Say hello to our featured member Edwina Smith

Edwina Smith

Our association is a robust and diverse set of educators, researchers, medical professionals, volunteers and academics that come from all walks of life and from around the globe. Each month we choose a member to highlight their academic and professional career, and see how they are making the best of their membership in IAMSE. This month’s Featured Member is Edwina Smith.

Edwina Smith
Second-year medical student and Student Body President
Mercer University School of Medicine

How long have you been a member of IAMSE?
Since August 2020

Looking at your time with the Association, what have you most enjoyed doing? What are you looking forward to?
I have found IAMSE’s journal Medical Science Educator super helpful. I’ve enjoyed being able to read about concepts such as peer-teaching and other innovative methods of fostering learning. In medicine, we search for ways to improve the health outcomes of patients, and this requires lifelong learning. IAMSE fosters my development as a student and my future career in academic medicine. I’m looking forward to the networking aspect of IAMSE and excited about new opportunities to network with other learners and educators who are passionate about medical education. I also look forward to being more active in IAMSE’s Student Professional Committee and getting other students more involved in this committee to brainstorm ingenious ways to further the goals of the committee.

Tell me a bit about your time with the Student Professional Development Committee? Why did you join? What projects are you working on? Etc.
At Mercer University School of Medicine, we’re in the midst of developing a Students as Teachers program where students learn about theories of teaching and learning, educational scholarship, and what the broader field of academic medicine has to offer. Students also have opportunities for practical teaching sessions. We’ve undergone a successful pilot program and are now launching a formal Students as Teachers curriculum. Equipping learners with teaching and leadership skills means they will be better educators of patients, colleagues, and policy makers to effect change within the communities in which they practice.

The other reason I am especially passionate about the Students as Teachers curriculum is that students like me, pursuing a career in academic medicine where Black women make up 2% of the workforce, face unique challenges in terms of leadership identity. This program is an opportunity to enhance the diversity of the academic medicine workforce and produce a diverse faculty body so that future students will have more role models who can help them to navigate their leadership identities and career paths. 

Tell me a little bit about the focus session that you will be presenting at the Annual Meeting in June titled “Are the Biomedical Sciences Really Necessary? How Medical Students Use the Biomedical Sciences.” What really excites you about this topic and about presenting it at #IAMSE21?
There’s a lot of reflective thinking that spans a clinician’s career. That reflection is in part responsible for how clinicians organize their mental models of disease. We thought it would be interesting to examine how medical students utilize their basic science knowledge to care for patients they encounter in their first clerkship. 

Anything else that you would like to add?
The past year, 2020, brought with it a lot of challenges. I want to acknowledge how medical schools and their dedicated faculty have responded to the pandemic with resourcefulness to continue to help their students learn, grow, and even become part of the healthcare effort to vaccinate people in their communities. When faced with the pandemic, Mercer University School of Medicine rose to the challenge and will come out on the other side of this pandemic better. That’s a testament to the fact that our faculty and staff at Mercer see their work as a calling rather than a job. I am immensely grateful to have found a home at Mercer. I am also grateful to have a new home in IAMSE. 

IAMSE Reduces Student Member Rates, Offers Limited Number of Student Waivers for #IAMSE21

Membership in IAMSE provides professional advancement opportunities to network with colleagues at other medical facilities, establish collaboration and exchange programs, publish in the Association journal, conduct and/or attend courses and workshops on educational methods, present projects from your school, and develop the credentials of a truly effective medical educator.

IAMSE is happy to announce that the price for a single student membership has been reduced to only $25 per year. This includes students, fellows, or health professionals in training. A student membership in IAMSE includes:

  • Complimentary access to one full year of the Webcast Audio Seminar series,
  • Access to Medical Science Educator, written specifically for medical science educators by medical science educators,
  • Monthly digest of important current happenings in medical education that impact medical science educators,
  • Present your work, share your ideas and get feedback from an experienced international audience who teaches for a living and values student input. In doing so, improve your verbal and written presentation skills. Do all the above at the annual meeting in an enjoyable, relaxed environment chosen for its desirable locale,
  • Joint membership opportunities with our partner organizations, and
  • Discounts on registration for IAMSE Annual Association Meetings.

