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Academic and Student Services

Focus on Faculty

Hear from experienced faculty who share their inspiration and advice for serving as an educator.

Michael Lund, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics Gynecology

Years in Education:
Years as a faculty teacher? 19

Why did you choose to be an educator?
Sounds cliché, but I didn’t choose education – it chose me.  I had no plans to go into academic medicine during medical school or my first year or two of residency.  However, I found myself teaching medical students and junior residents all day every day and I really enjoyed it.  I changed my plans from private practice to academic practice here (I’ve been here my entire career) and have really enjoyed playing the role of doctor-teacher.  A good example of “don’t knock it till you try it”.

When do you feel most rewarded as an educator?
Easy – when a learner struggles with something, they receive feedback willingly and enthusiastically, and then show mastery or even improvement.  Watching someone succeed at caring for patients in the office or the operating room is fantastic (sometimes I’m more excited than they are) and provides my motivation to keep working here – we are making a huge difference in the future of medicine

What is your educational philosophy?
The best teachers are those who remember what it feels like to be the learner – we lose our empathy so quickly sometimes.  All our students and residents and other learners want is to be treated like partners by someone who remembers how scary or overwhelming the medical education journey is.  My goal is to provide highly experiential learning (let students “do stuff”) as quickly as possible to build their confidence and their enthusiasm

Who or what inspires you as an educator?
I am inspired by the ridiculously talented faculty physicians who have worked here in the past and work here now – we have an amazing collection of faculty who are really good at empathetic, experiential teaching.  I am equally inspired by the students who are excited about being physicians because they are anxious to care for their patients with character and dignity.  If I can help them get there, I am satisfied.

What have your students taught you?
Don’t forget where you started.  Don’t act like you’re more important than anyone else.  Don’t act like you know everything (you don’t).  One of the best things about working at MCW is that my students and residents regularly (and usually kindly) remind me of all of the things that I don’t know that I should know.

What advice would you give to other educators?
See the answers to my last questions.  In addition, the best teaching sessions often just cover one or two key concepts.  Use real-life examples.  Flashy doesn’t work nearly as well as understanding your learners.

What do you find most challenging as an educator?
I want to make sure that I am as up to date as I can be so that I don’t pass on outdated knowledge or skills.  That’s really challenging sometimes.  Keeping up with modern medicine, much less staying ahead of the curve, requires a great deal of discipline and enthusiasm.

Michael Frank, MD, Professor, Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine

Dr. Michael Frank shares his thoughts, teaching philosophy, inspiration, advice and challenges as an experience educator.

Years in Education:   
All my life, really, isn’t that true?  But if you mean as a faculty member, 25 years (including time elsewhere before coming to MCW).

Why did you choose to be an educator?
I have always been interested in teaching, including volunteering as a tutor in high school, college, and medical school.  I thought about being a teacher before I decided to go to medical school.  While in medical school, even before I chose a specialty, I knew I would stay in academic medicine.  I think, like most things we end up dedicating a lot of time to, I really enjoyed it and found out I was good at it.

When do you feel most rewarded as an educator?
When I see a learner get it—the “aha” moment.  When I see them work through something to get to the right answer.  When they ask me a question that shows insight into the topic.

What is your educational philosophy?
I believe in active learning and involving the learner.  I don’t believe in forcing memorization of things that can be easily looked up.  I believe being able to integrate data into appropriate clinical reasoning is far more important and in an educational environment where we all learn together.

Who or what inspires you as an educator?
Learners—namely those who enjoy learning, who find fascination in new things and satisfaction in wanting to truly understand something, who care more about the process than the grade.  As for teachers, I’ve always been amazed by those who can take something complex and focus it and make it more straightforward for me to understand.

What have your students taught you?
Lots!  And I don’t just mean things that they educated me on or things we learned together having to look up something to answer a question.  The most important thing they remind me of is to appreciate the joy in medicine and that we are lucky to be doing what we do every day.  

What advice would you give to other educators?
Make sure it is fun for both of you - you should be having fun teaching just like they should be having fun learning.  If not, look again at what you’re doing and why.  Make sure you know your audience—what level they are at and where you want to take them, what is important for them to really know and be able to do.
What do you find most challenging as an educator?
I’ll admit I find it disheartening to have disinterested learners, those who can’t find pleasure in learning something for the sake of learning, those who are only interested in what will be on the test and what their grade should be, what they “have” to do.  But that’s a bad challenge, and challenge can also be a good thing.  To me, a good challenge is to have to keep things fresh.  If I give the same teaching session every other month to the students, how do I keep it interesting and relevant (as much to me so I continue to enjoy it, as to them so they see the value of it)?  That’s a good challenge.  


Voices in Education

We’ve created this video series to share best practices from experienced faculty who contribute their teaching philosophies, engagement strategies, advice and inspiration in short video format. Enjoy!

David Brousseau, MD, MS

Professor and Chief
Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Highlights include:
  • Students can be disengaged when they don’t understand the applicability of information
  • Audience response system questions can bring about awareness and reflection
  • Inspiration can come from people who are actively trying to make something better
  • Students help to challenge your assumptions on a given topic
  • Teaching information becomes relevant when you ensure students can apply it outside of the classroom

Beth Krippendorf, PhD

Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy

Highlights include:
  • Teaching, like medicine, is a service profession
  • Students respond to enthusiasm and organization
  • Teachers should ask themselves what they want the students to know/do and hoe they want to guide the students toward achievement of those goals
  • Student feedback inspires improvement and can motivate teachers to discover better ways to teach

Karen MacKinnon, RPh

Assistant Professor
School of Pharmacy

Highlights include:
  • Audience questions allow teachers to spark additional conversation and aids them in clarifying concepts
  • Hands-on learning is important in translating knowledge from a lecture into applicable skills for patient care
  • Allow students to ask questions - it's okay of the teacher doesn't always have the answers

Hershel Raff, PhD

Medicine, Surgery and Physiology

Highlights include:
  • The biggest mistakes teachers can make are being unclear and forgetting the big picture
  • Audience response questions can be extremely helpful in gauging student understanding and redirecting teaching efforts
  • There is nothing more beautiful than a great lecture, and nothing deadlier than a bad one

James Sebastian, MD

Department of Medicine

Highlights include:
  • The teacher's role is to coach and instill fundamental knowledge and skills
  • It must be okay for students to make mistakes as they learn
  • If you can draw it and you can teach it, then you understand it
  • It's okay for a student to see a teacher struggle with a topic outside their expertise

Ryan Spellecy, PhD

Bioethics, Institute for Health and Equity

Highlights include:
  • Students are future colleagues; teaching prepares them for that role
  • You can better engage students by mixing up your teaching methodologies If you start with a simple question that engages students, that goes a long way toward getting and keeping students involved in the session
  • Audience response questions provide students with an anonymity that helps teachers broach sensitive topics and elicit conversation in the classroom