Where we recognize and and learn from one of our members each month…
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at UMASS Medical School – Baystate Health
- What is your most memorable moment in teaching?
Sometimes when you teach routinely -you do something over and over – you have your spiel down and you make the same joke each time. My student procedure lab was like this after just a few months. These labs didn’t stand out to me until I got an email from a former student. He wrote me at the end of a night shift to tell me that the lab saved him and his patient last night. He found himself with a patient needing an LP for possible subarachnoid hemorrhage. He was on with very little staff and no one had the skill or experience to do the LP. He remembered the model, the steps and the keys to success. In the middle of the night he duplicated what we taught and got the LP, and it was a SAH.
My procedure lab isn’t sexy, cutting edge or exciting but this routine teaching experience helped save a life. The impact we have as teachers isn’t always obvious. It is ripples in the water spreading out slowly and these small moments have a huge impact.
- Who or what is your biggest influence?
My mother was a high school teacher. She instilled a deep appreciation for learning, integrity and mentorship. She taught by example that a teacher doesn’t teach facts but creates a safe environment where learners and teachers share and grow together. She was the teacher you went to with your secrets, fears, and dreams. She listened and then got you to solve the problem yourself. Fifteen years after retiring, students continue writing, calling, and visiting her. As I began teaching I found myself mirroring her style and quickly evolving from teaching EM to mentoring and guiding learners through their process. Coffee shops, my kitchen counter and our med rooms are frequent sites for my mentoring. At residency fairs former students and residents will run up to hug me and check on our team at Baystate – this is my mother’s influence.
- Any advice for other clerkship directors?
Take the time to work clinically with each student, then sit down with each to give summative feedback and help move them forward. Every student is unique and spending time with each one allows you to see the nuance beyond their grades, scores and personality. Try listening more than talking and use open ended questions just like with patients – it is more efficient and effective.
- What is your favorite part about being and educator/director?
Knowing I’m not just training my residents, nurses, techs, APs, students, but everyone they teach in the future is what keeps me going on the rough days. While the adrenaline rush of doing a procedure is tantalizing, the rush of seeing that joy and accomplishment on another is priceless. Teaching allows for such an enormous impact well beyond what I could ever do as a single doctor. Hearing of my learner’s successes is the best feedback I get.
- Any interesting factoids you would like to share?
My first few years I worked in community medicine and developed my areas of greatest weaknesses, filling in my pot holes and developing my teaching style with rotating residents and the local medical school. While this is an unusual path it has given me an enormous advantage in both confidence and dedication.
When you find an area of passion within EM – take time to explore it and learn. This will imbue your teaching, and allow you to shift gears into your niche when the time is right
for you. My niche is airway – while not original it is tremendously rewarding. Hearing scenarios, reviewing literature, and challenging myself to organize that next didactic keeps my creativity going.
Life is about the choices you make. I have two amazing children. They inspire and drive me. Balance between home and work is a constant challenge, one solution I’ve come up with is to make them a part of my teaching by having them at student dinners, Journal clubs, and letting them lend their talents to my didactics. My decision to share my teaching with them allows us be a part of each other’s time when we are together and apart.