Medical Education, Education Fellowships

Insights from ACEP/CORD Resident Teaching Fellowship

Editor’s note: The ACEP/CORD Teaching Fellowship is an annual offering. Learn more about the opportunity through firsthand thoughts from attendee Breanne Jaqua.

This was the second year of the 3-day ACEP/CORD Resident Teaching Fellowship (RTF) hosted in Dallas. For emergency medicine residents interested in fellowship, teaching, and/or an academic career, it was a singular learning and networking opportunity.

The Resident Teaching Fellowship ran concurrently with the fall session of the ACEP/CORD junior faculty teaching fellowship, so residents could ask questions of academic faculty in all stages of their career, and network with future colleagues.

The resident teaching fellowship, unlike the junior faculty course, does not have a capstone or longitudinal project. Rather, residents are encouraged to simply come as they are, with an open and inquisitive mindset. Mentorship was a very important aspect of this experience; most residents (myself included) left with at least one new mentor to guide them along their journey in medicine. This course is a wonderful way to step back, press pause for a few days, and enjoy the collaboration of similarly engaged and motivated colleagues.

The curriculum of the RTF can be divided in to 5 broad categories: a day in the life of an academic, job preparation, teaching tools, leadership, and pearls of wisdom. There was too much content to mention every lecture, but here are some pearls and highlights.

A Day in the Life of an Academic
The conference began with Saadia Akhtar, MD, FACEP, and Flavia Nobay, MD, presenting on “What to Expect in an Academic Career- Navigating the Day to Day.” This was followed by a panel discussion of medical education, which provided both short-term and long-term insight into a career in academic medicine. At one end of the spectrum of panelists was Guy Carmelli, MD, who just finished his medical education fellowship and master’s degree in education; he is currently working as an academic attending. On the other end of the spectrum was Dr. Nobay and Sandy Schneider, MD. Dr. Nobay is a former EM program director and currently works as an Associate Dean for Admissions at the University of Rochester. Dr. Schneider is the Associate Executive Director of Clinical Affairs at ACEP.  Annahieta Kalantari, DO, FACEP, is midcareer, and working as an associate program director at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center. The discussion was robust, and among the many insights provided one stuck with me: Most panelists ended up in unexpected geographic regions during their journey in academics. This was a great reminder to keep an open mind when considering new opportunities.

CV Keys
One of the most important parts of this conference was the information and feedback provided on CVs. Attendees were asked to update their CVs prior to the conference, and bring them for review. On the first day, Dr. Akhtar gave a presentation on CV do’s and don’ts (FYI, serif font is an absolute no-no), which informed small-group, round-table style feedback with faculty on specific CV questions.

A key take-away was to treat your CV like a living document, and to update it frequently (I update mine once a month). Residents thinking about a career academics should consider adding an “educational innovations” sections to their CV to highlight accomplishments and projects that might not be captured elsewhere. Any blog posts or digital media productions like podcasts can and should be listed under “online publications” and “digital scholarship,” respectively.

It’s also imperative to note on your CV if any of your publications are peer reviewed, as this can be pivotal for promotions and job applications. Another important section to include is “(post-graduate) professional development” - a great way to show continued learning and involvement (ie, attending an advanced ultrasound course, leadership seminars, a national FEMA training course, etc.).

Teaching Tools
For participants looking to improve as teachers or bring back pearls for their programs, there was an impressive range of information. Christina Shenvi, MD, PhD, FACEP, addressed the nuances of adult learning and principle learning theories. For individuals planning on a career in academics, this information was fundamental.

Dr. Kalantari introduced a teaching tool called StatPEARLS for simulation debriefing. The StatPEARLS method has 5 steps: setting the scene, reactions, description, analysis, and summary. Despite being a PGY-3, no one has ever asked me how I responded emotionally to a simulation experience, but this is a key component to starting the debrief conversation with StatPEARLS (the reaction step). This is a powerful part of debriefing which I think is often overlooked but codified in this tool. Another key part of the debrief conversation is summarizing, and seeing if everyone was on the same page during the simulation. I used this tool the first week back at my program and it was amazing! Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that before any simulation scenario, you must pre-brief!! Just imagine someone preparing to do a trust fall, but leaning the wrong way at the moment of truth. Think of this image, and you’ll never forget a pre-brief again! (Thank you, Dr. Kalantari, for that visual aid!)

Leadership
Dr. Akhtar opened Day 2 with a lecture on the “7 Traits of Highly Effective Academic Leaders,” which was informed by Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” My favorite take-away from this lecture was “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” When I am in meetings or discussing a project I am passionate about, my enthusiasm sometimes gets in the way, and I end up talking more than anyone else in the room (to the subsequent horror of my reflective introvert self). This was a great reminder to listen first and foremost.

Mary Jo Wagner, MD, FACEP, presented on opportunities in organized medicine and also gave an overview of teaching fellowships.

Lastly, Jason Wagner, MD, FACEP, challenged participants to take “stacked breaths” whenever they are in a high stress scenario. He noted that when you feel stressed (like doing a central line for the first time or performing a difficult intubation) one of the first things to be lost is fine motor control, which you desperately need. By taking stacked breaths, you can quickly regain control of your nerves. To take a stacked breath, take a deep breath in, then breathe in a little more, then a little more, and hold it for a few seconds. I have found this to work not only in the ED, but in any high stress situation. 

Pearls of Wisdom
Dr. Nobay gave a series of lectures that required a category all their own. Her first lecture introduced the concept of organizational strategy, or advanced time management. She discussed the difference (and importance) of both deep and shallow work, and how your schedule should be a reflection of your values, not the other way around. I have always prided myself on being an excellent time manager, but Dr. Nobay took this to a new level: radical scheduling. I have never before so clearly understood how I am spending my time. I was shocked by how little free time I have in a week, and this revelation helped me prioritize what is most important. Looking to read more on this topic? Dr. Nobay recommended “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” by David Allen and “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport.

Dr. Nobay also presented on generational differences, and how communication among people from different generations can be strained by subconscious preferences and experiences. For instance, Baby Boomers often prefer in person, face-to-face communication, whereas Generation Yers prefer texts and Internet platforms like Slack. The take-home message was the preferences and values of people from different generations matter, and can lead to synergy or conflict depending on the approach.

Understanding your audience can help you be a better communicator, which is key as an educator. Dr. Nobay explained the variations in communication styles based on personality types. For instance, some people respond best to big-picture thinking and questions, whereas others need specific details and examples. Other people look to connect on an emotional level and respond best to anecdotes and stories.

Conclusion
The RTF concluded with break-out sessions where participants could delve deeper in to a specific topic including CVs, resilience, building an online academic community, or organizational strategies (radical scheduling).

This was hands-down one of the best experiences I have had during residency, and I recommend it to any resident interested in pursuing a career in academics, looking to be a better educator, or looking for tools to take home to a residency program. You are sure to leave this experience feeling energized, with new friends and mentors, and with tangible inspirations to share!

For more information, visit https://www.acep.org/teaching-fellowship/.  If you are interested in taking the course, join the interest list and be one of the first to know when registration opens.  The next offering of the Resident’s Teaching Fellowship will be Aug 6 – 8, 2020. 

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