Dr. Amar Deshpande Named Assistant Dean for Medical Education

Highly regarded as an educator by colleagues and students alike, Amar Deshpande, M.D., associate professor of medicine, is taking on a new role that will further transform medical education at the Miller School of Medicine. Deshpande has been named Assistant Dean for Medical Education and Competency Assessment, a new position that will serve to create a coordinated continuum between undergraduate and graduate medical education.

“This is very exciting as we take a big step toward approaching medical education as an ongoing and seamless process,” said Deshpande, a Miller School alum who is Co-Director of the Internal Medicine Clerkship for third-year medical students and Director of the Gastroenterology Fellowship Training Program. The role is believed to be one of the first in the nation’s medical schools to address the readiness of medical school graduates for residency.

While all medical students must pass a sequence of basic science and clinical exams in addition to competency assessments before graduation, nationwide there has not been a consensus about a core set of requirements expected of all graduates before they enter residency.

“We have not had a clear set of metrics to bridge the transition from medical student to resident,” said Deshpande, who in his new role will work to create a smoother transition between the role of being a medical student and that of a resident, by working between undergraduate medical education and graduate medical education at the Miller School. He will report to Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., Executive Dean for Education and Policy, Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, and Joan St. Onge, M.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education.

“This is an exciting initiative toward enhancing a competency-based approach to education that traverses both the UME and GME worlds,” said Mechaber. It’s a concept that has reached the national spotlight. In 2013, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in partnership with the American Board of Medical Specialties initiated the Milestone Project to define levels of performance for each competency, expecting that residents achieve these milestones before graduating from training. This project has resulted in establishing the Core Entrustable Professional Activities for Entering Residency.

The Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) are tasks that trainees are entrusted to perform without supervision once they have attained sufficient expertise, similar to a competency. Medical students will now focus on achieving 13 EPAs, such as gathering a patient history and performing a physical examination, interpreting common diagnostic and screening tests, and providing an oral presentation of a clinical encounter. In addition, some of the 13 focus on inter-professional communication, and urgent or emergent management of patients.

Gardner says, “Ideally, this implementation will be the grading mechanism that a student has completed medical school or residency.” He sees the new position as a model to recognize the importance of a smooth and seamless transition from student to resident and to serve as an example to be adopted by other institutions. “Amar has a bright future as an educator. He has earned the respect of students, residents, and faculty and has shown to be very capable in the field of education.”

A winner of numerous teaching awards, Deshpande knew he had an interest in medical education that grew as he taught students and interns, and then took on clerkship and residency programs. “I enjoyed on-the-ground teaching, but kept seeing holes to fill.” That scope of experience is what makes him an ideal fit.

Mechaber says, “One of his unique roles will be to look globally across undergraduate and residency programs to examine ways to ensure that learners are competent in the core areas.” Deshpande, who is associate professor of medicine in the Gastroenterology Division, says medical education “should be a continuing base of knowledge that you’re accruing.”

He faces a monumental task but plans to start with a handful of specialties, such as internal medicine and surgery. He will bring clerkship directors, those who work with the third- and fourth-year students in specific areas, together with residency program directors in the same field. Using the EPAs as guidelines, they will create milestones and then find ways to assess these competencies, incorporating the expertise from colleagues at the Michael S. Gordon Center for Research in Medical Education.

St. Onge says the position will enhance medical education across the board. “This will ensure that our Miller School graduates are even better prepared for their residencies and in turn help us shape the future of assessment of trainees in graduate medical education. Amar is a great fit given his experience in both worlds.”

Deshpande will begin transitioning to his new role in December. He says this system will ultimately take buy-in from every institution, from student educators and resident educators, but says he is excited. “We have to create anchors. In the end, you’re a better learner if you know what’s expected of you.”

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