“Educational Policy Development as a Leadership Experience: Inclusive Institutional Change.” Innovation Reports and Beyond!

This Article Alcove features a paper from our very own here at Geisel, co-written by current and former medical students (Amal Cheema, Linda Morris, Arvind Suresh, Briggs Carhart, Christopher Thomson, and Liam Synan) and faculty (Meredith Sorensen and Sonia Chimienti)! Published as part of a special call by Medical Science Educator for the voices and experiences of learners, this piece delivers, offering “two innovative, inclusive, and effective approaches to increase student engagement” (p. 1565). And “innovative” is the key word I’d like to focus on: this is a great example of a riff on a critical article type for health professions education: the innovation report.

Health professions education practices and contexts are constantly changing, throwing out various challenges and innovation reports are great ways of capturing ways of addressing those challenges without taking the time and resources to mount a full research study. There have been a few articles (here, here, and here) written about innovation reports, and they generally agree on these features:

Cheema and colleagues’ report addresses each of these, albeit in innovative (see what I did there?!) ways. For instance, rather than starting with a “problem” (#1) they start with “opportunity” to involve medical students in developing new policies.They offer the theory of self-determination to guide their approach (#4), arguing for student involvement from the perspective of internal motivation. They offer concrete details about the innovation’s implementation (#5) and development (#6) and then also talk about what it might look like in other institutions (#11). And it ends by clearly situating their innovation as a potentially important influence on all medical students:

[I]t affords medical students an important opportunity to become thoughtful and creative leaders by providing them with insight and experience that they can apply immediately and carry forward. (p. 1570)

By using this format, they have created what I see as really critical knowledge for other medical educators about the nuts and bolts of engaging students in policy making–this is knowledge they could not have shared (or at least not yet) if they had had to design a full study holding up to the rigors of either qualitative or quantitative research.

But this is not the only path to publishing out there that doesn’t involve a full empirical study. In fact, I wanted to take this opportunity to announce a series of new article types in Teaching and Learning in Medicine (full disclosure–I’m on the board and just love this publication and its Editor-in-Chief, Anna Cianciolo). Among the new types are Learners’ Evaluation (a reflective analysis of an educational innovation from a learner’s point of view), State of the Art (reports on “collaborative brainstorms…among educational leaders and directors of research”), Traveling Concept (how educational approaches adapt [well or poorly!] to novel contexts), and even Creative Non-Fiction (maybe I should finally write part of my memoir: “Konopasky Kicking Some A**-sky: A Life”).

Lots of health professions education journals have non-empirical article types you could think about. Clinical Teacher has The Clinical Teacher’s Toolbox and Faculty Development Reviews (both “commissioned” articles–but all that means is that you reach out to the editor with a synopsis of your idea before you write it to see if they’re interested). Medical Teacher has Twelve Tips and New Wave. Medical Science Educator has Monographs and Health Science Case Studies (the latter “only…submitted after consultation with the Editor-In-Chief”). And Perspectives on Medical Education has Eye Openers and Health Care and the Arts (Note: I’m also on that board–I can’t resist a health professions education associate editor opportunity!!). This is just to name a very few options!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on either this content or these methods and if any of this has gotten you interested in starting a project, reach out for research support any time!

These reflections are based on a 2023 article from Medical Science Educator (can be requested through the library): Cheema A, Morris L, Suresh A, Carhart B, Thomson C, Synan L, Sorensen MJ, Chimienti SN. Educational Policy Development as a Leadership Experience: Inclusive Institutional Change. Medical Science Educator. 2023 Nov 28:1-6.

Other References

Blanchard RD, Nagler A, Artino Jr AR. Harvest the low-hanging fruit: strategies for submitting educational innovations for publication. Journal of Graduate Medical Education. 2015 Sep 1;7(3):318-22.

Blanco M, Prunuske J, DiCorcia M, Learman LA, Mutcheson B, Huang GC. The doctrine guidelines: Defined criteria to report innovations in Education. Academic Medicine. 2022 Apr 27;97(5):689-95.

Colbert-Getz JM, Bierer SB, Berry A, Bradley E, Han H, Mooney C, Szauter K, Teal CR, Youm J, O’Brien BC. What is an innovation article? A systematic overview of innovation in health professions education journals. Academic Medicine. 2021 Nov 1;96(11S):S39-47.