Monday, March 18, 2013

Residency Match Day

The residency match just concluded last week.  For those unaware of this annual event close to the end of medical school, students interview with and rank residency programs, and programs do the same with interviewing medical students.  Information about the results of the Match can be found here
Students found out their individual match results on Friday, March 15, 2013, opening envelopes with the name of the program where they are headed for their residency training.  It is an incredibly anxiety-provoking yet exciting event that most physicians remember for years to come.
From the program point of view, I am ecstatic to see the names of the medical students I have the privilege of training for the next four years after they graduate in a few months.  This year was no exception.  I couldn’t be prouder of the students matched to my program!  The joy that comes from observing the opening of the envelope and just knowing where one will spend the next few years is a sight to behold.
With the advent of smartphones and tablets that can capture moments like Match Day easily, it is exciting to see how different schools approach this rite of passage.  There was even a Twitter handle to capture the information across the country: #Match2013.  Below is a short list of how some medical schools “observe” Match Day.  The list is certainly not exhaustive, but is fascinating to show how different schools approach Match Day festivities.

And some, like my own institution, Indiana University School of Medicine, found students who threw a bit of humor into the day:
Congratulations to all of the students who matched!  May your futures be bright, and may your passion for caring for patients continue to flourish!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Promotion and Tenure: Peer Review

In the world of academic medicine, Promotion and Tenure (P&T) refers to the process where someone “applies” to rise up the ranks from Lecturer, to Assistant, to Associate, and ultimately, to “Full” Professor.  There are set criteria for this process set forth by academic institutions.  I am impressed at how the P&T process at my institution is disseminated out to faculty: complete transparency in what the expectations are.
I recently attended a session for faculty to teach us about this process.  I have been to these before, but I learn something new every time I attend these.  It allows me to understand what I need to be doing within a timeline, what data I need to collect, and how I should go about crafting my “personal statement” (akin to the same personal statement one writes for residency applications).
While hearing about the criteria at a faculty development session on P&T, I learned about different ways to apply scholarship.  I am pleased that my institution uses the word “scholarship” instead of “research”, because scholarship is more broadly defined and does not restrict it to only publishing papers in traditional medical or scientific journals (although those are still the “holy grail” of scholarship).
Given my interest in social media, and blogging, I asked a simple question: “Would describing my blog and my foray into social media through Twitter be considered scholarship?”  After all, my blog is really about Medical Education in general (it is even in the title!).  It was a simple question, as at the time, other examples of scholarship besides publications in mainstream journals were being described.  The answer came in the form of a question: “Is your blog peer reviewed?”
Apparently, having something be “peer reviewed” is a critical step to making it “count” as scholarship (in the eyes of P&T, at least).  Another step is “retrievable”.  Whew!  That one is easily attainable—but the peer reviewed part—I’m not so sure.
It got me thinking.  How can we “peer review” content disseminated via social media, with respect to medicine or medical education?  A great blog here (from earlier today!) describes a future direction of medical education, called “FOAM”.  In it, the author describes the lack of peer review, but also calls into question the “traditional peer review process”.  What I love is a reference to an article titled “Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals”, which, undoubtedly and ironically, required peer review, to get into the journal in the first place.  Another article describing a survey to chairs related to E-learning as educational scholarship concludes that chairs feel that e-learning is valuable as scholarship. 
So here is the question to ponder: how can those who blog or use other social media tools within medicine or medical education achieve the “peer review” criterion for P&T?  Or should we call into question that criterion, as demonstrated in the article?  Given the explosion of social media (including blogging) in today’s society, should we push to abandon or adapt the “it needs to be peer reviewed” component necessary for scholarship within academic P&T committees?
At this time, I am still crafting my own opinion on this, but figured “Why not crowd source the question and see what others think?”  In reality, that is a version of a “peer review process” in and of itself.  Please feel free to weigh in on this topic; I would love to know your opinion.