Member Spotlight

This is an installment of our ‘Member Spotlight’ series, in which we feature a CHES Member and share how their area of research and innovation is impacting health professions education. In doing so, we hope to help propagate ideas throughout the community and provide a mechanism by which CHES Members may identify opportunities for collaboration and expertise sharing.

This issue focuses on Dr. Brenna Lynn, Associate Dean of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC.

Brenna Lynn

Why did you enter the field of Health Professions Education (HPE) research?

In 2008 I was hired into the role of the Director of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the Faculty of Medicine. I had just finished a PhD in Cardiovascular Physiology and I was looking for a major career change – I was actively seeking something that had a great deal of impact directly on patient outcomes. It turned out to be quite the fit as there was an opportunity to start research in the field of Medical Education which I found very exciting. To be honest, I had to do a lot of reading and listening and just being curious to catch up to the field of CPD (which I had almost no experience in when I began). After I started my role, Dr. Glenn Regehr was brought to CHES as the first faculty member and we began to meet frequently to talk about research in Medical Education. This was hugely helpful in getting me more versed in the literature and what conversations were happening in the community and through this mentorship Glenn got me actively interested in the field and what contributions I could make.

Brenna and familyWhat would you describe as your most significant contribution to the field of HPE research?

Initiating a more formal CPD program of research is an accomplishment that I am proud of, and it continues to be a work in progress. Over my career, I have been actively working on bringing more of a research focus to all CPD activities whether it be through relationships, resources, or acknowledgement of the importance of this work from a leadership perspective within an academic CPD unit. Probably my biggest contribution along with the team at UBC CPD has been evolving the CPD paradigm. The field is in the midst of a major shift towards embedding learning in the workplace and alignment with quality improvement. As one of the only existing levers for change, CPD has the power to transform clinical care delivery models, support team-based practice, and close gaps in care through enhanced relationships and data-driven practice improvement. One of the main focuses of CPD is building educational programs that cultivate relationships between health professionals, for example through coaching, mentorship, or post-program support. Research shows that longitudinal, multi-exposure, and relationship-based learning is highly effective. These activities have also been shown to increase professional satisfaction and be a catalyst for meaningful and sustained practice improvement. These changes in the CPD paradigms also presents opportunities for a new research construct which we continue to explore and pursue.

What have you been exploring in your current scholarship?

As I mentioned above, our approach to CPD is very different than it used to be where traditional forms of CPD are being augmented to provide personalized and bespoke activities that aim to assist physicians and other health care professionals in successfully applying what they learn into their practices to improve the quality of patient care. I am passionate about the safe and voluntary use of data to support and influence practice improvement and CPD. The majority of health providers in British Columbia now use electronic medical records which can be a powerful tool for identifying learning needs and tracking improvements in patient care over time. Much of the scholarship has been centered on supportive relationships that health professionals build as a result of CPD interventions such as mentoring and coaching programs. I have explored perceived and unperceived needs along with barriers and enablers that promote learning in a CPD context and feel that linking CPD to QI presents and opportunity for meaningful measurement in practice.

How do you find time/structure your HPE research to ensure the work moves forward?

This presents a constant challenge in my role as Associate Dean of CPD. Scholarship and research are very important to my work and my own values but in many instances get pushed to the side of my desk due to my leadership role. In the past, I would make small attempts to keep research pursuits moving whether it was through conversation, mentorship, or writing. Recently, I have been leading a research working group within CPD to begin to formalize the thinking and doing in order to embed research into daily work so there is more structure to support in building a program of CPD research. Working with others and setting individual and group deadlines has certainly helped ensure the work continues to progress.

What do you like to do outside work?

I love running and being outdoors, anything from hiking to skiing. I have run a number of marathons including the Boston Marathon in 2011. Recently, my physical activity consists of chasing around my two young sons (Ty age 4 and Jake had his first birthday on Christmas Eve) - they both keep me on my toes. I’m looking forward to more travel with my husband and children – we have already created a bucket list of trips we want to take as a couple and as a family in the coming years.

This is an installment of our Scholar in Highlight series, in which we feature a CHES scholar and their impact in their areas of research and innovation. In doing so, we hope to help propagate ideas throughout the community and provide a mechanism by which CHES members may identify opportunities for collaboration and expertise sharing.

This issue focuses on Teresa Green, an Occupational Therapist at Vancouver Coastal Health and Clinical Assistant Professor with the UBC Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

Teresa Green

What was your first research project about? What have you been exploring in your current research?

My first health professions education research project was the thesis project for my Masters degree in health professions education. A few years ago, I coordinated the development of a regional orientation strategy for occupational therapists hired at Vancouver Coastal Health. When we reviewed the literature to help inform the strategy, there wasn’t much there to help us. My curiosity about what is best practice for supporting new therapists led to me to explore what newly hired, new graduate OTs think of the employer supports they received when they start work. Choosing a very practical, very relevant topic kept me going even when it felt like a tough slog. Even though I have completed the degree, I am continuing on with this project. Because the prime reason for conducting this research was the lack of evidence in the literature, I would like to publish something that will hopefully be of use to other OTs.

