children because they’ve had more life experiences, are motivated by their perceptions and personal needs, have an interest to direct their learning experiences, and have greater needs to apply learning in and to specific contexts.

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The Curious State of Self: Efficacy, Awareness, Disclosure and Reflection

Feedback conversations have fascinated me for nearly a decade. It is an undisputed opinion that feedback is the cornerstone of performance assessment and growth. Experts have been writing about this topic for decades. If we go outside the health professions education world, the business literature also abounds in feedback; they tend to focus on performance ‘appraisal’ and why it is important to have regular conversations on this topic with their employees. Business organizations are serious about performance of their teams and regular appraisal conversations are essential for effective teamwork.

So why do health professions educators continue to view upcoming feedback conversations with trepidation? And why do our learners at every level continue to disparage the quality of feedback provided to them? These adult learners are intelligent professionals who should be calibrating their own performance astutely and accurately and seeking feedback regularly- but are they?

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