Brand Your Residency

Residency programs are products. These products can be experienced in a variety of ways by consumers that include current residents, program alumni, prospective students, faculty members, patients, and many others. How can program directors use branding principles to improve communication with such different cohorts of consumers?

I just returned from the 2019 Academic Assembly of the Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine, where I gave presentations on a range of topics… Mastermind GroupsInterdependence… Presentation Skills… Digital Scholarship… but my favorite lecture topic by far was: Branding.

Jeremy Branzetti and I have been lecturing on the topic of branding for residency programs and hospitals for many years. We argue that an understanding of basic branding principles can prove highly valuable to program directors or administrators who struggle to reach their target consumers of students, alumni, faculty members, and others.

In his 2008 book, Jean-Noël Kapferer describes a brand as a “set of signs certifying the origin of a product or service and differentiating it from the competition”. Program directors know the origin stories of their programs and they can best describe the curricular features that set their programs apart from others in the educational marketplace. But how can program directors be sure that the right students are hearing these messages?  

The first step is to understand some key branding concepts:

·         Brand Identity: What are the mission, vision, and values that guide your program?

·         Brand Image: What do your consumers think about your program?

·         Brand Experience: How do your consumers experience your program?

·         Brand Alignment: Alignment reflects your efforts to equate brand identity and brand image.

·         Brand Audit: The process of examining and refining each of the elements of your brand.

Read more about branding principles and how they relate to residency recruitment in our article, “Branding and Recruitment: A Primer for Residency Program Leadership” in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education.

Co-Authors: Eric Shappell, MD, MHPE – Harvard University, Nahzinine Shakeri, MD – Northwestern University, Abra Fant, MD, MS – Northwestern University, Jeremy Branzetti, MD - New York University, Christine Babcock, MD, MSc – University of Chicago, James Ahn, MD, MHPE – University of Chicago

April 7, 2019

Aiming Beyond Competent

One of the most exciting recent advancements in physician training was the introduction of CBME: competency-based medical education. But is it enough? How might medical educators build on the best of CBME… and help their students aim beyond competent?

Competency-Based Medical Education (CBME) is a widely-accepted framework for training physicians that relies on measurable outcomes for confirmation of learning. In CBME, learning outcomes are clearly defined and students are expected to demonstrate competency by achieving these desired outcomes.

For a student to be competent in a particular skill, they must be able to demonstrate all of the necessary components of that skill. Let’s consider laceration repair: to be competent, learners must demonstrate proper wound cleaning, the technical skills necessary to repair the wound, recognition of potential complications, pertinent physician-patient communication about wound care, and documentation of the encounter, among many other steps.

But is this the best way to measure the competence of a physician? Or does CBME suffer from reductionism, the loss of the very nature of being a physician by reducing the practice of medicine into discrete measurable parts?

Jeremy Branzetti, Laura Hopson, Linda Regan, and I suggest that CBME might be strengthened by the use of a complementary curriculum design framework, L. Dee Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning. We argue that educators might ensure a more holistic assessment of their students by using Fink’s Taxonomy when designing CBME curricula.

Read about this curriculum design proposal in our article, “Aiming Beyond Competent: The Application of the Taxonomy of Significant Learning in Medical Education” in Teaching and Learning in Medicine.

Co-Authors: Jeremy Branzetti, MD - New York University, Laura R. Hopson, MD - University of Michigan, Linda Regan, MD - Johns Hopkins University

March 11, 2019

Medical Students’ Guide to ALiEM EM Match Advice

One of my favorite projects is ALiEM EM Match Advice, a web series designed to advise senior medical students as they navigate their search for an emergency medicine residency program—hosted online by Academic Life in Emergency Medicine.

ALiEM EM Match Advice is a web series that features panels of residency program directors discussing various topics of interest to senior medical students who are participating in the National Residency Matching Program for emergency medicine. I co-host the series with Dr. Michelle Lin, Professor of Emergency Medicine at UCSF and Editor-in-Chief of Academic Life in Emergency Medicine.

EM Match Advice launched in August 2014 and we quickly recorded enough episodes that we needed to provide medical students with a viewing guide: “The Users’ Guide to ALiEM EM Match Advice”, published in Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. The article provides 12 episode summaries and a recommending viewing timeline.

Each episode of EM Match Advice ends with the guest residency directors answering the question, “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know About Your Residency Program!”, free ‘commercials’ for the programs featured on the show.

Students, check out the Users’ Guide to EM Match Advice and the dozens of episodes that we have recorded on ALiEM.

Co-Authors: Abra Fant, MD, MS - Northwestern University, Nahzinine Shakeri, MD, MS - Northwestern University, Benjamin H. Schnapp, MD, MEd - University of Wisconsin, Michelle Lin, MD - University of California San Francisco

March 11, 2019