Managing the transitions in medical education just got easier

Timothy M. Smith , Contributing News Writer

Training doctors might seem uniquely challenging within professional education, but it has a lot in common with how corporate executives are trained. A new handbook brings together the expertise and thought leadership from capital development to target key issues at each tenuous transition point in medical education.

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The AMA’s Facilitating Effective Transitions Along the Medical Education Continuum handbook looks at the needs of learners across the continuum of medical education—from the beginning of medical school through the final stage of residency. It is the latest publication from the physician experts who are part of the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium.

The learner sections help medical students and resident physicians acclimate to the various settings and expectations in the medical training environment. The faculty sections then provide blueprints for transition programming, as well as resources to help students and residents navigate challenges in transitions. Download the handbook now.

“There are comparisons that can be drawn between learners transitioning across the continuum of medical education and corporate executives who are transitioning into new roles,” the introduction notes. “The need to ‘hit the ground running,’ perform in high-stakes environments, lead and function within a high-performing team, and execute critical decision-making that impacts the lives of multiple individuals are common elements between a physician in training and a corporate executive transitioning into a new role.”

The handbook captures the perspectives of learners from across the medical education continuum, as well as MD and PhD faculty, gathered through group interviews moderated by executive leadership experts from Odgers Berndtson, a global leadership advisory firm.

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The handbook’s guidance is broken out according to four stages of transitions: to medical school, to clerkship, to residency and to the role of senior resident. Focusing on success, personal identity and skill acquisition, it describes how to maintain wellness by embracing outside interests and learning to share burdens with others.

Each stage is explored through lessons in the following areas.

Vignettes. These demonstrate some of the ways things can go wrong and how to respond when they do.

Position description. During the transition to medical school, for example, “learners work predominantly in a classroom setting, similar to previous educational experiences. However, learners also begin to develop a professional identity and are becoming members of the health care team, both within the classroom and in the broader community."

Differences between the stages. This can include changes in workload, application of knowledge and skills, personal responsibilities and growth mindset.

Key stakeholder groups. These could be peers, patients, family and friends, as well as residents, attending physicians and other members of the health care team.

Success criteria. Students must know their patients and the medical, psychosocial and system issues with their patients, as well as be able to present succinctly, the handbook notes about the transition to clerkship. “This demonstrates integration of knowledge and recognition of what is important.”

Commonly encountered issues. These include burnout and disorganization outside of work, including in resident and student finances. The handbook also proposes solutions.

Desired outcomes. For example, “the first year resident should focus on gradually developing the skill set for the next stage in their training by anticipating potential problems, formulating contingency plans, triaging patients appropriately, managing a broad range of medical emergencies, and educating others while maintaining healthy well-being in all dimensions of their daily life.”

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Each learner-directed chapter is followed by a corresponding faculty guide with tips on how to design two programs that improve the educational experience and boost learner performance.

Following the chapter dedicated to the transition to medical school, for example, the faculty guide explores what actions faculty or programs should take to support students in meet the criteria for success.

Check out other publications that have grown out of the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium’s transformative efforts in undergraduate and graduate medical education.

Learn more about the AMA Reimagining Residency initiative, a grant program that aims to transform residency training to address the workplace needs of the current and future health care system.