Say hello to our featured member Kirsten A. Porter-Stransky!

Kirsten A. Porter-Stransky at the IAMSE 2022 Annual Conference Gala Dinner in Denver, CO, USA

Our association is a robust and diverse set of educators, students, 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 Kirsten A. Porter-Stransky.

Kirsten A. Porter-Stransky, PhD
Assistant Professor
Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, USA

How long have you been a member of IAMSE?
I joined IAMSE in 2018.

What brought you to IAMSE? Why did you decide to join and how did you get more involved with the Association?
When I began as a faculty member at WMed, I transitioned from full-time behavioral neuroscience research to medical science education. When I inquired about professional development, a colleague told me to join IAMSE. I attended my first IAMSE meeting in Roanoke in 2019 and thought, “I’ve found my people!” A few years prior, I did not know that medical science education was a career path option for PhDs. Through IAMSE, I have met hundreds of fellow medical science educators, many of whom have become colleagues, mentors, and friends.

For subsequent annual meetings, I presented posters and focus sessions. During the pandemic, I stayed connected to colleagues and the association through the IAMSE Cafe. To become more involved and give back to the society, I joined the Membership Committee and the Virtual Forum Planning Committee. I am completing the IAMSE Fellowship program and am looking forward to receiving my certificate in Cancun this June!

Looking at your time with the Association, what have you most enjoyed doing? What are you looking forward to? 
The annual meeting is my favorite IAMSE event each year. Getting to reconnect face-to-face with colleagues, meet new medical science educators, present my research, and participate in engaging professional development sessions makes me a better educator, scholar, and mentor.

In between the annual meetings, I enjoy staying connected to the association through professional committee work. On the Membership Committee, we are working to retain current IAMSE members, broaden the membership base internationally and across health professions, and build community among members. Compared to other associations, I truly believe that there is significant value to IAMSE membership, and I hope that all members can take advantage of the opportunities that IAMSE membership entails.

While it is no secret that I love in-person conferences, there are undeniable advantages to virtual meetings, such as accessibility, inclusivity, and affordability. Therefore, I was honored to join the inaugural IAMSE Virtual Forum Planning Committee. This is not your basic online conference: with support from IAMSE leadership, the committee has worked hard to develop an engaging and innovative format with ignite talks, lightning talks, workshops, and an anti-oppression in healthcare education panel. 

What interesting things are you working on outside of the Association right now? Research, presentations, etc.
Right now, I am gearing up to direct our behavioral science course next month and am putting the finishing touches on new TBLs and a lab. As co-chair of WMed’s Women in Medicine and Science (WIMS) group, I enjoy designing events to support women in academic medicine and science both for professional development and for building communities of support. 

My medical education research focuses on the integration of biomedical and clinical sciences in medical curricula and uses qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. I am fortunate for great collaborators. And I am thrilled that a recent paper with collaborators Bonny Dickinson, Kris Gibson, Kristi VanDerKolk, Edwina Smith, Lisa Graves, and Roger Edwards is now in press in IAMSE’s association journal Medical Science Educator.

Anything else that you would like to add?
IAMSE has many opportunities for health professions educators. I encourage all members to get involved whether through presentations, publications in Medical Science Educator, attendance at conferences, or committee work. (And if at first you don’t succeed, try again. It may take a few tries to find the right fit, but there is room for all of us to grow within IAMSE.)

Finally, I want to express gratitude to the many IAMSE members and leaders who have welcomed me into the association, provided mentorship, and opened doors for scholarship, collaboration, service, and professional growth. I will not list names out of fear of leaving someone out, but please know how immensely thankful I am for you! And to those I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, I hope we can connect at an IAMSE event soon!