New for 2021

We are pleased to announce that a limited number of student registration waivers are available due to funds provided by Aquifer. If you are a student registering for the IAMSE Meeting and would like to apply for a registration waiver, please email a letter from your dean or department chair on university letterhead stating that you are a student to Waivers are limited so submit your letter today!

We look forward to welcoming many new student members to our annual meeting in June! 

#IAMSE21 Faculty Development Session Spotlight: Learning Analytics Across the Spectrum of Medical Education

The 25th Annual IAMSE Meeting will feature a host of new sessions throughout the entire conference. One of our first-time workshops is Learning Analytics Across the Spectrum of Medical Education. This half-day faculty development course, led by members of the IAMSE partner association, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) will be given on Sunday, June 13 and will be led by Laura Lukin, Seth Overla and Mark Speicher.

Learning Analytics Across the Spectrum of Medical Education
Presenters:Laura Lukin – University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
Seth Overla – University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
Mark Speicher – American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
Date and Time: Sunday, June 13, 2021, 1:45 PM – 4:45 PM EDT  

Learning analytics (LA) is the measurement and analysis of data about learners for purposes of understanding and improving learning. Scholars outside of medical education have used LA for years; however, medicine has been slower to embrace these techniques. Medical education lags behind other fields because of implementation challenges, ethical/privacy issues, and lack of awareness of the benefits of LA. In an era of increasing competition for residency positions, tracking and supporting the path of learners is especially important. This session uses an online workshop method, utilizing case studies to explicate the statistical techniques and describing implementation obstacles and successes, alternating with small group work. Three researchers will present case studies on the use of LA in their institutions, from admissions to UME and GME, explaining the fundamental methodologies used in creating their LA systems. They will describe how LA can be leveraged to improve student performance, and better identify at-risk students using LA. On the assessment front, researchers can explicate and potentially improve interrater reliability and objectivity on workplace-based assessments using LA. As a wrap-up, learners will establish a plan for using available data at their institutions as a part of an LA agenda that can be used to evaluate their course, program or college.

For more information on full- and half-day faculty development sessions, and to register for the 25th Annual IAMSE Meeting, please visit

IAMSE Spring 2021 Session 5 Highlights

[The following notes were generated by Michele Haight, PhD.]

Marquita S. Norman, MD, MBA, Assistant Dean for Student Diversity and Inclusion, Associate Professor, Wake Forest University School of Medicine

Kara L. Caruthers, MSPAS, PA-C, Assistant Program Director PA Program, Associate Professor, University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Contact Information:

Surviving Club Quarantine: Establishing Mentorship and Maintaining Wellness in a Diverse Student Population

DJ D-Nice “Club Quarantine” represents a unique opportunity for bonding, shifting and pivoting in these times of difficulty and challenge.

Mentorship: Talking with You
Coaching: Talking to You
Sponsorship: Talking about You

We are using the lens of “mentor” for our case discussions.

Seven Dimensions of Wellness:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Intellectual
  • Social
  • Spiritual
  • Environmental
  • Occupational

Graduate Health Professions students are impacted in all of the dimensions of wellness, but this presentation highlights the following four dimensions:

  • Emotional: possessing the ability to feel and express human emotions; achieving a sense of fulfillment in life.
  • Intellectual: encourages creative, stimulating mental activities…available to expand one’s knowledge and improve skills.
  • Social: builds a sense of belonging
  • Occupational: preparing and making use of your gifts, skills and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness and enrichment in your life.

We must be especially mindful of these wellness dimensions and how they are manifested in our students during their training.

We must bear in mind that we are still in a pandemic and our students have limited ways in which they are able to interact with one another.

Key Considerations from Case Discussions:

  • What role-modeling experiences do students have for the culture and environment of higher education?
  • What are some of the challenges and stressors of Graduate Health Professions education?
  • Imposter Syndrome is prevalent among women and people of color.
  • What are the institutional policies for students to be able to work during their training?
  • Does the institution have emergency grant funding?
  • What resources are available to ensure that students are psychologically safe throughout their training?
  • What are the institutional policies and procedures that address issues of microaggressions, faculty-student power dynamics, mistreatment concerns and the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations?
  • It is important to remember that there are so many ways that students can feel troubled during their training and to be able recognize how that affects their training.

Additional Considerations

  • Partnered students
  • Parents of schoolchildren,
  • Veterans,
  • High-risk populations with chronic diseases.

