To envision the role of future educators given aforementioned societal changes, participants broke into small, interprofessional teams of three to five people to brainstorm and discuss issues regarding future facilitators of health professions education. The more specific objective was to explore the next generation of educators using a methodology based loosely on the ideas of Simpson and colleagues (2018), whose work linked the evolution of medical education to the educators’ changing roles and new professional
identities. In the context of the workshop, participants looked more broadly at the transformation of education and health care. This included changes in education due to advanced technology, new medical–legal challenges, a transforming clinical environment, and greater emphasis on interprofessional learning with collaborative practice. Launette Woolforde from the National League for Nursing and Steven Chesbro from the American Physical Therapy Association divided the group into 12 interprofessional teams for discussions of the following three questions:
- What are pipeline opportunities for attracting/developing future health professions educators?
- What core skills will the health professions educators need?
- How will instructors keep up to date on clinical, educational, information technology, and legal needs of the health professions in changing clinical and educational environments?
The next sections are a summary of the discussions held during these small group breakouts. Any suggestions listed as a result of these conversations were made by individual participants and should not be construed as consensus opinions or recommendations or endorsement by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. It should be further noted that questions for the breakout groups were designed to stimulate thinking on Day 2 of the workshop wherein roughly half of the participants delved even deeper into the issues raised by these questions during a session titled Building a Pipeline of Disruptive Innovators in Health Professions Education. (See Chapter 7 for details.)
WHAT ARE PIPELINE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ATTRACTING/DEVELOPING FUTURE HEALTH PROFESSIONS EDUCATORS?
Individual participants had a number of ideas in this area. Discussions acknowledged the fact that opportunities to attract and develop educators begin before college and do not end once a graduate enters the workforce. More than one contributor suggested increasing the emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in primary and secondary schools, which led to a suggestion of forming student interest groups that could serve as drivers for future educators at all levels of schooling. The benefits of being a health educator, it was remarked, could be emphasized to students (e.g., summers off, flexible schedules) in an effort to build a strong pipeline into education. In addition, one participant mentioned recruiting health professions educators from multiple populations
to include people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, people from underserved populations, and professionals from other areas or sectors (e.g., public health, military, secondary education). Community-based program staff could also help by identifying and supporting future potential educators in their endeavors.
Other participant comments implied that health professions educational programs could provide curricula to care providers who may be reluctant to enter into teaching, which would also elevate the role of health professions educators. Promoting education in this way could potentially increase the perceived value of education within health care. This inculcation, it was mentioned, could start in a student’s first year of health professional education in an effort to expose students to educator experiences as early as possible. By simultaneously building an identity as an educator and a practitioner, students may be able to establish a broader foundation for dual identification.
In later years, during residencies and fellowships, opportunities such as joint clinical–educational appointments could further the trainees’ skills and interests in pursuing excellence in health professions education. Graduates who enter the education workforce will likely stay within education if financial incentives—such as loan repayment and forgiveness and/or better pay and benefits—are in place, which would help attract and retain new talent. In addition to financial incentives, one participant pointed out how the culture of the work environment would have to be favorable to new hires. In order to retain the existing education workforce and to remain relevant in a changing world, the attendee noted, educational institutions would also need to address and plan for the major shifts occurring in health education and practice.
In addition to building a new workforce consisting of recent graduates, several individuals at the workshop noted the value of tapping into current health practitioners for retraining as potential health professions educators. For this to happen, participants remarked, the practitioners would require education and training on how to teach effectively. Academic/practice partnerships can help bring clinicians into the classroom and, one person said, practice partners can be invaluable in helping plan curricula that bridge the education-practice gap. The role of a clinical preceptor can be a good entry point for practitioners who want to get involved with education, in that it can potentially lead to a bigger education commitment from them in the future. That moved the conversation on this particular question to a final comment about the value of clinical faculty and the importance of including them as part of the core faculty team.
WHAT CORE SKILLS WILL THE HEALTH PROFESSIONS EDUCATORS NEED?
Participants on the interprofessional teams listed a number of skills that each believed future health professions educators would need to possess or develop, while noting that future educators may require new or expanded bases of knowledge in certain areas. Woolforde and Bushardt grouped the skills and knowledge suggested by the individual participants into five main areas: leadership skills, education, health and health care, technology, and business in the following manner:
Workshop participants discussed their individual perspectives on the variety of social and interpersonal skills that health professions educators would need in order to be effective leaders, teachers, and role models for students. Within this realm, future educators would need to
- Convey and model empathy.
- Collaborate, listen, communicate, and work collectively.
- Reflect appropriately to gain self-awareness (e.g., acknowledge what one does not know).
- Demonstrate cultural competence and emotional intelligence.
- Possess the ability to educate and mentor diverse populations.
- Lead and partner.
- Be positive role models (e.g., model ethical decision-making processes, model respect and professionalism).
- Provide feedback to others through constructive criticism and difficult conversations.
- Be flexible and adaptable.
In terms of educational skills and knowledge, individual workshop participants described what they believed were important areas of focus. Those included
- Understanding and using faster, more focused teaching methods, with multiple modalities (e.g., didactic, simulation-based, clinical, online).
- Applying pedagogical and andragogical methods.
- Identifying, measuring, and evaluating outcomes.
- Balancing current and future needs of students.
