Fellowship fosters patient-centered care in medical education

Fellowship fosters patient-centered care in medical education

Photo: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

The Rathmann Fellowship program at Stanford University has the mission to promote patient-centered care in medical education. Each year, physician fellows are selected based on their interest in medical education and passion to pursue further study and activities related to patient-centered medical care.

Today we have the opportunity to interview a recent graduate of this program:

 Dr. Sermsak "Sam" Lolak was a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Stanford University.

How did you learn about the Rathmann program and what got you interested?

 I remember getting an email to the faculty and being intrigued by this opportunity to further my learning in medical education.

I had some involvement in medical education already particularly with residency and fellowship training programs. I spoke to several other people about the program and the reviews were quite positive. It helped that my [department] chair was supportive as well.

 Can you tell us a little about the day-to-day activities of the program?

We work with a faculty member of the E4C program to observe and co-teach a continuity course in the first two years of medical school as part of of their Practice of Medicine curriculum where they learn the finer skills of bedside manner, basic elements of the medical history, and physical exam skills through real or standardized patient encounters.

Another half day a week, we have a seminar course where we work with Medical Education faculty and staff to learn the fundamentals of curriculum development, evaluation techniques, and medical education research. I found this time very inspiring. 

What was the highlight of your experience?

One of the great opportunities of this experience is the weekly seminar where the Rathmann community would meet. We were sounding boards for each others' ideas and we were able to push our ideas further by than they otherwise would have without the other fellows' and faculty's input.

 What else did you do as part of your time as a Rathmann fellow?

I was already interested in one particular part [cultivation and practice of mindfulness and compassion in medical practice] of medical education that I wanted to develop further. Through the Rathmann program, I was exposed to new aspects of medical education including curriculum development, learning theory, different research techniques and how to develop my own independent education project. I was able to assimilate more amorphous ideas into a more cohesive plan with action items.

How has this program shaped the direction has this shaped your career?

This opportunity has given me time to think about where I want to go. Mentorship it provided allowed me to hone in on and negotiate the pathway of academic educators. I was also introduced to new people who had similar interests and able to find partners to collaborate on this work.

Dr. Waimei Amy Tai is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Neurology & Neurological Sciences at the Stanford School of Medicine.

Dr. Lolak is now at George Washington University where he is director of the Psychiatry Consultation and Liaison service. He parlayed his knowledge gained from the Rathmann program to negotiate further opportunities to teach and educate mindfulness and compassion in medical practice.