If students do not have a solid educational foundation in K-12 and undergraduate education, then they bring all of these experiences with them to the graduate Health Professions workspace.

Coordinated Health Workforce Pathway K-12

  • Pre training: How do students choose the Health Professions? How do students get into the Health Professions?
  • Training: How are students retained? How do students overcome certain challenges?
  • Workforce: How have students been prepared to transition to the workforce and address workforce-related issues?

We must hold ourselves accountable and ensure our students are well by practicing

Cultural humility and Cultural Responsiveness throughout their training.

Current Graduate Health Professions Students’ Demographics have changed:

  • Increase in number of first generation students
  • Increased ethnic diversity
  • Wider Age Range
  • Income differences

Across the Health Professions, accrediting bodies and professional organizations have adopted a strong focus on student diversity and wellness.

The pandemic has caused an increase in depression and imposter syndrome in Graduate Health Professions students.

Resources to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion:

Wake Forest:

  • Open, drop in, biweekly group for to support the mental health needs of women of color, led by a woman of color.
  • Mindfulness Book Club, a-racial justice-focused for faculty, students and staff.
  • Common Ground, a monthly safe space to discuss common issues and values.
  • Affinity Groups (Wake Forest Health System)
  • SNMA Movie Night.
  • Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) approach through the development of a Racial Diversity Task Force at the institutional (Wake Forest Health System) and local (Student Affairs) levels.


  • Zoom “Uncomfortable Conversations Series” (students, faculty and staff)
  • PA Program Book Club*
  • CARES Team /send concern to CARES team who is struggling
  • Campus-wide Food Pantry
  • QEP project on the social determinants of health

Diversity Equity and Inclusion Initiatives must address racism as a root cause.

We need to do the work at the institutional level to develop:

  • Sustainable programs vs. performative gestures.
  • Systemic review and adaptation to include:
    • Admissions
    • Curriculum
    • Clinical training
    • Remediation and Retention

We cannot return to “normal,” because “normal” was not working.

*Book Club Book List:

Black Man in a White Coat, Dr Damon Tweedy
The Political Determinants of Health, Daniel Dawes, JD
Redefining Realness, Janet Mock
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman

IAMSE Spring 2021 Session 4 Highlights

[The following notes were generated by Michele Haight, PhD.]

Shani Fleming, MS, MPH, PA-C, Associate Professor, University of Maryland Baltimore Graduate School, Norma Iris Poll-Hunter, PhD, Senior Director Workforce, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Association of American Medical Colleges, Rick McGee PhD, Associate Dean for Professional Development, Professor of Medical Education, Northwestern University School of Medicine

Strategies for Promoting Inclusivity in Health Sciences Education:

  • Pathways and Pipelines: Approaches to Increasing Diversity in the Health Professions
  • Diversity in Medicine, the Impact of Pre-Med Programs
  • Diversity in Research Training and Careers

Physician Assistant Programs:
Pathways and Pipelines: Approaches to Increasing Diversity in the Health Professions
Shani Fleming, MS, MPH, PA-C

  • The Physician Assistant (PA) program was created in the 1960’s to address physician shortages and promote health equity.
  • Physician Assistants work prominently in underserved communities and have the potential to significantly impact the care of racial and ethnic patients of color.
  • Demographically, the PA profession is predominantly white and female; current trends show a troubling decrease in diversity and highlight the need for innovative pathways and initiatives to increase PA diversity.
  • Health Equity is the ultimate goal and requires equal opportunities for underrepresented students in order to achieve educational excellence within the PA profession.
  • The University of Southern California (USC) serves as a model PA pipeline program that bridges the gaps between parents, students, schools and the community to guide and support potential PA students.
  • There are several Bachelor/Master PA programs allowing students to have an accelerated pathway for completion of a Bachelor’s degree and entry into the PA program. The University of Maryland Baltimore has partnered with local community colleges to create more affordable options for an accelerated Bachelor/Master PA program.
  • Project Access is a grassroots, outreach program which visits schools and communities to inspire and motivate underrepresented students to pursue a career as a PA.
  • The PAC (Physician Assistants of Color) program is a grassroots group which began on Facebook and is dedicated to increasing diversity in the PA profession through mentoring, increasing awareness and providing networking opportunities.
  • The PA profession is well positioned to collaborate with existing pipeline programs such as STEM, Myerhoff Scholars, historically Black, Hispanic and Tribal Colleges, etc. to increase exposure and opportunities for underrepresented students in the health professions.
  • In order to effect real change, we need to systematically examine the health professions institutional culture through an anti-racist lens to address racial disparities.
  • Instead of preparing students to enter a flawed system, we need to work on dismantling policies, practices and procedures that are exclusionary for students of color.
  • It is time to re-imagine admissions’ polices, recruitment strategies, and institutional culture. Now is our opportunity to move beyond “best practices” to innovative pathways for underrepresented students.

