VTC School of Medicine Receives Prestigious Award to Support Innovation

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has been awarded the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Stemmler Fund for 2023-24 to support its innovative approaches to medical student assessment. The Stemmler Fund, which was established in 1995, is one of the most prestigious student assessment awards in medical education.

“We are deeply honored our proposal was selected by members of the Stemmler Fund and we are appreciative of the NBME for creating this opportunity and for their commitment to supporting innovation in medical student assessment,” said principal investigator Brock Mutcheson, assistant dean of assessment and program evaluation and assistant professor of health systems and implementation science. “This is a competitive grant program that supports high quality assessment projects. Only three projects were funded in the country last year. We are thrilled for the potential of our project to contribute to innovation and quality in medical student assessment.”

Through the Stemmler Fund, NBME provides grants to researchers working to advance assessment at any point along the continuum of medical education, from medical school and residency training through clinical practice. Recent projects have focused on topics such as competency-based assessment and education, teamwork in health care, patient-related outcomes of training, and many other important areas.

Developing health system citizens

The medical school’s project is focused on developing health system citizens — physicians attuned to systems complexities impacting patient health, who operate effectively and collaboratively in a team, and who strive for continuous improvement of the system. The project, which received $150,000 of funding over two years, will apply a modern measurement paradigm to develop instruments that more precisely measure and evaluate students’ clinical abilities as health system citizens.

“Being selected for the NBME Stemmler grant is an important milestone for our school and our strategic vision to be a destination for innovation in medical student teaching, learning, and assessment,” said Lee Learman, dean of the school. “The focus of this project will be assessing how students apply health systems science principles and practices so we can track their progress in becoming physicians who proactively identify ways to improve the systems in which they work to create better patient outcomes.”

The project team includes: Mutcheson, Jed Gonzalo, senior associate dean for medical education and professor of internal medicine; David Musick, senior dean of faculty affairs and professor of internal medicine; Sarah Parker, chair and associate professor of health systems and implementation science; Natalie Karp, co-leader of health systems science and interprofessional practice and assistant professor of ON-GYN; Heidi Lane, assistant dean of clinical skills assessment and education associate professor of health systems and implementation science; Jake Grohs, Virginia Tech associate professor of engineering; and Andrew Katz, Virginia Tech assistant professor of engineering.

“We would not be in a position to receive this prestigious grant without our amazing faculty and their day-to-day support of the medical education mission,” Gonzalo said. “Our leadership and our faculty are showing that the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is a place for innovation and scholarship.”

Advancing student assessment

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM) has increased its emphasis on Competency-Based Medical Education — specifically health systems citizenship and systems thinking — and has continued efforts toward increasing validity, reliability and equity in student assessment. Mutcheson oversees the development of the school’s assessment and program evaluation initiatives and advises curriculum leaders on assessment methodologies. He works with stakeholders across the institution to support data-driven decision-making and contribute to educational scholarship endeavors.

“I have so much gratitude for the contributions of so many VTCSOM leaders and faculty who have worked very hard to put us in this position to innovate in assessment,” Mutcheson said. “and I am looking forward to being a part of this talented and experienced team.”

The Edward J. Stemmler, MD, Medical Education Research Fund supports innovation in medical education assessment and provides support for research and development in innovative assessment methodologies or techniques, with the potential to advance assessment in medical education or practice. The National Board of Medical Examiners administers the award. To learn more about the Stemmler Fund, visit: https://contributions.nbme.org/about/stemmler-fund.

– Josh Meyer

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