Teresa on the east coast of Newfoundland in the summertimeCurrent work related to education

I work as an occupational therapy clinical resource therapist at Vancouver Coastal Health. In this role, I help occupational therapists (OTs) gain the knowledge and skills they need to be able to do their jobs. My job duties include creating resources, leading education sessions and helping therapists work through clinical issues as they happen. I am also a Clinical Assistant Professor with the UBC Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Over the years, I have done a number of roles related to occupational therapy students, including being a preceptor for fieldwork education, facilitating small group tutorials, being the clinical supervisor for student research projects and coordinating OT student fieldwork placements and clinic visits at Vancouver Coastal Health.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from doing education research?

I think the most important lesson that I have learned in my limited experience with education research is the value of having a clear plan for data analysis before collecting the data. I suppose that should be obvious, but I did need to learn it by experience.

What was your first teaching experience? How did it go?

My first teaching experience was teaching an Introduction to Rehabilitation course for rehabilitation assistant students at the College of the North Atlantic. I had only been working as an OT for a couple of years and didn’t have most of the experience the job posting asked for, but I thought ‘that sounds interesting, I’m sure I can do it’ (for not the first, nor the last time). It was a lot more work than I had expected…because it was the first year that the College offered the program, the teaching materials consisted of only a very rough outline.

What is your favorite part of the educational process?

My favourite part of the educational process is working with new graduates. I love watching them grow as therapists and seeing how relatively small actions on my part such as talking through complicated clinical cases can increase their confidence or skills and help them on their way to becoming fantastic occupational therapists providing excellent patient care.

What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work, my leisure activities have certainly been curtailed by working on my recently completed Masters degree. Now that I am finished, I am doing my best to catch up on my reading, baking, gardening and socializing. We have a house where friends and family often drop by for dinner. Most excitingly, I recently took up springboard and tower diving again after a decades long hiatus.

This is an installment of our Scholar in Highlight series, in which we feature a CHES scholar and their impact in their areas of research and innovation. In doing so, we hope to help propagate ideas throughout the community and provide a mechanism by which CHES members may identify opportunities for collaboration and expertise sharing.

This issue focuses on Dr. Cary Cuncic, a General Internist in the Department of Medicine and a graduate of CHES' Clinical Educator Fellowship program with her Masters of Medical Education at the University of Dundee. Dr. Cuncic completed her undergraduate MD at McMaster University and completed an internal medicine residency at UBC. Dr. Cuncic's administrative roles have included Undergraduate Internal Medicine Site Lead, Associate Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Programme, and Clerkship Director for Undergraduate Internal Medicine. She is currently the Associate Curriculum Director for the MD Undergraduate Programme, focusing on years 3 and 4.

Cary Cuncic

Cary Cuncic, dog and cat
What is your favorite part of the educational process? What keeps you inspired?

My most inspiring moments in my administrative roles came from my work as Associate Programme Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Programme. For 3 years I was responsible for designing, implementing and assessing all of the remediation for 150 residents. I am amazed at the resilience of struggling learners. At times their journey seemed overwhelming, but they persevered and ended up being very successful in the programme. Reflecting on their growth and achievements continues to inspire me today. With competency by design, we are focusing on competencies rather than time, and I am hoping that we can de-stigmatize the fact that some learners simply need more time and support to achieve their competencies. I currently reserve time in my clinic specifically for struggling learners and have taken second year medical students all the way to senior residents. I act as a Remediation Supervisor and am on a team with a mission to increase the flexibility of year 3 to allow remediation time for learners who need the extra time but do not necessarily need to repeat the entire year.

Cary Cuncic and sonWhat has been your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge I have is managing my schedule! I have competing administrative, teaching, clinical, research and personal schedules that all need to be amalgamated. For example I had to bake a cake for the school carnival “cake walk” the evening we had our big UGME retreat dinner (I baked it the weekend before and froze it … my mentor Joanna Bates has always advised me to simply buy a cake – but Joanna I could not in this case because every year I bake “the cake with the gummy bears and M&Ms”). It is inevitable that something falls apart from time to time. My goal has been to increase the intervals between those times… a work in progress. My colleagues in my division have been incredible. We all understand the complexities of the chaos of juggling and we step in to help each other all of the time. As my friend Craig says, “when you have the wrong day for a meeting, it actually doesn’t matter that you have the wrong time as well”.

What was your first research project about?

My previous research looked at a unique feedback model and we discovered that two conditions facilitated effective feedback: the teacher and learner were engaged in a longitudinal supportive relationship, and feedback was divorced from summative assessment. Building on this, I was involved in launching a coaching programme for the first year internal medicine residents: the design, the recruitment and training of coaches. Through this, we are supporting the residents to be self-regulated learners and the hope is for them to co-create learning goals with their coaches. One of my current research endeavours is to examine how this can best happen and how we can best support our coaches in this role. As Associate Director of Curriculum, I am launching a modified version of this aimed at fourth year medical students.

What do you like to do outside work?

Cary Cuncic, dog and catMy personal life is hectic, noisy and busy. I have three energetic (“spirited”) boys, a dog (Newfoundlander) and a kitten. Someone is always asking me for something, someone is always hungry, someone is always running down the hall, screaming or barking. Someone always needs a bath (and no one wants to take one … well maybe the dog is OK with it). But my kids won’t be living with me forever so I focus on enjoying every minute. I like to go out with my husband and friends for good food and good wine. My husband and I like listening to jazz and will try to seek out live bands when we can. I like to read and am still in the same book club I was before I had kids. I try to stay active with my children and we ski, hike, run (my oldest and I do the Sun Run together every year) and bike.