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Fleming, Law receive education awards from Academy for Excellence in Education

May. 27, 2020, 2:06 PM


by Jessica Pasley

The Academy for Excellence in Education, established in 2007 to reinvigorate the education enterprise within Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, recently honored Geoffrey Fleming, MD, professor of Pediatrics, Critical Care Medicine and Janice Law, MD, assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

Geoffrey Fleming, MD

Fleming received the Lillian B. Nanny Award for Outstanding Service to the VU/VUMC Community of Educators, which was established in 2016. It is presented to a faculty member who has served Vanderbilt’s education community in a way that honors the legacy of Lillian Nanney, the founding director of the academy.

“This award is an incredible honor, as it comes from my fellow educators and colleagues,” said Fleming, associate director of the Pediatric Critical Care Fellowship Training Program at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. “I am humbled to be on the list of recipients as prior winners are giants in our field. I look forward to continuing to work with educators across the Medical Center to create learning opportunities for all levels of learners.

Janice Law, MD

“This kind of teamwork is how we deliver our best efforts and is the basis for any success I have had as an educator.”

Fleming was selected because of his extensive involvement in undergraduate and graduate medical education and his current leadership role as vice president for Continuing Professional Development and previously as chair of the Faculty Senate.

Neil Osheroff, PhD, professor of Biochemistry and Medicine and director of the academy, said the Nanney Award is the only one that recognizes an individual who provides service to their fellow educators.

“The Nanney Award is highly significant in that it represents the highest honor that is given out by the School of Medicine and the Medical Center for an individual who betters the educational community,” said Osheroff, a founding member of the academy.

Steven Webber, MBChB, MRCP, chair of the Department of Pediatrics, pediatrician in chief of Children’s Hospital and the James C. Overall Professor, said he was thrilled that one of his faculty was recognized for outstanding contributions to continuing education.

“Dr. Fleming’s outstanding work with the Vanderbilt education community has had a remarkable impact,” said Webber. “It has helped transform professional development, resulting in education that is more real-time, hands-on and team-based, all of which impacts patient outcomes.”

The academy also recognized Law for her accomplishments with the 2020 Geoffrey David Chazen Faculty Award for Innovation in Medical Education.

Law’s contributions to the educational programs of the School of Medicine and her extensive involvement in graduate and undergraduate medical education as the previous associate director for Residency Education and current director for Medical Student Education in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, led to her selection.

In receiving the award, Law said her work in developing and integrating an ophthalmology experience into the neurology clerkship was a team effort.

“Over the last 10 years, ophthalmology education has diminished across the country within medical school curricula,” Law said. “As ophthalmic educators we are constantly looking for opportunities to increase ophthalmic instruction in undergraduate medical education not only to equip students but with the goal of better patient care.”

The idea for integrating ophthalmology and neurology curricula came from a medical student who identified the unique intersection of the two specialties during a neurology clerkship, while Law built the program to bridge educational gaps.

“This program brings back emphasis on the ophthalmology physical exam skills that every medical student needs for competency before graduation,” Law said. “It also exposes our students early in their training, which allows them to apply their knowledge as they progress in their curriculum. My hope is that with this recognition, similar collaboration can be discovered and implemented in other medical schools to increase their future physicians’ ophthalmic medical knowledge and skills, therefore improving overall patient care.”

The successful program, well received by medical students, is being credited with tripling student interest in ophthalmology at Vanderbilt.

Paul Sternberg Jr., MD, G.W. Hale Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Vanderbilt and chair of the department, said the Chazen Award is a recognition of Law’s extraordinary efforts to increase medical students’ exposure to ophthalmology.

“I am thrilled to see her creativity and commitment to ophthalmic education rewarded in this way. In addition, I want to acknowledge that the award is the result of a highly innovative collaboration with our neurology colleagues and would not have been possible without the efforts of two terrific medical students.”

The academy gives educators a forum to voice and implement their collective ideas for achieving excellence in teaching and learning.

Membership selection is done via nominations from existing members, the dean’s office, department chairs and center directors. Members of the academy represent the entire School of Medicine and Medical Center and include those devoted to the teaching of medical students, graduate students, residents, postdoctoral and clinical fellows and practicing physicians and scientists.

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