Category Archives: Faculty Development

Making It Fun and Successful: Strategies for Working With Learners in Academic Difficulty

By La Donna Porter, MD, and Margaret Stafford, MD.

Have you ever felt frustrated or daunted when trying to help a struggling learner? We, the co-chairs of the STFM Group on Learners in Academic Difficulty, understand! And we want to help you experience the satisfaction of helping your learners reach their highest potential.

Below are key strategies that will help you assess and assist your own learners: motivational interviewing, creating a differential diagnosis for the behaviors, and developing target behaviors and plans. We also include cases, so read on to see how you can use these skills to work with:

  • A resident who refuses to admit a patient
  • An intern with disorganized presentations
  • A senior resident who struggles to lead the team

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How Can New Faculty Get Everything Done?

Sarina Schrager, MD, MS

Sarina Schrager, MD, MS

New faculty members are bombarded with a plethora of new duties. Clinical and teaching work tends to take precedence because of their urgency, while scholarship and professional development is at risk of neglect until those tasks becomes urgent as well. So how does a faculty member stay on top of all of these tasks?

Many faculty make weekly to-do lists and day to day lists in order to stay up to date on current projects. I have found that using a structured to-do list is very helpful in getting more done. The list helps me navigate the academic workload and maintain a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Another benefit to using to-do lists is that it increases my productivity. Psychology studies show that by writing down what you have to do, you unburden the brain from worrying about what you need do to and can actually accomplish more (The Zeigarnik effect).

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The First Job

Virginia Van  Duyne, MD

Virginia Van
Duyne, MD

I have always been sure of my desire to become a family doctor but within my first year out of residency, the assuredness in my course was turned on its head. Maybe some of you have been in the same position. Maybe, like me, your early assurance carried you through many long hours in the library and wards of medical school and the early mornings and late nights of residency. Then before you knew it, you were in the last year of residency about to launch into your first real job as a doctor. For me, the importance of this decision was weighty; it was the pinnacle of all those years of training, finally my chance to go out and do what I had set out to do.

Graduation came and went and soon my husband, our two young children, and I were packing up our home to trek across country where we would set up a new life and establish a career in a rural, underserved community. I jumped headfirst into the practice and community.  At first, my pediatric patients would hide behind their mom’s legs and eye my blonde hair and tallness suspiciously. Many times I laughed with my patients as I made yet another mistake in Spanish, but they delighted in helping me to perfect my Mexican accent. They brought me cantaloupes and I delivered their babies. The staff embraced me as their own families’ doctor and I learned the ecstasy of fresh, hand-made tortillas.

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