- Conducting formative and summative assessments.
- Identifying educational needs, including distinguishing between educational and non-educational gaps.
- Acting as a guide rather than a “one-directional” teacher.
- Cultivating learners’ mindsets through an educator’s lens.
- Assessing competencies and evaluating self-directed and/or individualized learning, rather than cohort learning.
- Understanding longitudinal educational design and assessment.
- Adapting rapidly to new content.
Health and Health Care
The health care system is complex and continues to build in complexity. With that frame of reference, participants expressed individual opinions on preparing future health professionals for this rapidly changing system, which they said involves:
- Educating learners about the health care system.
- Recognizing the rapidly evolving future of health care.
- Envisioning the future role of interprofessional teams.
- Understanding how systems work and interact.
- Appreciating health promotion goals (e.g., wellness, well-being).
- Realizing the importance of social determinants and population health.
- Understanding key aspects of the Quadruple Aim.
- Staying relevant in practice and patient care.
- Partnering with patients and families as both co-learners and co-educators.
- Understanding and teaching translational science from bench to bedside, and as a tool for increasing community engagement.
- Being able to work and guide students and colleagues interprofessionally.
Participants expressed their personal views about technology, stating that its role has become more widespread in both education and health care. To remain relevant in a technologically advanced society, the majority of individuals suggested that tomorrow’s health professions educators would need to
- Be comfortable with and embrace technology for teaching, health care, prevention, and research.
- Leverage technology to enhance learning outcomes.
- Possess digital literacy and professionalism.
- Know how to apply big data and population data analytics.
- Understand and be comfortable with telehealth tools and technologies.
As outlined in the paper by Walsh (2015), the number of for-profit medical schools is increasing around the world, which raises questions about the motives, the quality, and the social accountability of such schools. These issues were considered as the participants—predominantly from academia—discussed balancing the social mission of health professions education with the business side of running cost-effective, valued educational programs. Individual participants pointed to management skills and knowledge they believed would help steer health professions educators toward a better understanding of how an educational business model might improve their ability to
- Effectively use resources.
- Calculate return on investment for education.
- Be a disrupter, an advocate, and an agent of change.
- Manage polarities and solve problems.
- Have basic business and financial literacy.
- Make evidence-based decisions.
- Partner with employers in order to ensure students are workforce ready.
- Take risks and think strategically.
HOW WILL INSTRUCTORS KEEP UP TO DATE ON CLINICAL, EDUCATIONAL, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, AND LEGAL NEEDS OF THE HEALTH PROFESSIONS IN CHANGING CLINICAL AND EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENTS?
It was stated by Warren Newton in his opening remarks captured in Chapter 4 that society—and health care in particular—is changing at a stunning rate, and that students will need to be prepared to work within an evolving health care system. This dynamic places a heavy burden on health professions educators, noted several group participants; as such, educators’ responsibilities would entail keeping up with new clinical practice environments while applying the appropriate educational theory to practice. One participant also mentioned the importance of having educators who can explain how laws and policies will apply to new delivery systems, and how
changing technology will affect the future of health care practice. These were the messages of individual workshop participants as they discussed the various ways of ensuring that educators remain relevant and informed as the world around them changes.
One participant commented that keeping up to date on changing health systems is “too much for one individual.” In response, other participants suggested that educators could more effectively collaborate so that the burden is shared among people with complementary knowledge and expertise. There were additional remarks made about program implementation. It is critical to ask educators, a commenter said, about what their needs are and how they prefer to receive information (e.g., virtually, in person). This led to other participant input about the importance of leveraging existing resources, for example, health departments that already use technology to push out relevant information.
Additional ideas were proposed for keeping health professions education instructors current. Participants suggested they could fit under three broad categories that dealt with new technologies, incentives and support, and facilitating interprofessional continuing education and communication. Participants’ input within these three areas is as follows.
- Use technology to educate and support instructors where they are.
- Engage in resource sharing.
- Utilize simulations for increased hands-on training.
- Promote preferred resource alerts and just-in-time information.
- Build virtual learning environments and communities.
- Employ social media platforms for collaboration and communication.
- Test and develop useful smartphone applications.
Incentives and Support
- Provide financial support to educators for facilitating education and practice linkages.
- Offer academic incentives for professional development (e.g., changes in academic promotion practices).
- Change practice patterns to facilitate provider participation in professional development.
- Make professional development at institutions a priority by providing protected time for ongoing education and collaboration.
Interprofessional Continuing Education and Communication
- Promote interprofessional continuing education requirements to achieve strategic aims.
- Hold regular interprofessional think tanks focused on the changing environment.
- Provide continuing education credits to preceptors.
- Conduct current-update symposiums and workshops.
- Partner with hospitals, employers, and educators for cross-collaboration and discussion.
- Develop consortia for local, regional, and national interprofessional collaborations.
- Develop academic/practice partnerships that include students and faculty from a range of disciplines and sectors (e.g., health, law, business).
- Use an interprofessional team teaching approach for continuing education.
Simpson, D., K. Marcdante, K. H. Souza, A. Anderson, and E. Holmboe. 2018. Job roles of the 2025 medical educator. Journal of Graduate Medical Education 10(3):243–246.
Walsh, K. 2015. Medical schools for profit? Annals of Medical and Health Sciences Research 5(3):155–156.