Yale’s medical education community celebrated the 10th anniversary of Medical Education Day at Yale (Med Ed Day) on June 9, 2022. Yale School of Medicine’s (YSM) Teaching and Learning Center (TLC), which implements and hosts Med Ed Day each year, launched the conference within one year after the TLC was established. This half-day conference, which includes a keynote address, small group workshops, oral presentations, and a poster session focused on medical education research and innovation, now attracts over 200 faculty, fellows, residents, students, and staff from across Yale’s health professional schools. “The research presented at Medical Education Day often then is presented at national conferences, amplifying its impact and bringing recognition to this scholarship,” says Nancy J. Brown, MD, Jean and David W. Wallace Dean and C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine.
Helping Pave a Career Path
Dana Dunne, MD, MHS, associate professor of medicine (infectious diseases); faculty associate of the TLC, points to two critical roles of Med Ed Day: community building and supporting academic clinician educator success by providing a forum for demonstrating scholarship. Dunne describes how Med Ed Day has propelled “innumerable collaborations across departments,” allowed for new mentor relationships, enhanced faculty development efforts, and fostered a sense of purpose and belonging by connecting education-oriented faculty. “So many faculty who have come together as a result of Med Ed Day are exhilarated to find others who care as much about educational issues that they do,” says Dunne. Additionally, by enabling trainees and faculty to showcase their medical education research, Dunne explains, Med Ed Day helps “pave paths for YSM trainees and faculty for viable careers in academic medical education.”
Med Ed Day, which is CME-accredited and free to attend, also has inspired some faculty to engage deeply in medical education. Thilan Wijesekera, MD, MHS, assistant professor and TLC faculty associate for clinical reasoning educator development, remembers his first Med Ed Day in 2013, when he was an intern. “Having never formally been involved in medical education up until that point, I was delightedly taken aback by the atmosphere and the wonderful manifestations of what medical education could mean. I loved that learners from all different levels, trainings, and departments could share their work to advance the teaching of medicine and knew I wanted that to be part of my future career.” Since that time, he has engaged with Med Ed Day in many capacities—such as poster presenter, workshop leader, project mentor, and panel host. “I have loved being a part of the talent and energy the event inspires and the incredible care and planning from the TLC,” adds Wijesekera.
Q&A: Looking Back and Ahead
In this Q&A, TLC Director and Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Janet Hafler, EdD, reflects on how Med Ed Day has developed over the past decade and future directions it could take. Then, the TLC’s Associate Director for Curriculum and Educator Assessment John Encandela, PhD, shares additional thoughts about the value of Med Ed Day.
Janet Hafler, EdD
Do you recall where the idea came from for the first Med Ed Day?
When I started in my role as director of the TLC, I reached out to all department chairs and residency program directors and asked them what they wanted the TLC to do to elevate and support education. The most common response I received focused on the need for faculty and trainees interested in medical education to have an academic home, as well as a forum to share work and showcase and disseminate their scholarship and research. Med Ed Day was developed to fulfill this need. So, while the TLC is the academic home for faculty and trainees interested in medical education scholarship and research, Med Ed Day can be viewed as our “open house,” when everyone is invited to come and see the exciting and important work that is being done in medical education across the health professional schools at Yale.
What is the most significant change to Med Ed Day since it began?
I am grateful to the many faculty, staff, and students who have collaborated on Med Ed Day over the past decade, enabling the development of engaging content each year. However, one change that I am particularly excited about is the addition of the MHS-Med Ed Pathway Degree graduation. When the two-year program was created in 2017, we realized Med Ed Day would be an ideal venue for some of the graduates to share their educational research and scholarship with the broader Yale health care community. One current MHS-Med Ed Pathway degree program participant first learned about this educational opportunity when he listened to the graduate thesis briefings at Med Ed Day, a very concrete example of the power of this event to advance careers in medical education.
In a perfect world, what would Med Ed Day look like on its 20th Anniversary?
Interprofessional education has been central to Med Ed Day from the start, with all the health professional schools and programs at Yale being included. Representatives from across the schools and programs—MD, PA, PA Online, Nursing, and Public Health— play an active role on the Med Ed Day planning committee. Yale could enhance its leadership role in interprofessional education if we expanded Med Ed Day regionally, and perhaps beyond, to include all of our peer schools nationwide.
Why do you believe Med Ed Day is so important to the health education community at Yale?
The day provides one of the only opportunities for educators to network across departments. Additionally, it has become a springboard for faculty to present at national conferences and for career advancement more generally. Now that Med Ed Day posters are peer reviewed, and prizes are given, participation in Med Ed Day provides important content for CVs, boosting careers in medical education. I am so proud of all of our faculty who are both enhancing medical education at Yale and having a valuable national impact on health education research and scholarship.
John Encandela, PhD
Med Ed Day has been described as a “safe space” for medical educators. What does this mean and why is it important?
By “safe space,” we mean that it is a time and place in which an educator, whether novice or experienced, can share ideas about medical education—even if nascent—without fear of being harshly criticized or told, “that is a bad idea.” Some academic conferences can be competitive and judgmental of one’s work. We seek to make Med Ed Day the polar opposite of this. We want it to be a place where you can share anything, from a kernel of an idea to a complete project, and get helpful feedback and perspectives from peers.
A useful opportunity to do this is by presenting a Med Ed Day poster on an educational innovation or research study. We encourage presenters not to worry if a project is not yet fully designed, but rather to share their ideas to get peers’ best thinking before they further embark on developing or implementing the project. Of course, fully implemented projects are also welcomed as a way of sharing all the important medical education developments emanating from the Yale community.
Why is the peer review process for the design and presentation of posters such a valuable part of Med Ed Day?
In the first year or two of Med Ed Day, there was no peer review process. As the medical education community at Yale expanded, it became apparent that sharing feedback and perspectives from peer reviewers would be beneficial. The review process is guided by the principle of helping prospective poster presenters put forward well-developed posters that provide the most useful information for conference-attendees and the best format for eliciting feedback from attendees. This process has resulted in highly informative and useful presentations.