USF Downtown: Creating a future-facing medical education space

Bryan Bognar, Vice Dean for Educational Affairs, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine

Bryan Bognar, Vice Dean for Educational Affairs, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine

An interview with Dr. Bryan A. Bognar, Vice Dean for Educational Affairs, Morsani College of Medicine

Q: You have been involved in several of the planning committees for the downtown expansion of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute. How is it going?

A: I began my career at USF in 1989, and I have seen our college transform from a community-based medical school into an incredible comprehensive academic medical center. The downtown expansion of MCOM marks another milestone in this transformation. We have certainly made the most of renovating our space at the main USF Health campus, but the ability to design entirely new space in the downtown building provides an unprecedented opportunity to create medical education space of the future. How can you not be excited about that?

Q: What does that look like?

A: I would probably best describe it as agile or flexible. By 2020, medical knowledge is expected to double every 73 days. We are challenged to design space for learning modalities and teaching techniques of the next several decades. There will be discoveries and disruptive technologies — like telemedicine and electronic health records today — that will change the way we teach the everyday practice of medicine.

We are intentionally designing the building for maximum flexibility. There’s not a single space that can’t be combined or divided to create varying sizes and configurations. For example, there will be a 400-seat auditorium with a drop-down wall that will divide the space into two 200-seat rooms. There will a number of small group learning rooms as we more and more move to team-based learning activities. Needless to say, it will be a technology rich environment, facilitating the best in virtual classroom modalities. By designing space that maintains flexibility, we are doing our best to “future-proof” the building.

Q: How will the new downtown building change medical education at USF?

A: We are designing our space with an eye toward future pedagogies. It will be flexible, multiuse, interdisciplinary space that will allow us to move seamlessly from large-group to small-group activities in a matter of minutes. Today’s students desire hands on, active learning with ready access to an array of online resources. Our space must allow us to quickly move from theory to practice, bench to bedside. That is our goal.

The experiential learning lab is one example. Virtual anatomy simulators will help connect foundational anatomy with clinical anatomy through imaging. The space will also be interdisciplinary, with round-robin activities that allow the students to apply concepts of anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology all at once–which is how doctors practice every day. We will integrate these disciplines, so that students can better see how they fit together.

Q: What else excites you about this expansion?

A: One of the concepts that our current educational environment is built around is the collegia — learning communities that are made up students from each class, thus vertically integrating all four years of classes. In our existing space, we haven’t been able to give these collegia a physical home, which in many ways has been a limitation. We’ve examined medical schools across the country, and those that gave their learning communities a physical space described it as a game-changer.

In the new building, we’re going to create 750-sq-ft informal learning spaces — a little nest — that will serve these collegia groups as a home away from home, which is important given how much time they will spend together. It will be a place to collaborate, relax, study, socialize, eat and play.

Q: What types of technology can we expect to see in the new building?

A: By co-locating the building close to CAMLS (USF’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation), we won’t have to replicate the state-of-the-art, high-fidelity simulation and standardized patient space in the new building. The new building will provide lower-cost simulation/task trainers that the students can use on their own, outside of the formal classroom; a sort of practice field to gain confidence and experience.

One amazing technology that we would like to bring to the new building is the ability to live-stream medical procedures into the classroom, which is actually fairly simple technology. Teaching faculty could stream live to a classroom and walk the students through the procedures as they’re doing it (with the patient’s permission, of course). Instead of just one medical student looking over their shoulder in the OR this would allow an entire class to be present. Imagine the experience for a first- or second-year medical student to essentially be in a room with a surgical team, reinforcing the basic science that they’re learning. It makes me want to go back to medical school!

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