Medical School
Diversity in Medicine, the Impact of Pre-Med Programs
Norma Iris Poll-Hunter, PhD

  • This presentation examines the medical education workforce pipeline and the impact of these pipelines along the physician-training continuum.
  • Underrepresentation is pervasive across the health professions.
  • Underrepresentation in medical schools has evolved to looking at how medical schools define this by looking at local communities.
  • As the number of seats for medical students has increased over the years, the number of students who are underrepresented in medicine (UIM) has remained relatively stagnant.
  • Over the past 30 years, the majority (80%) of entering medical students come families whose incomes are at the top socioeconomic quintiles. Educational equity needs to look at both underrepresentation of race and ethnicity as well as intersections of income and how income impacts communities with less economic advantage.
  • In order to better understand underrepresentation, we must consider the system in which many inequities are embedded. There are systemic issues that need to be addressed in order to enact sustainable equity solutions.
  • Pathway/pipeline programs are essential, but cannot exist in isolation. Pathways/pipelines and broader systemic, socio-political issues go hand in hand to impact the trajectory of diversity across the health professions.
  • LCME accreditation requirements are an important lever for developing equity programs.
  • There are many different pathway/pipeline programs, starting with K-12 and extending to post –baccalaureate. The focus of these programs is to build social capital, clinical exposure and research.
  • Pathway/Pipeline programs make a difference in attracting non-typical medical students.

Successful Pathway/Pipeline Characteristics:

  • A bundle of activities, not just one.
  • Leadership and Faculty engagement. (This had the greatest impact on student outcomes.)
  • Student participants pursue professional careers across disciplines: law, business, health professions, public health etc.
  • Programs promote and increase diversity in the national pool and provide the ability to track participants.

Lessons Learned from Pre-Med Programs:

  • Pre-med programs make a difference; they increase diversity as a part of the solution.
  • Pre-med programs provide an emphasis on basic science study and learning skills through academic enrichment.
  • Bundling activities makes a big difference.
  • Faculty engagement is critical; it predicts success
  • National and local partnerships are critical to sustainability and helping to spread the word.
  • Grow local talent. Go to the community. Use zip code data; reach out to diverse talent.
  • The pandemic has taught us to integrate well-being programs into pipeline initiatives to better prepare underrepresented students for the unique experiences they might encounter over the trajectory of their careers.

PhD Programs in Biomedical Research:
Diversity in Research Training and Careers
Rick McGee, PhD

  • Compared to medical students and PAs, PhD students are paid to do their PhD training. After their second year, PhD students are more like residents because they enter the work world.
  • There has been a huge decline in the role of the standardized test (GRE) for PhD admission.
  • NIH funding drives PhD training.
  • Diversity efforts began in 1972 as an outgrowth of the Civil Rights Movement and focused on minority-serving institutions.
  • In the 1990s, this focus changed to research-intensive universities to develop diversity initiatives and to produce a much more intensive evaluation of program outcomes as a requirement to continue funding.
  • Over the past 30 years the number of students completing STEM and Bachelor of Science (BS) programs has risen substantially; the number of students entering PhD studies has more than doubled.
  • Programs such as SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanic and Native Americans in Science) and ABRCMS (Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students) support students and link underrepresented minority graduates to PhD programs. The AAMC GREAT (Group on Graduate Research, Education and Training) program made diversity efforts more prominent.
  • Data suggested that, despite these programs, the number of NIH funded PIs had not changed at all for those who had been supported by these programs.
  • Underrepresented diversity of faculty has changed very slowly over 40 years.
  • Simply getting underrepresented minority students into PhD programs is not sufficient. “Mass action” did not work, especially at the faculty level.
  • The dismal lack of impact of these programs prompted a concerted effort to create different ways to support PhD students beyond their PhD work.

