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February 2017 Edition
In this Issue: Division of Professional Education Courts Variety   |  #LHSCollaboratory: A Multidisciplinary Hub   |   A Rigorous Masters on Your Own Time    |   DLHS Profile: Jeffrey Stout   |   DLHS Profile: Sandra Hearn & Vesna Ivancic   |  DLHS Profile: Oliver Gadabu

Opening Remarks

This issue of The Loop illustrates the span and diversity of our department's programs. The lead article overviews the multiple programs of our Division of Professional Education, focused on improving the experiences of individual learners across the health professions. This is followed by a description of the new LHS Collaboratory, which is developing research initiatives spanning the entire campus and focused on Learning Health Systems. We continue with an article focused on our Master of Health Professions Education program, a first of its kind competency based program. After you read these articles, I encourage you to scroll down, as the next three articles feature four of our talented people: Jeffrey Stout, a key member of Clinical Simulation Center staff; Sandra Hearn and Vesna Ivancic who are enthusiastic participants in the Medical Education Scholars Program; and, last but certainly not least, Oliver Jintha Gadabu, who hails from Malawi and is one of the superb doctoral students in our Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems PhD program.
Tom Fitzgerald, PhD and Caren Stalburg, MD, MA (photo right) engage with colleagues during a Division of Professional Education meeting. Also pictured (from left to right):  Cheryl Moyer, MPH, PhD; Deborah Rooney, PhD; Dierdre Jeske.
Division of Professional Education Courts Variety

Just west of the Taubman Health Sciences library the historic Victor Vaughn building houses the Department of Learning Health Sciences’ Division of Professional Education (DPE) – a group of diverse faculty whose work brings the benefits of educational science to bear on medical education improvement and leadership in Ann Arbor and beyond.
When it comes to faculty scholarship, DPE casts a wide interdisciplinary net. “We are focused on the science of learning and education whether that’s studying how health care is provided in low resource areas in Ghana or educating health science faculty to teach the next generation of health care providers” explains Division Chief Caren Stalburg, MD, MA, whose own focus is teaching methods and teacher development. Full-time and joint faculty include medical doctors pursuing interests in technology in education, curriculum development as well as the medical school to residency education continuum. It also draws behavioral scientists representing backgrounds in psychology, education, sociology, and anthropology.
One such scientist is James (Tom) Fitzgerald, PhD, who is also the associate director for education in the U-M Geriatrics Center. A specialist in measurement and survey design, his Diabetes Knowledge Test has been translated into 15 languages. Always with an eye toward improvement Fitzgerald, along with other DLHS faculty Martha Funnell, Robert Anderson, Gretchen Piatt and researcher Robin Nwankwo, has recently released an updated version of the test. Competency-based medical education expert Larry Gruppen, PhD also has an international reach but most recently his travels kept him closer to home, having been named a Michigan State University 2016 Maastch Visiting Scholar.
Fostering interprofessional education is a priority for the division which co-sponsors the annual Health Professions Education Day, or HPE Day. Abstracts are due February 16th for this year’s HPE Day on April 13th with keynote by Jeanette Mladenovic, MD, MBA, MACP, Former Executive Vice President and Provost, Oregon Health & Science University.
Always looking to innovate medical education into the future, DPE is seeking out faculty who will push the boundaries of teaching and learning research in an ever-changing health ecosystem.

#LHSCollaboratory: A Multidisciplinary Hub for U-M Thinkers

When it comes to establishing the Learning Health System (LHS) Collaboratory as the epicenter of LHS scientific advancement, no academic discipline is off limits. Every corner of campus is encouraged to bring their ideas and appetite to these monthly exploratory sessions.
At its October 2016 launch, the LHS Collaboratory welcomed scholars and practitioners from over 40 U-M departments and schools specializing in everything from Public Health to Pediatrics, Art & Design, Information Science, Engineering and Business. Some were new to the idea of continuous cycles of improvement in healthcare via a Learning Health System, others like hosts Charles P. Friedman, PhD and Douglas Van Houweling, PhD have been leading the charge.
The energetic atmosphere of that inaugural meeting carried through to the November seminar which examined a specific set of LHS lessons learned by the directors of The Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative.  January’s attendees honed in on the exploding field of Mobile Health Technologies as it pertains to LHS progression.
Van Houweling, Collaboratory co-host, describes workgroups as a vital part of the process, “The workgroups will provide the foundation for Learning Health System research and development at the University.”  These groups are already coming together around the following areas:
  • Sociotechnical Infrastructure
  • Ethical, Legal & Social Implications for Policy
  • Large Scale Funding
  • Organization and Business Models
  • Implementation Process
The next LHS Collaboratory on March 14 (12:00 - 1:30 p.m. at Palmer Commons) will welcome speaker Julia Adler-Milstein, PhD.  She is an Associate Professor of Information at the U-M School of Information as well as Health Management and Policy at the U-M School of Public Health.
Join our email list, then come to a session. And remember it’s Michigan, so make sure to put on your thinking cap
Larry Gruppen, PhD leads the Masters of Health Professions Education retreat. The graduate program is one of the unique learning opportunities offered by LHS.

A Rigorous Masters on Your Own Time

Time is scarce for today’s busy health providers. When they want to improve their teaching and learning skills via advanced graduate studies, flexible options are virtually non-existent. That’s where the competency-based Masters in Health Professions Education (MHPE) comes to the rescue.
Competency-based education research has been on the rise in the last 15 years. Renown expert in the field, Larry Gruppen, PhD is the director of the four-year old program which uses that research to turn the traditional masters of health education program paradigm on its head. “We’ve tried to eliminate time from every aspect of the program,” says Gruppen noting that “learning is based on students’ workplace activities doing double duty.” Gone are lecture times and prescribed courses. In their place is an individualized learning plan made up of Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) designed by the learner around his or her own sequence preference with guidance from a faculty mentor. 
The wide range of medical professionals that make up MHPE appreciate that they don’t have to take a leave from day job.  In fact, it’s essential to this program, built around five Competency Domains, that they continue working.  An exception happens twice a year when MHPE students make a pilgrimage to Ann Arbor for a two-day retreat.  This community of peers represents a variety of esteemed institutions: Georgetown University Hospital; Brown Medical School; Universite Laval in Quebec City and even the U.S. Air Force.
One of the program’s first participants is U-M physician Jennifer Stojan, MD.  She praises the program for preparing her for her role as Director of the Doctoring Course at the Medical School.  “Not only did I learn about the core principles of curriculum design and assessment, but I also developed a strong cohort of mentors that continue to help me even after I have graduated.”
For those who literally want to learn on the job, the MHPE program might be the perfect fit.  As you may have guessed, applications are accepted year-round.

DLHS Profile: Jeffrey Stout, An EMT Comes to the CSC

On any given workday you’ll find the Clinical Simulation Center’s (CSC) Jeffrey Stout mixing fake blood to approximate just the right nosebleed color or troubleshooting the mock operating room as med students navigate a cardiac arrest. 
A full-time simulation technician since August 2016, Stout is new to the CSC but he’s been helping people since joining the Farmington Hills Fire Department fresh out of high school. As an EMT he enjoyed patient care but not that 24/7 on-call, especially once he married and started a family.
After a stint at St. John Providence, he moved to St. Mary’s in Livonia working with a nurse educator conducting EKG classes. As a Livonian he liked the location but to expand his horizons he jumped at the chance to join the CSC. “I love it here – it’s fantastic.” says Stout, praising U-M’s resources and citing great chemistry within the four-person operations team. Stout thrives in the bustling work environment that changes hourly: an ultrasound class in the morning; lumbar punctures instruction in the afternoon; planning for the CSC expansion somewhere in between.
Being able to spend evenings and weekends with his three kids, coaching his son’s football team, taking his daughter to gymnastics or settling in for family movie night makes the CSC job all the sweeter for Stout. Plans to pursue a degree may hover in the future, but for now there’s plenty of work to be done.
Jeffrey Stout is a Simulation Technician in the Clinical Simulation Center in the U-M Department of Learning Health Sciences.

DLHS Profile: Two U-M Faculty Embrace Education & Each Other’s Ideas

Doctors Sandra L. Hearn (photo left) and Vesna Ivancic (photo right) are part of a mutual admiration society, otherwise known as the Medical Education Scholars Program (MESP). Since first meeting last September at the start of the 10-month long professional development program, they have been exchanging ideas once a week with a diverse MESP cohort. The interactive nature of the program sessions is fertile ground for collaboration - often producing “instant friendships” among students like Hearn and Ivancic.
Ivancic, a pediatric urologist, started life in Croatia before migrating to equally scenic and welcoming Northern California. When the mother of four arrived at U-M in 2010, after a UCLA residency and fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, expanding her teaching repertoire was an early goal. “I came here and I asked my boss, ‘can I do the MESP program - I found it online?’” He encouraged her to get some experience under her belt first but Ivancic kept thinking about how to craft a competitive application.
Meanwhile, Canadian Sandra Hearn had finished Harvard med school and was in residency at Case Western Reserve University. Three years ago she arrived at U-M to specialize in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation where she teaches EMG. “I’ve always had a strong interest in teaching. I love trying to communicate concepts by helping others find those moments when things become clear,” says Hearn, explaining the desire to hone her education leadership skills.
Each lends a critical eye to the other’s MESP project. Ivancic is developing a website to help families manage their pediatric urology condition, an educational and troubleshooting tool empowering patient’s families to make better decisions. Hearn is working on an online feedback system to give medical presenters the ability to customize the questions asked of their audience after grand rounds, a class or seminar. Ivancic notes that “feedback is effective when it is specific” to underscore how Hearn’s project intersects with a crucial MESP idea as well as the DLHS pillar of continuous improvement.
Both doctors look to create balance outside their professions. Hearn and her husband are serious board game players and love a good adventure. Family dominates Ivancic’s leisure hours but she and her husband wouldn’t have it any other way. Ivancic and Hearn envision reaching out to each other even after completing MESP, a common occurrence among MESP alumni. It may be an easy task since both seem right at home in Ann Arbor.
The MESP application process to recruit its 19th cohort will be open March 1 through May 5, 2017. Please contact MESP Director Patricia Mullan at for more information.
Sandra L. Hearn, MD is an Instructor in the U-M Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 
Vesna Ivancic, MD is an Assistant Professor in the U-M Department of Urology.

DLHS Profile: Oliver Jintha Gadabu, MPH - from Malawi
to Ann Arbor

Health Infrastructures and Learning System (HILS) student Oliver Jintha Gadabu likes a challenge. It’s no surprise then he’s developing his Medical Informatics career with Malawi in mind, a nation that struggles with access to physicians and electricity. Gadabu, who has already made IT inroads working for the Baobab Health Trust, sees opportunity in his home country as it strives to modernize its national health system. Last fall Gadabu left Africa for Ann Arbor (his wife, Margaret, hoping to follow soon) in pursuit of a PhD in the U-M Department of Learning Health Sciences’ newest graduate program.
Raised in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capitol city, Gadabu attended a typical public primary school where 100 students per class is the norm. According to UNESCO only about 1% of Malawians go on to obtain a college degree, making Gadabu’s BS in Computer Science and Statistics from the University of Malawi Chancellor College and his MPH in Medical Informatics from the University of South Africa all the more impressive. “My father and mother played a big role in encouraging me…” says Gadabu. “The constant message was that a university education has more guarantee of making one into a productive citizen.”
He appreciates the holistic approach of the HILS program and how his colleagues have helped him acclimatize. And recently Gadabu received the best news yet – Margaret, having obtained a diplomatic post for Malawian government, arrives in Washington, D.C. this month.
HILS is accepting applications for its MS degree program until March 30, 2017.
Oliver Jintha Gadabu, MPH, is a PhD Student in the Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems (HILS) program.

On the Horizon…

Prof. V.G.Vinod Vydiswaran is co-teaching a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Applied Text Mining in Python, part of a five-course specialization series on Applied Data Science with Python and winner of the September Challenge Award from Coursera for Most Popular New Specialization. Certificates are available for completing the series. Since its launch in October 2016, more than 55,000 learners worldwide have engaged with the content.

About Us

The Department of Learning Health Sciences is a basic science department focused on the sciences that can make learning effective, routine, and scalable, from individuals up to systems that span states and nations.

The Loop is published three times per academic calendar year by the University of Michigan Department of Learning Health Sciences.

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