Harvard Macy Community Blog

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

Rocket Fuel

I finished my family medicine residency training in 1997 and entered practice right away in the small fishing community of Placentia in Newfoundland and Labrador.  I was keen on comprehensive family medicine and razor-sharp-keen to teach it.  It was a delight to lead the development of Placentia into the most popular site for medical students from Memorial University of Newfoundland to do their mandatory rural family medicine rotation.  We were also thrilled to bring back Placentia as a four-month mandatory rural resident training site, also becoming the most popular for that group.

 



Even so, I noticed that I seemed sometimes to be slightly off target with the way I would describe and set things up.  I knew what we were trying to accomplish, yet there seemed to be holes here and there.  Sometimes I could perceive them and knew something was up, but I wasn’t sure exactly what the problems were.  Looking back, I now know I was missing the understanding of the language of education, frameworks of curriculum design, and a vibrant understanding of how people learn. I was running on instinct and what I had picked up from role models.

After four years of rural family medicine practice, I moved to Western University in London, Ontario, to do some more emergency training.  I came up with an idea to develop a fellowship training year in Child Health for family physicians seeking to be the lead in their practice group for children with complex health issues.  I remembered my educational leadership experience in Placentia and knew that I had to somehow get up to speed.  And that's where the Harvard Macy Program for Educators in the Health Professions came in.  I had shared my needs with Dr. Mike Rieder, a senior colleague, and he highly recommend the program, having himself seen its value as a previous participant.

So, off to Boston I went, and I was not disappointed.  Not only did I learn the language of pedagogy and strong frameworks for assessment, curriculum design and evaluation, but I learned so much more.  I learned about how to give and receive peer consultations, how to unlock the magic of education, and some things in leadership that I didn't even know were critical.  It was all rocket fuel for me.

 

I was able to apply all I learned right away.  The Family Medicine Child Health program got up and running and I led the development and implementation of a highly successful new mandatory medical student course that integrated all of their learning.  The things I learned at the Harvard Macy Program enabled me to direct my passion and energy in more effective and efficient ways, bringing rigor to the sometimes crazy educational ideas I have.  The program helped me see clearly through curricula, accreditation, challenges, and opportunities to collaboratively create a host of unique medical leadership workshops that participants tell our team are perfectly on target and transformative in their work.

When I look back from the Harvard Macy Program to now, I see a direct role in my career trajectory triggered by my participation. For sure, I have taken other training (most notably my masters work in education at the University of Illinois at Chicago) which has propelled me further, but it was the Harvard Macy Program that enabled me to escape gravity.

I'm in the perfect job for me right now in my career, as associate dean of faculty development at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary.  I have the primary responsibilities of leadership and career development for our faculty members, identification of barriers to success and working with stakeholders to resolve them, and measuring academic productivity and performance to help keep everybody on a great trajectory.  I am absolutely delighted that I get to have the role of helping other people get their own engines running at full throttle and helping them soar.  The Harvard Macy Program was rocket fuel for me, launching me on the most incredible academic medicine journey.

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Tuesday, 30 November 2021