These efforts included the following:

  • Diversity Supplements
  • Mentored Career Development Awards (K)
  • More emphasis on what goes on during training: T-32, NIGM Grants
  • Efforts to increase the skills of mentors and focus on inclusion.
  • MOSAIC Program (K99/R00) which includes integration transition into faculty positions.
  • Focused support through scientific societies.

Recent New Programs include:

  • FIRST (Fellowship in Research and Science Teaching) Program, which supports cluster hires.
  • NIH UNITE Program designed to end structural racism and achieve racial equity.

Contributors to African-American disparities in funding appear to be connected to the types of research African-American students are pursuing; these types of research are traditionally lower funded and undervalued by the NIH.

Efforts need to go beyond “numbers only” in terms of diversity and focus on inclusion and equity. These efforts need to understand and eliminate bias in review.

IAMSE 2021 Board of Director Election Results

According to IAMSE bylaws, nominations for the four open positions of directors for the Board of Directors were sought from and then voted upon by the IAMSE membership. Four candidates were elected and their three-year terms will commence immediately upon the close of our annual meeting on June 17, 2021. It is my pleasure to announce to you the results of these recent elections.

  • Director – Zhi Xiong Chen
  • Director – Colleen Croniger
  • Director – Alice Fornari
  • Director – David Harris

Zhi Xiong Chen and Colleen Coniger will complete their first full term as Directors, having joined the Board by presidential appointment last summer to fill open positions. We’d also like to extend a sincere thank you to Mark Hernandez and Cynthia Lord, who will be leaving office, for their service to IAMSE.

Please join me in congratulating our new IAMSE directors and in thanking them for their past and ongoing dedication and service. 

Many thanks,
Neil Osheroff, PhD
President, IAMSE

Early Bird Registration for #IAMSE21 Ends April 1!

The 2021 IAMSE Virtual Annual Conference is right around the corner! The Early Bird registration deadline is April 1, 2021. Currently, registration is $200/$250 for member/non-member. After the Early Bird Deadline, rates will increase to $225/$275 for member/non-member registration. Be sure to register before this deadline to receive the reduced rate!

Please note that ALL presenters and speakers must be registered by April 1, 2021.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let us know at Additional meeting details and registration can be found at

We’re looking forward to seeing you in June! 

Norman & Caruthers to Present “Surviving Club Quarantine”

The IAMSE 2021 Spring webinar series will explore strategies for inclusive teaching. Recognizing that unconscious bias is a crucial and contributory step in this endeavor, this series will explore how to recognize unconscious bias and create diverse, inclusive and equitable content for both the basic science curriculum and the clinical learning environment. The final session in the series will feature Marquita Norman from Wake Forest School of Medicine (USA) and Kara Caruthers from The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (USA).

Surviving Club Quarantine: Establishing Mentorship and Maintaining Wellness in a Diverse Student Population 
Presenters: Marquita Norman Hicks MD, MBA and Kara Caruthers MS, PA-C
Session: April 1, 2021 at 12pm Eastern Time

In this webinar, speakers will discuss why graduate health professions programs should address wellness, especially as it aligns with the current focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives. They will provide information on how their individual campuses address student wellness and provide practical examples on how webinar participants can implement ways to engage with students during limited face-to-face interactions.

Congratulations to the 2021 IAMSE Distinguished & Early Career Award Winners

IAMSE, on behalf of the Educational Scholarship Committee, would like to congratulate Alice Fornari and Kim Dahlman on receiving the Distinguished Career Award and Early Career Award, respectively.

The Distinguished Career Award for Excellence in Teaching and Educational Scholarship recognizes an IAMSE member who has a distinguished record of educational scholarship, including educational research and dissemination of scholarly approaches to teaching and education. Candidates must have a significant record of engagement within IAMSE. Alice Fornari is the Associate Dean of Educational Skills Development Zucker Som at Hofstra/Northwell and is the Vice President of Faculty Development for the 23 hospitals of the Northwell Health organization.

The Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching and Innovation honors an IAMSE member who has made significant innovations to the field in the short time they have focused their careers toward enhancing teaching, learning and assessment. Candidates must have demonstrated less than 10 years of educational scholarship. Kimberly Dahlman, 2021 awardee, is an Associate Professor of Medicine (Division of Hematology/Oncology) and Director of the Innovative Translational Research Shared Resource (ITR) in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Congratulations to Dr. Fornari and Dr. Dahlman. They will both be honored at the 25th Annual IAMSE Meeting in early June. Good luck to both of you in all your future endeavors.

Thank you,
Bonny Dickinson
Chair, IAMSE Professional Development Committee

A Review from Medical Science Educator from Dr. Melanie Korndorffer

This review is from the September 2020 issue of Medical Science Educator. The article I have chosen is Pascoe, M.A., Betts, K. Use of a Digital, Profession-Specific Dissection Guide Is Associated with Improved Examination Performance and Student Satisfaction. Med.Sci.Educ. 30, 1025–1034 (2020).

As a teacher of gross anatomy, I considered reviewing this article of original research a great opportunity. I enjoyed reading the Use of a Digital, Profession-Specific Dissection Guide Is Associated with Improved Examination Performance and Student Satisfaction by Michael Pascoe and Kourtney Betts. The idea of a profession-specific dissection guide is intriguing, particularly with the decreased amount of time allocated to anatomy both in schools for Allied Health professionals and physicians. Many digital dissectors, most institution-specific, have been evaluated and discussed over the past decade. The profession-specific consideration is unique and surprisingly useful. Perhaps, training medical students more for their eventual specialty may be considered when searching for an efficient education as time and money are more and more limited for training.

The importance of cadaveric based anatomy training for physical therapists is underpinned in this writing as physical therapy practice requires the ability to understand musculoskeletal anatomy and physical skills to manipulate tools and limbs. The consideration of cognitive load during anatomy lab is inciteful and helpful for those of us teaching anatomy. The discussion of retrieval practice on the lab-based content was useful. In combination with the decreased cognitive load, the decreased cognitive load contributed to the overall student assessment scores’ overall improvement and improved student satisfaction. The student feedback on digital dissector is interesting. The students did not care for the videos or the self-study of osteology. The pop-up glossary terms were popular, as were the image galleries and the formative quizzes.

The article is clearly written, technically sound, and well referenced. The limitations of the study are acknowledged may be addressed with further research. Congratulations to the authors on another fine original research paper from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus (Aurora, CO, USA)

Thank you for the opportunity to review this intriguing document.

Melanie L. Korndorffer, MD FACS
Director Gross and Developmental Anatomy, Advanced Surgery-Based Anatomy, and
Anatomy Certification and Leadership Program
Co-Vice Chair of Medical Education
Department of Structural and Cellular Biology
Tulane University School of Medicine
Room 3301, Hutchinson Bldg

#IAMSE21 Faculty Development Session Spotlight: Designing VR-Enhanced Educational Activities

The 25th Annual IAMSE Meeting will feature a host of new sessions throughout the entire conference. One of our first-time workshops is Designing VR-Enhanced Educational Activities: A Backward Design Approach. This half-day faculty development course will be given on Saturday, June 12 and will be led by Yerko Berrocal and team.

Designing VR-Enhanced Educational Activities: A Backward Design Approach
Presenters:Yerko Berrocal – University of Illinois Peoria
Andrew Darr – University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria
Mark Huang – Municipal WangFang Hospital, Taipei Medical University
Thomas Lin – Center for Education in Medical Simulation, Taipei Medical University
Daniel Salcedo – Taipei Medical University, Center for Education in Medical Simulation
James Thomas – Keio University School of Medicine
Date and Time: Saturday, June 12, 2021, 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM EDT  

Virtual reality (VR) use for health professions education has been rapidly growing during the past few years. This educational technology offers great potential benefits, including better learner engagement, ability to provide learner-centred adaptive content, with a strong focus on experiential learning. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of evidence-based best practices in VR-education, and poor implementation strategies can lead to limited educational outcomes and unnecessary costs. Proper design of VR-enhanced educational interventions based on proven educational frameworks with appropriate assessment strategies is essential to take full advantage of this technology. This interactive workshop aims to introduce the principles of backward design for VR-enhanced learning activities to improve educational outcomes and reduce unnecessary costs associated with deficient implementation, through the careful integration of educational objectives and assessment methods. Selecting the right tools for the job is essential in the successful utilization of any educational technology, and gaining the necessary knowledge of how to optimize VR in health professions education is critical to establishing a successful program. This workshop has been successfully conducted in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and this is the first opportunity to hold it in North America.

