The Hematologist

May-June 2016, Volume 13, Issue 3

The Charge of the Teaching Brigade: The New ASH Medical Educators Institute

Jennifer C. Kesselheim, MD, M.Ed, MBE Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorder Center; Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Marc J. Kahn, MD, MBA Peterman-Prosser Professor; Senior Associate Dean
Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA

Published on: March 24, 2016

Louis is a hematologist in his first faculty position at an academic medical center. A former chief resident, Louis has always loved to teach and identifies himself as a “clinician educator.” At his annual review, Louis’s division chief offers him the directorship of the medical student course in hematology. Louis accepts and immediately feels a mixture of honor, excitement, and angst…

Too frequently, faculty at academic medical centers learn to teach and perform other essential professional duties informally, through trial and error, word of mouth, and of course, role modeling. Practicing physicians, even those who view teaching as essential to their professional mission, are rarely offered formal training in the principles and practice of medical education. In hematology, especially, junior faculty (like Louis) are typically placed into clinician educator tracks without adequate professional development to be successful in this career path. Unfortunately, the curriculum for clinician educators remains mostly hidden. It is for this reason that ASH has developed the Medical Educators Institute (MEI).

What Is ASH MEI?

ASH MEI is emblematic of the Society’s commitment to its mission of education. The investment of time and resources to "teach teachers" not only has obvious benefits for educators and learners, but also creates a culture of hematology "foot soldiers" that can inspire future trainees to join our specialty. ASH is invested in fostering career development and professional success among hematologists, and emphasizes developing and delivering innovative teaching materials and methods that will excite learners and stimulate enthusiasm for our subspecialty. Lastly, hematology educators need access to ongoing, up-to-date instruction in order to best facilitate the acquisition of skills, knowledge, and mentoring.

ASH MEI is an intensive educational and mentoring program developed to address the needs of clinician educators in hematology. After a rigorous selection process (currently underway as of the writing of this article), approximately 20 participants will engage in a three-day workshop held at ASH Headquarters this September. The workshop will involve active learning sessions dealing with critical topics in medical education. Additionally, the on-site workshop will also allow for mentorship of a scholarly project proposed by the participant as part of the application process. Following the workshop, participants will return to their home institutions, engage in a scholarly project related to their roles in education, and participate in several webinars designed to facilitate ongoing training.

What Will Participants Learn?

ASH MEI will incorporate innovative and interactive pedagogies to teach key concepts in medical education. Core content will include topics such as active learning in the classroom, developing a scholarly project in hematology education, assessment and feedback, and writing multiple choice questions. Participants will also have the opportunity to discuss ways to demonstrate value to their institutions. For example, sessions on how to build an educator's CV and how to get promoted as a hematology educator will be included. Most sessions will require participants to complete required readings prior to the workshop so that time spent in the workshop can be used to discuss and apply key concepts and engage in interactive exercises that reinforce the core content.

Each participant will come prepared with ideas for a scholarly education project to be refined during the ASH MEI experience. Participants will gather in small groups to nurture their medical education projects from concept to a fully formed program. It is expected that participants will be ready to implement these projects following the workshop and will contribute an enduring product to ASH to share with the rest of the hematology education community.

After the in-person workshop, participants will view a series of webinars to explore additional topics in medical education throughout the next 12 months. In so doing, they will cultivate a community of medical educators within ASH and build a network to enable educational innovation and research.

Who Are the ASH MEI Faculty?

Experienced educators in hematology will attend ASH MEI as faculty. Faculty have been carefully selected based on their expertise, scholarship, and leadership in medical education. ASH MEI faculty will run sessions among the larger group of participants, facilitate small group project work, and offer one-on-one mentoring to guide participants in their career development and scholarly pursuits. Course faculty will be available to participants throughout the year for longitudinal follow-up, providing participants with continuity in mentorship.

How Can You Get Involved?

Academic hematology recruitment, retention, and prevention of burnout are challenging in an era of great change in our profession. The fact that the percentage of tenured faculty in medical school continues to decline to less than 20 percent reflects the changing work environment and underscores a need for faculty development. We are hopeful that the ASH MEI will provide such a resource. Thinking back to the opening vignette about Louis, the ASH MEI will enable him to develop a sound approach to curriculum development, become facile with various strategies for learner assessment, be exposed to numerous educational technologies and digital resources to enhance his course, and receive expert and individually tailored advice about how to develop further as an educator.

Sounding good? Please refer all promising educators with whom you work to visit for more information, and email ASH at to offer content suggestions or to volunteer to join our faculty.

Conflict of Interests

Drs. Kesselheim and Kahn indicated no relevant conflicts of interest. back to top