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How can we help teachers teach?


Michael Barone, M.D., M.P.H., is a pediatrician with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an associate dean of faculty development and he says support for teachers was lacking at his institution. So what did his school do about it? They created an ambitious program to help teachers teach. 

Host: We're broadcasting live at the AAMC in Baltimore 2015, and this year's conversation is about change. What needs to change in health care? And I know there's a ton of things, but we're asking each person what specific thing is on their mind right now.

Announcer: Asking questions, seeking solutions. Algorithms for Innovation. Live from Baltimore at the AAMC 2015.

Barone: I'm Michael Barone. I'm a pediatrician at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. I'm also an associate dean for faculty development and education.

Host: Michael, tell me about what had to change at your institution.

Barone: I think what we have to do at our institution is continue and advance the culture of teaching and learning. We have a biomedically focused research institution. It's always been known for excellence in education, but increasingly, we're hearing from our younger faculty that they want to have skills to promote teaching and learning, and they want those skills to be as well-honed as their research skills and as their clinical care skills.

Host: So up until this point, they feel they haven't got enough information or training on teaching. You want to fix that. How are you going to do that?

Barone: Yeah, that's correct. I mean, we have faculty who have been in our institution for ten years who say they've never been taught how to teach, yet they teach every day. One of the ways that we're going to change this is by building a foundations of teaching course at our institution.

It'll be a collaborative effort between the Dean's Office and the Institute for Excellence in Education and a very well-regarded program that we have at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. This will be a program that's open to all, with a specific focus on junior faculty, to build their teaching skills so that they can teach and promote education in their clinical space, in their research space if they're a basic scientists, etc.

Host: So there are other programs like this at other institutions. What makes yours different, unique? Was there a certain problem you were trying to solve at your institution?

Barone: Yeah, as we were envisioning the program, we talked to a few other institutions. Many have a mandatory program, as many as 13 sessions. We're going to start a little smaller than that as we're beginning to institute culture change at our institution. But what we plan to do is create a hybrid program where some of it is online, some of it is live and then really begin to whet the appetite for people to dive into some of our other programs, in particular, website programs that we have and longitudinal programs that last as long as nine months.

Host: Do you feel that there are going to be some barriers that you're going to have to overcome? And what are they?

Barone: Well, in academic medicine right now, there has to be a focus on efficiency and making sure that clinical care helps to support the entire mission. So many of our faculty are very busy clinically. Why would I want to teach? Where am I going to find time to teach? So we're overcoming some of those cultural barriers with a focus on being able to do everything well. While you're seeing patients, you should be teaching, but teaching more efficiently. That's the way we're going to institute cultural change.

Host: So don't teach more, teach smarter?

Barone: Exactly.

Host: Not teach longer. I don't know if that really applies or not.

Barone: That works.

Host: What would you change? I know this is a relatively new program getting ready to launch, but have you learned any lessons thus far that you can pass to someone else who is thinking of implementing this. What would you have done differently so far?
Barone: I think it's just a lesson of feeling empowered, so at any institution, we all have mandatory requirements for our research training and compliance. We all have our clinical training and compliance. This is one that we feel is mandatory, and I would encourage every institution to think of their training, their faculty for teaching and learning, as part of the mandatory efforts of what they do every day.

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