Author + information
- David R. Holmes, MD, FACC†,
- Marcia J. Jackson, PhD‡,
- Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC§,
- Rick A. Nishimura, MD, FACC† and
- Patrick T. O’Gara, MD, FACC∥
- James T. Dove, MD, FACC, ACC President⁎
- ↵⁎Address correspondence to:
James T. Dove, MD, FACC, American College of Cardiology, c/o Padmini G. Rajagopal-Moorehead, 2400 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20037
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
—attributed to William Butler Yeats
We have all been fortunate enough to have encountered great teachers in our lifetime. In high school they may have ignited our interest in science or raised our social awareness. In college they may have opened our eyes and minds to inquire why or why not of the world around us. In medical school, residency, or fellowship, they helped us understand complex pathophysiology and the need for further research. Great clinicians taught by example the compassionate sensitivity that is so important in direct patient care. They left us with a thirst for continuous learning not only in medicine but in the world around us.
All of these great teachers had an infectious enthusiasm for learning and the patience to help us comprehend. Great educators continue to learn as they teach, and that is the fuel that drives their enthusiasm for education. We have all experienced that learning as we teach medical students, residents, and fellows. We experience it as we impart information to patients and families. Some of us excel in the classroom and others at the bedside, but it is the passion for teaching and connecting with the student, whoever they might be, that rewards the teacher.
The international reputation for educational excellence that the American College of Cardiology has rightly earned can be traced directly to the many talented—indeed, great—educators who have contributed to the College’s educational activities. Unlike the more lockstep learning of undergraduate and graduate education, continuing medical education (CME) brings together audiences who may be very diverse in their backgrounds, practices, and interests. Effective teachers in the CME setting appreciate that adults can both contribute to and learn from educational experiences and establish an interactive environment that supports this process.
Creating Optimal Learning Experiences
What are the elements for optimal learning for adult learners? We learn by solving genuine problems, by reviewing our own issues in our own practices, or by reflecting through analogy and comparisons on similar issues described by others. We learn by actually practicing and applying new knowledge, then reflecting on both the process and outcome of this application. Sometimes we make changes quickly in applying new technology, procedures, or medical therapies, but other times we are slow and resistant to change. Perhaps this is related to how the information was delivered and by whom.
The evaluations from the College’s many educational activities show that our educators who best understand and use these elements score the highest ratings with our audiences. Interactive, participatory sessions are valued by the audiences in our programs. Case studies that reflect real-life circumstances posing challenging questions are always effective. College audiences appreciate formal and informal opportunities to ask questions of the experts and to engage in dialogue with peers.
The expansion of Internet-based education fosters this interactive exchange, which is possible even within the largest of our educational activities. The 2007 Annual Scientific Session featured presentations that incorporated audience questions. In addition, technology enabled individuals to listen to and identify a wide variety of heart sounds. This year also, satellite broadcasts of live cases, which have always been a favorite format, were expanded beyond just interventional cases. Progressively, simulation technology will become more important in permitting learners to practice procedures and therapies in a safe environment.
How to bring new, talented educators into the College faculty roster has been a topic of concern and discussion for several years. When the College was smaller, experienced faculty often served as mentors who furthered the careers of young faculty. As demands on our time have increased, this becomes more difficult both for the mentors and the young faculty. Recognizing the need to keep this pipeline replenished, the College launched an important initiative to identify emerging faculty who can serve as future contributors to our education activities and committees.
Educating for the Future
We must ensure that the new generation of teachers is able to meet the learning needs of our audiences with the same skill, passion, and commitment that characterize our current generation of educators. Through the generosity of the Michael Wolk Heart Foundation, the College has now successfully held two “Teaching Skills Workshop for Emerging Faculty.” Each workshop numbered a cohort of approximately 20 promising young educators who are Fellows of the College, hold the rank of assistant or associate professor, and were nominated by their respective divisional chairs for the program.
The workshop, which is led by our most experienced and effective College educators, exemplifies the elements associated with effective adult learning. The participants gain information about adult learning, instructional design, and effective teaching skills. Each person prepares and delivers a five-minute presentation, which is critiqued by the faculty and the other workshop participants. Not only do teaching skills improve, but the participants become a cohesive group through these activities. The current education and governing leaders are given the names and interests of the workshop participants and encouraged to use them as educators and committee members. We are pleased to report that this process has worked well, and our emerging faculty participants are deployed in many educational activities and committees throughout the College. The American College of Cardiology Foundation W. Proctor Harvey, MD, Young Teacher Award winners are selected from among those who participate in the workshop. Josh Beckman, MD, FACC, one of the two 2007 award winners says about this workshop, “Both through formal training and personal feedback, I … walked out a better educator.”
The Call for Nominations for the Emerging Faculty program will be appearing soon in Cardiologymagazine and other communications from the College. Please look for this information and nominate members who, in your opinion, meet the criteria. Developing this new talent will ensure that the College maintains its reputation for educational excellence in meeting the learning needs of our individual members. The workshop is not just about learning new skills. As Jeffrey Kuvin, MD, FACC, another participant in the 2007 workshop, commented, “It’s a great venue for young people to meet and enjoy camaraderie as well.”
These young educators represent some of our future leaders. Part of the College’s mission is to prepare these young leaders for the future. Other activities tied into this mission include the College’s fall 2007 launch of a Leadership Institute designed to facilitate the development of leadership skills. Those skills will help leaders in practice—academic or private—handle the challenges of today’s more complex practice environment as well as develop future leaders of American College of Cardiology.
↵⁎ Motto of Dr. Dove’s alma mater, Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation