Back in 2007, when you first arrived here,
you noted enhancing educational
programs as something that was going to be a
And that’s something that was way
beyond my personal expertise. But we
have people here who are very strong
educational leaders — Lewis First, and then Bill
Jeffries — who have been great to work with.
When Bill Jeffries came to me and said “Here’s
the data on where we ought to be going,” it was
hard to argue with 250 studies that all pointed
toward the immense value of active learning.
Dr. Larner’s gift has accelerated our work
dramatically, but we were going in that
direction already. Dr. Larner challenged us to go
further, and provided us the resources to do
that. We’ve been able to accomplish our goals
even faster than we’d planned, and I do believe
the medical education we offer here will be
second to none. A year after the Larners’ gift, we
had a five year plan, and almost immediately
we jumped to year three of the plan. By year
three we hoped to start telling the world where
we were. By the end of one year, the world
already knew. I think there is no college of
medicine that in the last few years that has
received as much national and international
recognition for their educational program. I
have never seen anything like it in my career.
We have a compelling story.
Along with our active learning work, we’ve
built a Teaching Academy to help faculty
develop teaching techniques and study the
results, and keep improving our efforts. That’s
an unprecedented thing.
This dovetails very interestingly with
your relationship with alumni. You’ve
spent a lot of time over the last decade getting
to know our graduates. It’s interesting that
one of our oldest alumni was most influential
in making possible the most modern of
Our alumni feel involved. That’s why we
consistently rank so high in alumni
support and engagement. Bob Larner was an
example. He was a person who wanted to see
results, and I understand that. That was true
when he first started supporting student loans
and scholarships — he wanted the data on how
that was helping. We kept showing him the
results. I think it was the confidence in our
ability to produce results, and his gratitude for
where his medical education had taken him,
that guided his incredible generosity.
That also led to improvements in our
Clinical Simulation Laboratory, didn’t it?
And to our knowledge, and we
surveyed medical school sim centers, our
is the busiest one in the country. We actually
teach more students, in more hours. Others may
be bigger and shinier, but ours is actually used.
And it actually has an impact with the students.
Another challenge you’ve faced
is building clinical education
Yes, that was certainly a challenge.
It was a real loss for us when we lost
Maine Medical Center. But we rebounded
from that quickly. We set up agreements with
other places with substantial clinical
foundations. And we also managed, as part of
that, to find a much more diverse population of
patients, and of physicians and educators, to
work with our students. ...Which was an
unexpected positive outcome, I think. That was
something that Maine didn’t offer. Bill Jeffries
just really scrambled to make that happen.
There were ups and downs. There were
challenges, and we had to meet those
challenges, but our partners worked with us.
And now we’re at the point where we
have a branch campus.
Now we have a formal branch campus,
with Western Connecticut Health
Network, recognized by the state of Connecticut,
and by the LCME, our accrediting body. And
there’s actually a potential for growth of that
now with WCHN’s merger with Quest, which
has four more hospitals on the other side of the
And meanwhile our program with St.
Mary’s in Florida is thriving. It’s one of our
highest-rated clerkships every year.
And you’ve overseen the formation of
longitudinal integrative clerkships.
That was an attempt to do more, in a
setting like those in the smaller hospitals
in our network, where it’s almost impossible to
do a traditional clerkship, but over a year, with a
broad panel of patients to follow, it can be very
successful. We started piloting it with Hudson
Headwaters Health Network a year ago, and our
first group of students did incredibly well. We
have four more students there this year and
we’re working on doing another LIC at Central
Vermont Medical Center next. If we can train
students like that in Vermont, that’s great, and
this is what we’re working to do — using the
network to expand clinical education.