Self-Reflection Through a Glass, Darkly

By Josh Hopps

It is the end of the USMLE Step 1 exam season in undergraduate medical education.  If UME is a solar system, Step 1 is the sun, irradiating and superheating some, leaving others cold and frozen out, and supporting life for those who thrive in intense and constrained circumstances.  Its enormous gravity pulls students toward it at the cost of medical school grades, well-being, and finances1, and impinging on medical schools’ autonomy in determining their UME curricula.  Students whose single-minded purpose for years was getting into medical school very quickly shift their focus to the Step 1 exam because of its outsized emphasis in the residency selection process2.   In years past the Step 1 conversation began at the beginning of the second year of medical school or at the end of the first year for an ambitions few.  Students now ask about First Aid for Step 1 before they’ve even matriculated…
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Medical Education Research and IRB Review

By Emily Anderson

Medical school curricula now emphasize evidence-based medicine.  We also need to prioritize evidence-based educational strategies.  There are some great educational innovations happening at our medical school, but too few publications highlighting these.  Conducting research on medical education faces many barriers, not least of all, lack of funding.  Publication in any peer-reviewed academic journal usually requires some evaluation data; to get in a top-tier journal, you need solid research methodology, clearly defined outcome measures, and sufficient sample sizes.  Medical education journals are notorious for rejecting small pilot studies, which is discouraging.  Perhaps even more daunting are the Institutional Review Boards (IRBs).  Studies indicate that medical education researchers face challenges in IRB submission and review (1,2).  Unfortunately, we often end up implementing new programs – and maybe even doing a solid program evaluation – but never sharing what we’ve learned with colleagues outside our own institution…

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A Journey to the Border: A Reflection of the Other Side

By Jeff Ni

“A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.” ― Ronald Reagan

Today, immigration is a multifaceted topic, and oftentimes, the political narrative surrounding immigration is rife with dread. Much of the conversation is driven by fear, not of the Mexican, but of the even more terrifying unknown. I would venture that few people who have an “informed” opinion on border policy have sacrificed the time to genuinely hear the situation of the migrant. Even fewer have probably visited the border itself.

As a medical student at a pioneer institution for the acceptance of DACA students, I recognized my own ignorance on immigration, and I decided to participate in a summer trip to Tucson to learn from an outstanding educational organization called Borderlinks. My trip was brief but sufficient for me to realize that the situation was dire, and that our country, sadly and profoundly, had lost control…
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Things Other Than Transplant Surgeons

Hearing the Call:  A Feature on How Physicians and Medical Educators Came to Understand Their Vocation

By Sarah E. Stumbar

Sometime during middle school, I became engrossed in a series of young adult novels about children dying of tragic diseases: heart failure (saved by a heart transplant!) leukemia, cystic fibrosis. I wanted to be a doctor! I wanted to be written into these stories, encompassed by both their tears and their triumphs.

As I continued to read, I traveled with my mom to a conference in Accra, Ghana. We visited the old fortresses of the country’s slave coast and walked through the city; forever kept on the outside by our skin color, which unequivocally meant that we were from elsewhere. The markets selling imported goods from China, the people living exposed on stretches of pavement, and the half-constructed cement buildings spoke to me of immense poverty. I tried to reconcile how this world could coexist with my own comfortable life in New York. The people we met spoke of the AIDS crisis, orphans and a lack of health care resources. The needs were overwhelming to my fourteen year-old-self…
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Social Scientists in Medical Education: Important Contributors to the Educational Mission

By Bobbie Ann Adair White and Leila Diaz

When we began our careers in medical education in the early 2000s, our roles (Student Affairs and Admissions) were adjacent to those of educators but not truly intertwined in content development and delivery. We found there were opportunities to create and lobby for co-curricular social sciences content, but often these were ancillary to the basic and clinical sciences. However, in the mid 2000s content such as leadership, and interprofessional education began to gain traction, and the popularity of small group delivery methods grew. These trends opened doors for social scientists to contribute more meaningfully within the curriculum…
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