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Eleven Faculty Honored with 2021 Excellence in Education Awards

News October 14, 2021

Excellence in Education Awards“She teaches with vigor and joy." "A driving force in curricular development.” “Because of her enthusiastic attitude, I have not forgotten important material.”

Comments like these were part of the honors for eleven faculty members on October 7 when Amy J. Goldberg, MD, FACS, Interim Dean, hosted the 2021 Lewis Katz School of Medicine Excellence in Education Awards. “One factor towers above all else in making the Katz school outstanding,” she told the honorees. “You, our extraordinary faculty.”

Nominations for the awards – which recognize exceptional work in the classroom, laboratory, clinic, and community – were solicited from medical and graduate students, residents, fellows, program directors, and clinical and graduate faculty, as well as from the community at-large. The following faculty in this year’s rigorous competition.

The Medical Program Teaching Award in the preclinical education category, recognizing contributions to medical student education, went to Bettina Buttaro, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Education and Data Science, and Jamie Garfield, MD, Professor of Thoracic Medicine and Surgery.

Drs. Garfield and GoldbergDr. Buttaro has distinguished herself by the amazing work she does in developing curricula and integrating curricula -- working closely with collaborators to tie basic and clinical education together. Moreover, she is a fantastic educator,” Dean Goldberg said. Students laud her ability to convey a high volume of information without making them feel overwhelmed -- making learning fun, interesting, and doable, as a student evaluator said. Dr. Buttaro intuitively understands how students’ minds work, say her colleagues. She knows how to structure an educational session, teach in an engaging and interactive manner, and sets a powerful for keeping content fresh and current – always communicating new advances in the field.

Dr. Garfield’s keen recognition that every person learns differently makes her an effective clinician and an effective educator,” Dean Goldberg said. Walk into one of her classes and you’ll probably find her sitting with a student team – helping them work through the process of clinical reasoning, modelling how a physician thinks across systems. Dr. Garfield is great at having students apply knowledge to clinical problems, colleagues say – always asking ‘why’ and posing ‘what if’ – to help them develop true understanding of the material. She’s also a driving force in curricular development and in creating fair and inclusive content, bringing awareness to structural racism in medicine, weaving in health policy and social determinants of health. Colleagues say they learn content and pedagogy when they’re facilitating with her; “she’s made us better educators,” they say.

The Medical Program Teaching Award in the clinical category went to Dustin Pardo, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine. “Modeling self-reflection, Dr. Pardo is a teacher who demonstrates what lifelong learning really means,” said Dean Goldberg. “He ‘thinks out loud’ to demonstrate the systemic and rational way he approaches complex medical problems, weaves real-life lessons about diagnostic error and bias into his teaching, and never presumes things ‘should’ be implicitly understood or absorbed in a passive manner.” In all settings, large and small, Dr. Pardo’s teaching enraptures. “I recall being struck by how captivated the students and residents were by his presentation,” said a peer. Dr. Pardo brings fresh ideas to the table – like the internship bootcamp he developed, with a workshop for other educators to follow suit – an effort that earned national recognition.

ErkmenThe Graduate Medical Education Program Teaching Award for excellence in educating residents and fellows went to Cherie Erkmen, MD, Professor of Thoracic Medicine and Surgery, and Pravin Patil, MD, Professor of Medicine in Cardiology.

“While we’re honoring Dr. Erkmen for excellence across graduate medical education, what really stands out are her recent efforts to improve the culture of inclusion within thoracic surgery and surgery at the national level,” Dean Goldberg said. Last year and this year, Dr. Erkmen created seven education modules for the Surgical Council on Resident Education and standardized (for the American Board of Surgery) a national curriculum for diversity, equity, and inclusion competency that all surgeons will need to meet for Board Certification. These initiatives were documented in national journals, with Temple medical students and trainees as co-authors – a pride point for all and testament to Dr. Erkmen’s leadership.

