New Department of Medical Education elevates educational mission

The USF Health Morsani College of Medicine has established a Department of Medical Education – a transition that raises the bar for the college’s educational standards as USF Health rises in national stature.

“Since he arrived, Dr. Lockwood has emphasized a culture of excellence in everything we do,” said Bryan Bognar, MD, who assumes the role as founding chair of the Department of Medical Education and will retain his title as MCOM vice dean for educational affairs.

“We’ve been pursuing excellence in every aspect of our practice plan and in the rigor of our research.  Now, transitioning the Office of Educational Affairs (OEA) to a Department of Medical Education further elevates the visibility of education and underscores the importance of our teaching mission.”

Valerie Parisi, MD, senior associate vice president of academic affairs at USF Health, and Bryan Bognar, MD, founding chair of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine’s Department of Medical Education, discuss the transition of the Office of Educational Affairs to its new departmental status.

Dr. Bognar and Valerie Parisi, MD, senior associate vice president of academic affairs at USF Health and MCOM vice dean of faculty affairs, worked with Charles J. Lockwood, MD, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, to spearhead the creation of the new department.

“This sends a clear message from leadership about the value of education, putting it on a similar plane as our research and clinical care missions,” Dr. Parisi said.

The transition to a Department of Medical Education — endorsed by the MCOM Faculty Council, USF Faculty Senate and USF System Faculty Council — is a natural evolution of OEA’s growth and maturation, Dr. Bognar said.  Many top-tier medical schools, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, have developed successful medical education departments or units in tandem with their rising national recognition.

Institutional support for a medical education department has several advantages, say Dr. Bognar and Dr. Parisi. Such departments can:

  • Strengthen evaluation of curriculum content, and better facilitate faculty development in such areas as teaching techniques and interactive training.
  • Promote publication of scholarly work and improve the quality of research in areas with an educational focus, including those linking medical education to health outcomes.
  • Create a home for a growing number of ranked faculty in OEA, representing various disciplines, whose primary role is teaching rather than research or patient care, and for voluntary faculty in the community whose primary interactions with students are educational.
  • Provide secondary appointments for faculty from other USF Health and USF colleges, such as public health, nursing, pharmacy, engineering and the Honors College, who collaborate substantially with colleagues in the Morsani College of Medicine.
  • Consolidate and expand programs that help faculty develop new skills corresponding to changes in the medical curriculum and its assessment. Give faculty who want to be part of a community of “master teachers” a clearer path to promotion.

The USF Health Morsani College of Medicine has already initiated many hallmarks of educational quality improvement, such as detailed curriculum mapping of MD courses across all four years to identify any gaps in content and to assess teaching effectiveness, implementing performance metrics, and providing systematic feedback to ensure that what faculty members are teaching dovetails with accreditation and licensing examination standards, Dr. Bognar said. “We continue to bring rigor, discipline and accountability to our program oversight.”

In the final analysis, the new department can benefit USF Health’s entire academic enterprise by attracting the highest-caliber teaching faculty who value new ideas and ask challenging questions about how students are best trained to improve the health of patients and the community. “The quality of the curriculum improves as faculty innovate and evaluate what works,” Dr. Parisi said.

The Office of Curriculum and Medical Education, established in 1997 to oversee all aspects of the curriculum, gave rise in 2004 to OEA.  Over the years the number of coordinators and other staff members has grown to execute an MD curriculum increasingly integrated across all four years.

In 2014, the OEA added an Academic Support Center offering academic advising and coaching for students (MD, DPT and PA) who want to improve their study and examination skills and in 2016 it launched a centralized Research, Innovation & Scholarly Endeavors office, which supports a wide range of faculty-mentored medical student research and other scholarly work. This spring, Eun Mi Park, EdD, was recruited from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where she built a strong track record of learning research, to become MCOM’s new assistant dean of assessment and evaluation.   OEA also supports interprofessional education primarily through its Experiential Learning and Simulation team based at USF Health CAMLS.

The creation of a Department of Medical Education is budget neutral and will not substantially change the organizational structure of existing OEA faculty and staff.

-Photos by Freddie Coleman, USF Health Communications and Marketing