Students win awards for innovation in medical education

Troy Parks , News Writer

Focusing on an array of topics from physician burnout to data sharing, medical students from all over the country submitted ideas to the AMA’s Medical Education Innovation Challenge—and the winners are in.

The winners of the Medical Education Innovation Challenge were announced Monday at the first meeting of the newly expanded AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium, which now includes 32 of the nation’s medical schools. The challenge received nearly 150 submissions from student teams who answered the question: What does the medical school of the future look like to you?

Here are the four winning innovations from student teams.

“In search of a ‘Muse’: An open national exchange for the advancement of medical education” was designed by Amol Utrankar and Jared Shenson of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “Muse” is meant to be an online national exchange where medical schools can publish curricular materials as open-access content for use by educators and learners to make medical education more collaborative, evenly distributed and adaptive. The two jointly presented their idea at the consortium meeting.     

“Muse was born from the observation that progress in medical education moves at an incremental pace and often remains siloed within institutions,” Utrankar said. “Right now, students at Sidney Kimmel Medical College are learning to apply design thinking to health systems and patient care. Likewise, Oregon Health and Sciences University is training future doctors in clinical informatics and data science. I look at these curricular advances, and think, ‘That’s something I need to know today to be a doctor tomorrow.’”    

“But curriculum development in medical education takes time,” Utrankar said. “Building curricular modules, learning objectives, and learner materials is time- and effort-intensive. And right now, we do it in parallel within each institution. What if we shared our resources and opened flows of dialogue and resource-sharing across schools? Wouldn’t that make it easier for our administrators to import innovations that are generating change at other institutions?”   

Shenson explained how this might work. “On Muse, every curricular resource shared is evaluated by clinicians and educators in post-publication peer review as well as by learners and community members through quantitative and qualitative feedback,” he said. “By working together, the educational community surfaces organically the highest quality resources and the wealth of feedback provides evidence to guide continual improvement of all resources.”   

“Continual improvement and adaptation of resources is also a unique focus of the Muse platform,” Shenson said. “All content shared on Muse will be published under Creative Commons licensure, which encourages reuse and adaptation while preserving a chain of attribution and academic credit. Muse will feature tools that further enhance and simplify this process, highlighting contributors, changes and evaluative feedback.”



“Design-thinking, making and innovating: Fresh tools for the physician’s toolbox” was conceived to re-design medical education to empower students to understand their own problems and develop their own solutions through design and making skills. Mark Mallozzi, Ludwig Koeneke, Tim Bober and Lorenzo Albala, students at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, seek a new pre-clinical curriculum that incorporates skills centered around computer science, textiles and medical materials, and rapid prototyping technologies. They feel that if students foster these skills early, they will be better equipped to innovate for and impact the future of health care.

“Happy healers, healthy humans"

“Happy healers, healthy humans: A wellness curricular model as a means of effecting cultural change, reducing burnout and improving patient outcomes” was designed to teach students the important skills of self-awareness, communication and empathy to avoid physician burnout and as a result improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.        

Anish Deshmukh, Matt Neal, Melinda Ruberg and Katherine Yared, medical students from the University of Louisville School of Medicine, hope to “create a cultural shift amongst medical students, faculty and staff with the goal of improving health care systems and most importantly our relationships with our patients.”

“Community and classroom approaches to cultural competency and health equity.”

Nicole Paprocki and Carol Platt, students from Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, propose that medical schools develop a four-year, service-learning curriculum to address health care disparities. It is important that we “train a new generation of culturally responsive physicians,” Platt said.      

The curriculum will expose medical students to local underserved communities to build a deeper understanding of the social determinants of health and equip them with the tools to apply this perspective to their medical practice.

Learn about more innovative ideas (log in) student teams submitted as part of the Innovation Challenge.