For more information on full- and half-day faculty development sessions, and to register for the 25th Annual IAMSE Meeting, please visit

IAMSE Spring 2021 Session 3 Highlights

[The following notes were generated by Michele Haight, PhD.]

Arianne Teherani PhD, Professor of Medicine and Education Scientist, Director for Program Evaluation and Education Continuous Quality Improvement,  Karen Hauer, MD, PhD, Clinical Professor, Associate Dean for Assessment,  University of California San Francisco School of Medicine

Achieving Equity in Assessment for Clinical Learners

Equity in assessment  occurs when all learners have fair and impartial opportunities to learn, be coached and receive feedback, be assessed and graded, be advanced and graduated, and be selected for subsequent training and job opportunities. (Lucey et al. Academic Med 2020)

Equity in clinical education is a relatively unexplored area. There is not a singular definition of equity. Equity is built upon the following principles:

  • Acknowledgment that differences are not deficits
  • Supporting the success of all learners
  • Implementation of multiple types of assessments
  • Holding all learners to the same high standards
  • Moral, legal, political, economic and social dimensions
  • What constitutes an equitable outcome?

Conceptual framework for thinking about equity

  • Closing achievement gaps (key outcomes we desire to achieve)
  • Equal treatment (adequacy and opportunity)
  • Fairness (personal or social status are not obstacles to achieving educational potential) and Inclusion (ensuring a standard of education for all)
  • Justice

What does it mean to have equity in assessment?

Core ideas of two prevailing equity in assessment  frameworks (Gibbs and Lucey) have been organized into one framework that is focused on macro and micro level solutions. Both levels of solution need to be addressed to propel change.

  • Macro level of solution (procedures/policies, top down mandate)
  • Micro level of solution (occurs in micro settings/one on one interaction)


  • Intrinsic Equity (assessment practices are just and fair for all groups and minimize bias)
  • Instrumental Equity (results are shared and used to create opportunity; interpretation of results is just and fair)
  • Definition of Achievement (takes into account how achievement is defined; what does the institution and the teacher consider achievement; what are the knowledge and skills that are equated with achievement? )


  • Contextual Equity (learning environment factors, teachers’ beliefs, fairness in the learning environment, bias-free learning environment)
  • Multifactorial (learner identity, self-esteem, motivation, expectations for success)

Key Evidence about Equity and Clinical Performance Assessment

  • Differential attainment addresses how educational outcomes diverge for different demographic groups which are assessed in the same way
  • Studies show differences in clinical performance assessments favor non-UIM (underrepresented in medicine) learners.
  • Amplification Cascade shows how a small difference in assessed performance leads to larger differences in grades and selection for awards.
  • A UCSF study of its own learners showed evidence of an amplification cascade for UIM learners and demonstrated that academic outcomes differences favor non UIM learners throughout their medical education experience.
  • UCSF conducted a Root Cause Analysis to assess what happened, why it happened and how it can be prevented. Results indicated the following:
  1. Factors that caused the differences were personal, interpersonal, cultural and structural.
  1. Personal/Interpersonal factors that included stereotyping, microaggressions, unconscious biases, etc. disproportionately impacted UIM learners.
  1. Cultural/Structural factors embedded in institutional policies (e.g., normative vs. criterion-based grading) and present in the clinical learning environment (e.g., rapidly changing team assignments) disproportionately impacted UIM learners.
  2. These impacts resulted in fewer honors grades and awards for UIM learners and affected UIM residency specialty choices and the potential for academic career choices.

To address equity in clinical performance, there needs to be an integrated, systems approach to change which focuses on the following:

  • redesign of medical school curricula
  • redesign of learning and assessment methods
  • faculty development and training programs to identify and avoid bias
  • use of frequent observations and feedback as a best practice for assessment
  • use of narrative assessments over time
  • avoidance of comparing  learners

Countermeasures and Solutions implemented by UCSF

  • Advocacy and Health Equities curriculum in Internal Medicine clerkship
  • Altered clerkship assessment practices (e.g., grading committees)
  • Re-envisioned honors societies’ membership processes
  • Faculty training to recognize microaggressions and bias, especially in the learning environment
  • Reinforce Educational CQI habit of mind; establish and implement Equity Evaluation Plan.

The clinical learning environment is complex and raises questions about equity.

Concerns about bias found UIM bias affects all aspects of assessment. Non UIM learners were rated slightly higher than UIM.

