July 20, 2007

VUSM forms teaching excellence academy

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Lillian Nanney, Ph.D., is the first director of VUSM’s Academy for Teaching Excellence. (photo by Susan Urmy)

VUSM forms teaching excellence academy

Steven Gabbe, M.D.

Steven Gabbe, M.D.

At Vanderbilt and other medical schools across the country, medical educators realize that they are in danger of becoming an underappreciated commodity — third in line behind revenue-producing clinicians and researchers.

School of Medicine Dean Steven Gabbe, M.D., is determined to keep the education mission front and center. One way he is accomplishing just that is by establishing the VUSM Academy for Teaching Excellence. Corey Slovis, M.D., chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, and Lillian Nanney, Ph.D., professor of Plastic Surgery, Cell & Developmental Biology, initiated the effort by leading an exploratory committee last year, and Gabbe has tapped Nanney to serve as the founding director.

“We want to put education back on the map and reinvigorate the teaching enterprise within the Medical Center,” Nanney said. “We also want to give educators a forum to voice and implement their collective ideas for achieving excellence in teaching.”

As the co-chair of the Association of American Medical College's Liaison Committee for Medical Education, Gabbe has noticed that the number of teaching academies is increasing at medical schools across the country to address the concerns of their faculty members.

“We see in our reviews of schools that faculties are expressing the pressures they are feeling and the compromised time they have for teaching,” Gabbe said. “Recommendations suggest that students should be exposed to the best clinicians and teachers, and yet many people feel caught between the pressure to see more patients and time to teach. Vanderbilt has approximately 1,400 clinical faculty, and we want all of them to not only be involved in teaching, but to be excellent teachers.”

The need is equally strong to raise the bar on teaching for the basic science faculty in the Medical Center, Gabbe said.

In short, the Academy is devoted to advancing the visibility, prestige and excellence of teaching within all aspects of the School of Medicine.

“Vanderbilt truly values teaching and this is one of the ways of showing it,” said Bonnie Miller, M.D., associate dean for Undergraduate Medical Education. “However, this Academy is not just an honorary title. Each member will assume the responsibility of helping other faculty members become better teachers in a variety of ways.”

There are 45 founding members of the Academy. These memberships were initially offered to all former winners of Vanderbilt's existing awards for excellence in teaching.

After the Academy's first year, membership selection will be expanded via nominations from existing members, the Dean's office, department chairs, and center directors. Members of the Academy will represent the entire school and will include those devoted to the teaching of medical students, graduate students, residents, postdoctoral and clinical fellows and practicing physicians and scientists.

“Our ultimate goal is that every academic department, major division and center within the School of Medicine has at least one member in the Academy,” Gabbe said.

The specific role of the Academy will be to advance all aspects of medical education, including its practice, study, and perceived value at all levels. The Academy's role will be devoted to the following:

• Promote educational scholarship throughout the Medical Center;

• Improve teaching effectiveness in lectures, small groups, in the research setting and at the bedside in conjunction with the Office of Teaching and Learning in Medicine;

• Provide junior faculty with mentorship in teaching and guide them through the promotions and tenure process;

• Promote objective study of unique teaching styles, programs and interactive media;

• Serve as an advocate for educators and education and examine compensation as it relates to specific faculty responsibilities;

• Recruit and foster the training of applicants for the Academy from all ranks within the School of Medicine; and,

• Help faculty establish educator portfolios.

Another role of the Academy is to establish more endowed chairs for Vanderbilt's finest educators. At present there are two endowed chairs for teachers: the John L. Shapiro Chair in Pathology, held by Robert Collins, M.D., and the John Coniglio Chair in Biochemistry, held by Neil Osheroff, Ph.D.

“It would be absolutely marvelous if there were more endowed chairs for teachers. I am optimistic that the Academy can raise the visibility and value of teaching and become an attractive option for philanthropy that will benefit the future learners of medicine,” Nanney said.

During the first year, the Academy will focus on hosting seminars, forums and workshops; creating more opportunities for educators within the School of Medicine to interact with each other and share best practices about teaching programs and techniques; and developing short-term and long-term goals of the Academy.

“We've always had a core group of faculty members who love to teach. While the greatest rewards of teaching are accomplishments of our students, the Academy is a way of giving teachers the institutional recognition, mentorship and support they deserve,” Miller said.

Academy for Teaching Excellence founding members:

Founding Members of the Academy For Teaching Excellence

Frank Boehm, M.D., professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Nancy Brown, Robert H. Williams Professor of Medicine

W. Barton Campbell, M.D., professor of Medicine

Roger Chalkley, D. Phil, senior associate dean Biomedical Research, Education, and Training

Ellen Clayton, M.D., J.D., Rosalind E. Franklin Professor of Genetics and Health Policy

Arthur Dalley, Ph.D., professor of Cell and Developmental Biology

Mark Denison, M.D., professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology and Immunology

Terence Dermody, MD., professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology and Immunology

Arthur Fleischer, M.D., professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences

Catherine Fuchs, M.D., associate professor of Psychiatry

Waldon Garriss, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine

Joseph Gigante, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics

Marie Griffin, M.D., M.P.H., professor of Preventive Medicine

Jacek Hawiger, M.D., Ph.D., Oswald T. Avery Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

Gerald Hickson, M.D., professor of Pediatrics

Tadashi Inagami; Ph.D., Stanford Moore Professor of Biochemistry

Adrian Jarquin-Valdivia, M.D., assistant professor of Neurology

Joyce Johnson, M.D., associate professor of Pathology

Howard Kirshner, M.D., professor of Neurology and vice chair of the department

John Leonard, M.D., professor of Medicine

Kim Lomis, M.D., assistant professor of Surgery

Lawrence Marnett, Ph.D., Mary Geddes Stahlman professor of Cancer Research

Bonnie Miller, M.D., associate dean for Undergraduate Medical Education

Lillian Nanney, Ph.D., professor of Plastic Surgery

Jeanette Norden, Ph.D., professor of Cell and Developmental Biology

Neil Osheroff, Ph.D., John Coniglio Professor of Biochemistry

Michael Richardson, M.D., associate professor of Anesthesiology

David Robertson, M.D., Elton Yates Professor of Autonomic Disorders

Scott Rodgers, M.D., assistant dean for Medical Students

Donald Rubin, M.D., professor of Medicine

Charles Rush, M.D., assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

William Schaffner, M.D., professor of Preventive Medicine

John Sergent, M.D., professor of Medicine

Jayant Shenai, M.D., professor of Pediatrics

Virginia Shepherd, Ph.D., professor of Pathology

Corey Slovis, M.D., professor of Emergency Medicine

Walter Smalley, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of Medicine

W. Anderson Spickard III, M.D., associate professor of Medicine

Richard Stein, Ph.D., research instructor in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

John Tarpley, M.D., professor of Surgery

Luc Van Kaer, Ph.D., professor of Microbiology and Immunology

Anthony Weil, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Keith Wrenn; M.D., professor of Emergency Medicine

Arthur Wheeler, MD., associate professor of Medicine

John Zic, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine