Being a health professional means a lifetime of learning—and educating. The Wake Forest University Medical Education Certificate Program for Health Professions Students (MECP) provides the school’s medical, physician assistant (PA) and nurse anesthetist students a unique opportunity to gain focused training in medical education in an interprofessional setting.
“In health care, we are constantly called upon to be educators of our patients and peers,” said Sam Fabian, a third-year medical school student who participated in the program. “Through MECP, I learned about models of education, teaching frameworks, and the importance of giving and receiving feedback. I hope to apply these skills to my future practice, ideally through resident education and technology integration.”
MECP was developed as a collaboration between the Wake Forest University School of Medicine MD and PA programs after faculty members and students identified a need for more training in medical education. In the three years since it began, more than 70 students have completed the program.
“I went into medical education without really understanding what it entailed and thus had to learn on the job and get other training,” said MECP co-director Michelle K. Keating, DO, assistant professor, family and community medicine. “Most health professionals have to attend conferences or specialized workshops or obtain further degrees to get the kind of training that is available through the certificate.”
|“In health care, we are constantly called upon to be educators of our patients and peers.” - Sam Fabian
Learning How to TeachThe certificate program is administered through training sessions that take place once or twice a month for six months. These sessions are supplemented by hands-on assignments to help students practice what they learn and consider the logistical components of medical education. Students also receive feedback on their teaching skills and conduct a capstone research project related to medical education. MECP participants have published papers on their capstone projects and presented the work at national and international conferences.
For the capstone project, Fabian’s group examined whether QR codes could be useful for capturing faculty feedback — which was previously provided verbally — within the clinical skills curriculum at Wake Forest. “Introducing a new system was more challenging than I expected, and I learned the value of feedback for making improvements to the system,” said Fabian. “I also learned the importance of educating participants about why a change is being made to better communicate the end goal and gain support in the process.”
An Interprofessional Approach
The certificate program lends itself to an interprofessional approach because it covers medical education concepts that are applicable to all health professions. For most aspects of the program, groups are assigned randomly, giving participants important experience in working with learners who are in different stages of training and various health professional programs.
“We talk with the students about the fact that if you’re undertaking an educational project, there is a high likelihood that someone else has approached a similar problem before,” said MECP co-director Caroline Sisson, PA-C, assistant professor, PA studies. “However, tapping into that knowledge requires breaking down silos within different programs or professions. The collaboration between the faculty that participate in MECP is one way we can model this.”
Keating adds that even though interprofessional collaboration is critical for patient care, there are few medical education programs that cross disciplines. “MECP represents a place where we can have a unified front and hopefully build connections among the different professions that will, in the long term, translate into better patient care,” she said.