While Dr. Patil’s leadership extends nationally and internationally as well (with efforts on behalf of the American College of Cardiology and the American Society of Echocardiography), he was honored primarily for his masterful direction of Temple’s cardiovascular fellowship program and medical student clerkship in cardiology. “He brings analytical skills and emotional intelligence to education that is ‘hands on’ and ‘eyes on,’ leveraging echocardiography, CT angiography, and other modalities to solidify concepts,” Dean Goldberg said. “Under his guidance, Temple fellows leave with an excellent foundation of knowledge and the ability to be facile and nimble across multiple modalities as we care for patients,” a trainee said.

The Graduate Science Professional Program Teaching Award went to Marion Chan, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Education and Data Science, and Ana Gamero, PhD, Associate Professor Medical Genetics and Molecular Biochemistry. Like several other honorees, both teach not just at the medical school but at other health and science schools within Temple University as well.

Dr. Chan makes it her mission to identify what is uniquely important at each school -- and tailors her approach accordingly. She also tailors options to how students learn because she sees that giving them freedom to choose is a form of respect that empowers students,” said Dean Goldberg. She makes teaching fun, too, incorporating gamification into clinical diagnosis and immunology exercises. Most importantly, she teaches with her heart, not just her brain. She’s known for reaching out to students during times of hardship. “Her compassion enriches education,” a nominator said. Among the student comments were these: “Amazing, inspirational, encouraging, tireless. Simply one of the best.” “I would rate this course 11/10 if I could.”

“Dr. Gamero is known for teaching with relatable examples – always breaking complex concepts into digestible bites. She has an outstanding ability to convey abstract concepts like oxidative phosphorylation and ATP hydrolysis in terms of everyday life,” said Dean Goldberg. Nominators laud her ability to teach rigorous material. And do so with kindness and delight, even as she pushes students to ever-higher levels of understanding and competency. Said a student: “Dr. Gamero is amazing. Her approach develops students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Drs. Kishore and GoldbergThe Basic Science Mentoring Award was presented to Raj Kishore, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Cardiovascular Science. “We’re honoring Dr. Kishore for mentoring that spans every nuance of what success in science requires,” Dean Goldberg said. “For gently and persuasively pushing trainees outside their comfort zones – to make them more competitive in their careers.” Across the board, he is praised for his “singular devotion to the training and success of his mentees.” Said one of the scientists he trained: “It’s been a privilege to know this brilliant, dedicated scientist. He provided everything I needed to develop as an independent researcher.”

He teaches trainees to take ownership of their own science yet also shows, by example, why science requires a team.

The Education Service Award, recognizing contributions that go above and beyond duty, went to Anjali Vaidya, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine. “Despite their prevalence, the broad category of diagnoses that impact the heart and lungs remains terribly under-recognized. Given the lack of formal curricula across medical school, residency, and fellowship to adequately address this patient population, Dr. Vaidya has made it her personal mission to teach all levels of physicians across all specialties as much as she can,” Dr. Goldberg said. A nominator called Dr. Vaidya’s efforts ‘nothing short of staggering,’ in and outside of Temple.” Of her own role, Dr. Vaidya says, “I passionately believe that my greatest impact and legacy will be made by carefully attending to one patient at a time and one trainee at a time.”

The Educational Scholarship Award for excellence in medical education research, went to David Wald, DO, Professor of Emergency Medicine. “His peers and mentees laud the exceptional quality of his teaching, research, and service in medical education – calling him ‘an influential and strong role model for medical education and educational scholarship who consistently -- and insistently -- finds ways to incorporate junior faculty into projects,’” said Dean Goldberg. The award recognizes Dr. Wald for his contributions to curricular innovation – and for always working to share those innovations publicly for the greater good.

The Community Outreach Award for dedication to improving the lives of others through leadership, social responsibility, and mentorship, went to Natalia Ortiz-Torrent, MD, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. “Nominators used the terms ‘pillar of our community’ and ‘unselfish service evident in everything she does,’ to describe Dr. Ortiz,” Dr. Goldberg said, listing the programs that Dr. Ortiz-Torrent has spearheaded for underserved Philadelphia communities across a wide variety of issues and concerns. The award also recognizes Dr. Ortiz-Torrent for the important physician well-being programs she created as President of the Philadelphia County Medical Society – a role that coincided with the emergence of COVID and one that she commanded with poise and aplomb.