Award Recognition

Nephrologist Patricia Kao Receives Inaugural Academy of Educators Exemplary Educator Award

Patricia Kao, one of three recipients of inaugural Academy of Educators Exemplary Educator Award.

Patricia Kao, MD, MS, MHPE, Associate Professor in the Division of Nephrology, is one of three recipients of the inaugural Academy of Educators Exemplary Educator Award.  The award recognizes faculty members with at least six years of service who are making a name for themselves as educators through their contributions to education and mentorship here at Washington University.

“This is such an honor, and I feel extremely fortunate,” says Dr. Kao.  She and two other WashU faculty, Amanda Emke, MD, MHPE (pediatrics) and Steven Taff, PhD, OTR/L, FNAP, FAOTA, (occupational therapy) were selected from a large pool of talented educators.  The award was handed out in person on October 11, 2022, at the Academy of Educators Education Day, a special event featuring educational topics, networking opportunities, and celebration of new inductees to the Academy of Educators and education-focused award recipients.  (See the Education Day agenda here.)

Kao has built an extensive list of accomplishments in clinical education since she joined WashU Nephrology in 2016, most notably the creation of the Washington University Teaching Physician Pathway (WUTPP).  With the support of the prestigious Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Teaching Fellowship (2017-2019), she designed and pioneered the WUTPP program and curriculum, which provides residents and fellows who are interested in medical education with the opportunity for in-depth professional development as clinical educators.

Under Kao’s leadership, the WUTPP program, initially developed for the medicine residency program, has grown from its inaugural class of eight internal medicine residents to now including 27 active residents from internal medicine, general surgery, dermatology, ob-gyn, and pediatrics. To date, 27 residents have also graduated from the WUTPP program.

Due to the success of the WUTPP program, Kao recently expanded the program to include a separate clinician educator certificate track for pediatric and internal medicine sub-specialty fellows in 2021.  The inaugural class of WUTPP fellows includeds seven IM fellows, representing adult infectious disease, cardiology, rheumatology, and nephrology, and six pediatric fellows representing pediatric fellowships in hospital medicine, endocrinology, emergency medicine, and neonatology. 

“The WUTPP didactic curriculum now delivers over 80 hours of synchronous and asynchronous sessions that provide WUTPP residents and fellows with the foundational knowledge and skills needed to develop as scholarly clinician educators,” says Kao.  In addition, she has created opportunities for the WUTPP residents and fellows to practice their teaching and educator skills actively through dedicated mentored teaching roles for UME, GME, and interprofessional education courses. 

For their education scholarship projects, Kao pairs WUTPP residents and fellows with education faculty from the greater WashU community, as well as from the Danforth Campus and the Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education (CIPE).

Over 70 curricular contributions to WashU UME and GME programs have been developed by WUTPP residents and fellows in the form of live, interactive didactic sessions, synchronous virtual learning sessions, and asynchronous online modules under the mentorship of master clinician educator faculty since 2017.  Additionally, WUTPP residents and fellows have taken on pivotal roles in facilitating small groups and teaching didactics to pre-clinical and clinical medical students, as well as residents. 

“As the WUTPP residents and fellows employ scholarly and innovative approaches to their teaching, they have accelerated change and contributed to the modernization of instructional strategies throughout our medical school curriculum and in the medicine residency program,” says Kao. 

WUTPP residents and fellows have also presented their education scholarship in the form of poster presentations, oral presentations, and workshops at national meetings, such as the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine AIMW Spring Meeting, the Society for General Internal Medicine Annual Meeting, and the AAMC Learn-Serve-lead Annual Meeting.  WUTPP graduates have taken leadership positions in medical education, including UME coursemasters and residency-level associate program directors. 

My father has always instilled in me not only a passion for medicine, but also for teaching and for investing in making the next generation better than our own.

Patricia Kao, speaking of her physician-teacher father, Dr. Ming-Shian Kao.

Kao didn’t have to look far to find a source of inspiration and encouragement for her career in clinical education.  “My father, Ming-Shian Kao, was a professor/faculty member at WashU in in gynecologic oncology for over 20 years, and he is a former recipient of the Department of OB-GYN Teaching Award,” says Kao.  The award is displayed on a wall outside McMillan hospital and his name is carved in the stone wall there, along with other master teachers recognized by the Dept of OB-GYN. 

Academy of Educators award ceremony, Oct. 11, 2022.

Patricia Kao with her father, Dr. Ming-Shian Kao, a physician-teacher who had been honored with other master teachers by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology when he was a faculty member here.

Learn more about Dr. Kao’s achievements in the following WashU Nephrology News articles:

On Twitter, follow @kao_patricia@WashUAcadEd and @WUNephrology