  • Bias is not merely an individual problem; it is a systemic problem.
  • Many biases are harmful.
  • It is not possible to remove all bias.
  • Bring awareness to biases so we can make a choice to avoid acting with harmful discrimination.

We need to design systems that allow all students to learn and become best. This requires a cultural change in medicine.

Factors to consider in determining a clerkship grade:

  • Did team members observe the student contributing to patient care?
  • Did the learning environment allow learners to perform at their best?
  • Do learners and team members share a common understanding of expectations?
  • What structural factors in learners’ educational experiences before and during medical school might lead to differences in grades?
  • What process does clerkship director use to determine final grade?

There are three components of equity in assessment:

  • Intrinsic equity : the way one designs and conducts assessment practices.
  • Contextual equity: addresses the environment in which learning and assessments occur.
  • Instrumental equity: how use assessment information such as  grades, to determine selection for next opportunity or honors and awards.

Intrinsic Equity:

Older Model of Assessment Practices
Purpose: Classify and rank learners; some students learn more and better. There is  little feedback; promotes fixed mindset
Learner ability: Some will learn more and be better
Feedback:  infrequent, correct/incorrect
Progress: Time-based
Context:  De-contextualized
Mindset: Fixed

Current Model of Mastery Assessment Practices
Purpose: Promote and shape learning (all learners have capacity to learn and succeed)
Learner ability: All learners have the capacity to learn
Feedback:  Frequent, immediate and actionable
Progress: Based on progress map/competency-driven
Context: Real world/interact with patients
Mindset: Growth

We need to challenge faculty to think differently to overcome old assumptions and adopt a growth mindset.

Characteristics of a Growth Mindset in Assessment

  • Recognizes and rewards growth and improvement.
  • Rethinks the cultural affinity for excellence; the view of excellence in medicine is that a few learners and a few physicians are truly the top and we can identify those. This is a faculty myth based on working with learners for a few days or a week.
  • Reframes meritocracy. Not all learners start at same point or have the same experiences. In the learning environment, with attention all learners can be highly successful.
  • Establishes a non-competitive learning environment; changes the learner focus from keeping achievement higher than peers to individual focus on how to be better tomorrow than today.

UCSF Interventions:

  • Faculty Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Champion Training
  • Website for Assessment Guidelines and Equity Checklist for Assessment Faculty are encouraged to continue to reflect upon their own biases, and observe learners to better understand all the ways they are contributing to patient care.
  • Changes to clerkship assessments: Establish grading committees, eliminate core clerkship honors grades in third year so learners have a year to learn, grow and receive feedback.

Contextual Equity: (Learning and Assessment Environment)

  • Environment offers opportunities for all students participate and learn.
  • Faculty preparation including allyship against stereotype threat and microaggressions.

Factors influencing performance of UIM learners:

  • Stereotype threat: phenomenon in which performance is impaired due to fear of confirming negative stereotypes.
  • Microaggressions (can emanate from patients, team members, observations and images)
  • Microaggressions can appear as:
    • Microassaults
    • Microinsults
    • Microinvalidations
    • Environmental Images

Bystander Intervention Guide

  • Pre brief : anticipate that microaggressions and will occur; engage learners in how they would like a response.
  • Recognize and analyze microaggression.
  • Consider type of response, e.g., bear witness, intervene with patient, pause, exit room.
  • Respond in real time.
  • Check in with learner immediately.
  • Follow up (based on learner preference).

Instrumental Uses of Assessments: Use of assessments for purposes for which they are not designed. For example, clerkship exams are intended to assess and ensure minimum knowledge competency at the end of the clerkship, but are used to determine clerkship grades, AOA selection or residency selection.

UCSF changed its selection practice for AOA away from metrics to  a holistic process in which learners submit an application and describe how they feel they meet the criteria for AOA, which center on serving the sick.  UCSF no longer participates in AOA due to a conflict of values.

Changing assessments in medical schools raises questions about residency selection. Many national organizations are working to improve the residency application process to ensure it promotes learning across the continuum rather than maintaining a focus on a high stakes selection process.

Recommendations for achieving equity in assessments:

  • Examine your own data.
  • Design your assessment to fit your purpose.
  • Continuously improve assessment.
  • Think of assessment as a system.
  • Consider the intrinsic, contextual and instrumental aspects of equity in assessment.