Dr. Patricia Kao Receives AAIM Educational Innovation Grant

Congratulations to Associate Professor Patricia Kao, MD, MS, Nephrology, who is a recipient of an AAIM (Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine) Innovation Grant for FY 2018-2019. Dr. Kao is one of ten recipients chosen from a national pool of over 100 applicants.

These AAIM grants support medical education innovations that address unmet needs or gaps in current educational approaches. The grants are funded by an unrestricted educational grant from Aquifer, a non-profit organization known and respected for its health care educational courses.

The focus of Dr. Kao’s project is the Washington University Teaching Physician Pathway (WUTPP) curriculum. The program, developed by Kao, prepares medicine residents with the required knowledge and skills to become inspired clinician educators. The WUTPP is the first structured resident teaching physician pathway here at Washington University.

“In this modern age of medical education innovation and reform, it is crucial to train our young physicians to be future leaders in active learning methodologies, so that they will be competent at engaging learners of all levels,” says Kao, who is also a recipient of the prestigious Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Teaching Fellowship.

For her AAIM study, Dr. Kao will compare different assessment tools of resident teaching that measure learner engagement and the activity of the classroom. The tools included in this study are video-based feedback, self- and peer- assessment and feedback using surveys and interviews, and the OPAL tool (Observation Protocol for Active Learning).

OPAL was developed by the Teaching Center and CIRCLE (Center for Integrative Research on Cognition, Learning and Education) at Washington University St. Louis, and has been used extensively in STEM education.

“I am excited to be collaborating with talented educators and researchers from the Teaching Center and CIRCLE for this project,” says Dr. Kao. Her project will be the first time OPAL has been studied in medical education, and it will provide WUTPP residents with an objective form of feedback for their teaching.

In addition to being the current director of WUTPP, now in its second year, Dr. Kao has developed a new Medical Education Fellowship for the Division of Medical Education (Department of Medicine), which will launch in July 2018 with its first fellow. This is a one-to-two year fellowship for medicine residents who have completed their medicine residency training and wish to pursue additional training in medical education scholarship, pedagogy, curriculum design, and leadership.

Dr. Kao is also collaborating with colleagues in nephrology and internal medicine to evaluate WUSM’s curricula in inpatient and ambulatory renal disease for medicine residents and medical students. This is in preparation for longitudinal curriculum reform, the goal of which will be to increase face time between nephrologists and trainees, expose learners to more diverse aspects of nephrology, and hopefully spark interest amongst more residents and students to pursue careers as nephrologists.

In addition to her educational initiatives, Dr. Kao is an involved mentor. She mentors 4th year medical students, medicine residents and renal fellows in clinical case development for undergraduate medical school courses in physiology, pharmacology, and pathophysiology, enhancing longitudinal clinical themes throughout the pre-clinical curriculum.

Kao is currently supervising medicine residents as they re-design the curriculum for the Intern Ambulatory Care Rotation, and she serves as a mentor for the Division of Medical Education’s Mentors in Medicine program (MiMs). She is also working with several medicine residents on projects involving near-peer teaching, peer-peer teaching, and inter-professional education in undergraduate and graduate medical education.