Staying Ahead of the Curve in Education
Paul B. Rothman, M.D.
Date: January 1, 2014
Many people kick off a new year with a resolution. Call us overachievers, but at Johns Hopkins Medicine, we are heading into 2014 with six lofty goals—or strategic priorities, as we call them—one of which is to lead the world in the education and training of physicians and biomedical scientists.
Some might argue that we already do this. It’s undeniable that our medical and graduate school programs are among the best in the nation. We have the country’s number one programs in biomedical engineering and internal medicine, according to U.S. News & World Report, and we’re in the top five in cell biology, microbiology, neuroscience, immunology, biological science, geriatrics, HIV/AIDS, pediatrics and women’s health.
Can we do better? I think so.
There are areas—for example, interdisciplinary collaboration and the training of primary care doctors—where we aren’t fulfilling our potential. And as times change for academic medical centers, we want to keep apace of the trends in medicine. That’s why, as part of our strategic plan, Roy Ziegelstein and David Hellmann are surveying our teaching methods to make sure we continue to provide a world-class education and produce highly successful graduates.
We’re planning more development programs for faculty and testing innovative instructional models, such as Flipping the Classroom, where students watch a lecture at their own pace online at home and then come to class prepared for deep discussion. But before we refine how we teach, we have to assess what we teach. We’ve established two expert panels—one in the life sciences and another in clinical medicine—to do a “self-study” to make sure we’re not teaching outdated scientific concepts or modeling wasteful medical tests and procedures.
A thread that runs throughout the Strategic Plan is enhancing collaboration. Roy Ziegelstein and I are convinced that great things happen when we bring together Johns Hopkins minds from disparate backgrounds. To spur the exchange of ideas, we’re hosting monthly seminars called Partnering Toward Discovery, where M.D. and Ph.D. students gather to learn about ongoing research programs and clinical applications. Following each of these lectures is a social hour in which every attendee is instructed to introduce him or herself to at least one new person.
It’s also imperative that we track the accomplishments of our trainees and alumni to ensure that a Johns Hopkins education continues to produce the nation’s most creative and outstanding leaders in medicine and biomedical science. To this end, we are establishing an Office of Assessment and Evaluation to analyze and disseminate data on student performance and on graduates of our programs.
Finally, when it comes to training the next generation of leaders, we need to do better in the area of primary care. Remember how I started this column with a rundown of our top-five specialties? In primary care, we rank 24th. That’s not good enough, especially given the critical role primary care physicians will play as insurance coverage expands, baby boomers age and more people manage chronic medical conditions. So we are looking at ways to boost primary care training opportunities.
A vital piece of our tripartite mission is setting a standard of excellence in education to produce tomorrow’s leaders in health care. However, it’s unclear what the health care landscape will look like in the future. That’s why we need to be open to change. Just as the strategic plan is a living document, we at Johns Hopkins Medicine need to keep learning and continuously improving. That goes for faculty and staff as well as students.
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