Graduate Medical Education Team Awarded $25,000 by the American Medical Association’s Innovation Grant

Thomas Kelly
Thomas Kelly
Grant to help fund their proposal fostering an environment of adaptive learning and quality improvement

An interdisciplinary Graduate Medical Education (GME) team — Pooja Rangan, MBBS, MPH, Data and Research Outcomes director for GME, Jennifer Preston, MD, program director for the Integrated Surgical Residency Brian MacArthur, MD, program director for the Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency, and Cheryl O’Malley, MD, vice dean of GME — at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix was selected for the American Medical Association’s $25,000 Innovation Grant.

Cheryl O’Malley, MD, and Jennifer Preston, MD
Cheryl O’Malley, MD, and Jennifer Preston, MD
The reward was in recognition of their project, GME Programs as Master Adaptive Learners: Using Artificial Intelligence Enabled Precision Education and GME Program Milestones to Power Improvement of GME Programs.

Dr. O’Malley expressed enthusiasm about their selection, as well as about the hopes they have for the framework they have laid out. “For years, medical education has been moving toward competency-based medical education, which focuses on outcomes rather than simply process. We are excited to develop a shared mental model of outcomes for GME programs across specialties and to use AI to display results and connect with resources.” she said.

That framework is one built on the idea of master adaptive learners (MALs). MAL is a model for lifelong learning that emphasizes self-direction and self-regulation in a changing environment. Measuring the success of how a learner adapts is generally done with the creation of various milestones. But Dr. O’Malley and her team want to take that a step further.

They want each individual GME program to also be a MAL. To date, no markers exist to quantitatively assess how a program adapts to what is and what is not working. “They have only been developed for learners, but no sponsoring institutions have defined program competencies and integrated them into program and institutional evaluation,” Dr. O’Malley explained. “We aim to fill that gap by applying MAL principles, the milestones framework and outcome dashboards at the GME program level for continuous quality improvement (CQI).

A team of institutional educational leaders defined six core competencies that apply across all program specialties — faculty teaching, feedback and assessment, patient safety and quality improvement, equity, diversity and inclusion, well-being, and scholarly activity. Within each of those six, there are three sub-competencies that will be tracked, as well.

“So far, we have defined the initial versions of the GME program milestones, mapped existing evaluation tools to the relevant sub-competencies and integrated assessment in each area with the annual program evaluation process,” noted Dr. O’Malley.

Pooja Rangan, MBBS, MPH, and Brian MacArthur, MD
Pooja Rangan, MBBS, MPH, and Brian MacArthur, MD
In addition, the team is developing AI-driven interactive Power business improvement dashboards to provide leaders with timely, consistent and actionable information to guide program adaptation. “The dashboards allow for efficient integration of diverse data sources and the connection of the areas that programs are working on with best practices at the local and national level,” Dr. O’Malley said.

She added, “The GME program milestones that we have defined have only been created and vetted by our institution. We envision that this framework can be vetted and adopted nationally to further realize the potential."

As part of their selection, the team was invited to join the AMA ChangeMedEd Consortium. The consortium is committed to developing, implementing and disseminating bold, innovative projects that promote systemic change to better train future physicians. They will join a host of other medical schools with projects focusing on the application of precision education across the medical education continuum, from medical school and residency to continuing medical education.

This is the second time the College of Medicine – Phoenix has received this grant from the AMA. In 2021, the college was recognized for its project Personal Best: A Program to Enhance Emotional Intelligence and Coaching Skills in Graduate Medical Education. This second award further establishes the college’s national reputation for creative approaches to medical education.

About the College

Founded in 2007, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. By cultivating collaborative research locally and globally, the college accelerates discovery in a number of critical areas — including cancer, stroke, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular disease. Championed as a student-centric campus, the college has graduated more than 800 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,700 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Bioscience Core, which is projected to have an economic impact of $3.1 billion by 2025, the college prides itself on engaging with the community, fostering education, inclusion, access and advocacy.