Harvard Macy Community Blog

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

What my former career as a pipefitter has taught me about medicine so far

“That’s just a little blue-collar ingenuity, my friend” said “Junior” as we all sat there dumbfounded. I was the foreman of a pipefitting crew at a large semiconductor plant in Oregon. Junior was a traveling pipefitter from Florida and a veteran of the trade. For the past two days, we had been racking our brains attempting to rig a difficultly large spool of pipe so that we could make a weld. Our attempts had all failed. But how? We were all certified in rigging and had done this thousands of times. Junior joined our crew earlier that day. When he saw that we were struggling, he walked over, nonchalantly, and changed our approach in a way that none of us had seen before. It worked. We had been too focused on approaching the problem from a single perspective – we were unable to take a step back and reassess our methods.

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Students as Partners: Working with students to co-create medical school curricula

As they listen to lectures, work through group learning activities, and study, students may recognize discrepancies in content, flow of material, repetitions, and more. Obtaining student feedback can be very helpful in guiding curriculum design. Students can provide formative feedback to faculty – for example, if a student did not feel that they learned from a particular lecture, they can offers suggestions for how to improve. In turn, faculty can acknowledge student feedback and respond to it, thus closing the feedback loop (as we see in Kern’s 6 Steps to Curriculum Development). If changes were suggested, the faculty member can respond to the class to explain why they could or could not make that change – which students will appreciate!

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Natasha Louise Yates

Students are just the start...

Well done on a great blog and conversation starter. I agree that it is helpful for students to be engaged with their curriculum d... Read More
Monday, 18 May 2020 6:06 AM
Senthil Kumar Rajasekaran, MD


Hi Natasha, Thank you for your comments and it was a delight to work with Sarina. Below are my thoughts: 1. It is a great idea to ... Read More
Tuesday, 19 May 2020 4:04 PM
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May 2020 #MedEdPearls: Back to Basics with the Plus/Delta During COVID-19

As educators, we must remember to go “back to basics,” in times of uncertainty or when we experience new teaching and learning challenges. Adult learners desire to give and receive feedback about their learning experiences. Educators navigating the transition to online teaching and learning can utilize this in their favor. Although varied methods can be utilized, one simple, efficient, translatable, and free way to do so is to implement the “Plus/Delta Debriefing Model” (Plus/Delta) as part of routine educational quality improvement.

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Empowering Residents How to Teach: One Minute Preceptor on the Wards

Not that long ago, I remember being thrust into the role of a senior resident on wards and being responsible for the educational experience of medical students. I was still trying to figure out how to manage patients - how was I going teach the medical students? How could I be supportive of their learning? It was overwhelming and I remember wishing someone would provide me with additional guidance.

Years later, after finishing a Masters in Medical Education, I gained some tools that allowed me to understand how being a good teacher was an art and a learned skill – not something that comes innately. I wanted to impart some of the skills I had learned to the senior residents in our program so they did not feel as lost as I did all those years ago. Furthermore, residents at our program had expressed a need for guidance in teaching medical students. Thus, I challenged myself to start a curriculum for internal medicine residents focusing on the “One Minute Preceptor” – an educational technique that could be useful for them when teaching on the words.

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Guest — Mohan Puri

Efficiency via innovative teac...

Improving efficiency using innovative teaching techniques for busy health professionals.
Tuesday, 28 April 2020 4:04 PM
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Art as Antidote: Fostering Empathy, Self-Knowledge, and Resilience in the Art Museum

This past spring, my palliative care colleagues and I sat down in front of Kara Walker’s artwork titled The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. For thirty minutes, we slowed down, turned off our cell phones and pagers, and looked slowly and intently at this 58-foot massive cut-paper work. Like the other works of art we studied in the museum, our docent facilitator began the conversation by asking us the following question: What is going on in this artwork?  Some saw a scene of incredible violence. Others saw a satiric commentary on the American Civil War.  One remarked on figures representing different races and identities. Another commented on gender and sexuality portrayed in the work. With each comment, the facilitator asked: What do you see that makes you say that? Our eyes sharpened and our language became more precise with each passing comment.  For example, when a participant was asked to clarify her remark on different eras of American history portrayed in this image, she honed in on the figure in the upper right of the artwork who appears to be wearing a suit. To her, he represented an African American figure from the Civil Rights era more than from the Civil War. The facilitator acknowledged and paraphrased her comment, and then continued: What more can we find?

Recent Comments
Maha Pervaz Iqbal


Thank you for this interesting blog. I resonate with what you say about developing the soft yet critical skills of physicians thr... Read More
Wednesday, 22 April 2020 12:12 AM
Guest — Mark Stephens

Wonderful Post!

Thank you so much for posting this refreshing and highly educational post Ali John! Love the work that you are doing. Keep it up... Read More
Saturday, 25 April 2020 6:06 PM
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