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Wong named assoc dean for medical education

by Cindy Abole
Public Relations
Educating and preparing well-trained physicians is an arduous task. 

Ask internist Jeffrey Wong, M.D., the College of Medicine’s new associate dean for medical education.

After a nationwide search, the Wisconsin native joined MUSC in July replacing retiring clinician and educator Victor Del Bene, M.D., within the College of Medicine.

Wong has built a career based on excellence in medical education by evaluating curriculum and outcomes and understanding educational research methods to improve the development of quality physicians. 

His expertise is especially welcome within colleges and institutions responsible for preparing and educating its physician graduates.

As the College of Medicine prepares to undergo reaccreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) in January, Wong’s guidance and expertise could not be better timed.

The LCME, sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Medical Association, is the recognized accrediting authority for the nation’s medical education programs and Canadian medical schools.

“Our goal is to create doctors who are well-trained and proficient in gathering new knowledge and skills that will help them deliver a high level of quality patient care throughout their careers,” Wong said. 

Previously working within the academic institutions of Yale, Wash-ington University in St. Louis, Stanford and Duke University medical schools  allowed Wong to carve a niche within academic medicine,  that addresses the needs of medical students and faculty by creating and maintaining new strategies to meet educational program objectives while complying with national standards. 

On an international level, he serves on a development team working to modernize medical education in Russia. 

His career success caught the eye of Department of Medicine chairman Jack Feussner, M.D., a former colleague while at Duke, who chaired the search committee for COM's associate dean for medical education vacancy.

“Dr. Wong’s presence at MUSC is much more than a twofer for the university and College of Medicine,” Feussner said. “Jeff comes to us with a strong, broad medical educational background and as a career educator—something that’s difficult to accomplish within today’s challenging era of medicine.”

Within today’s era of academic medicine, physician-educators wear many hats according to Wong. Not only are they teachers, they are clinicians and role models to hundreds involved in the preparation of physicians-in-training, he said.

“For me, it  is a wonderful opportunity that brings a lot of anticipation and expectation to the job because of its visibility and broad impact among a large number of learners,” Wong said. “It’s a big step.” 

Within a rapidly changing world, the ability to establish a standardized teaching curriculum for medical educators is a challenge shared by many across the country. Determining the body of knowledge that needs to be taught and how it is presented differs from medical school curriculum about 20 years ago. Teaching methods were conducted more out of tradition than solid, supportive evidence, according to Wong. 

Educators are challenged in distinguishing relevant information for today’s medical school curriculum. Programs are now teaching medical students critical-thinking and decision- making skills, self-evaluation strategies, and other tools to prepare them to become lifelong learners. 

Looking at the big picture, Wong hopes to establish new methods for measuring medical teaching through research and collaboration. 

“Within medical school, students need to possess the potential to practice medicine in any of the many different  medical specialties,” he said. “It's a very complex task."

In learning his new job as well as preparing for the college’s upcoming accreditation, Wong met with faculty, students, administration and staff to assess program objectives and future goals. 

He participated in reviewing the work of a self-study task force  that evaluated and documented study components from the college’s medical education database to program achievements, core clinical skills, admissions criteria, faculty and student needs, and educational resources as well as identified overall educational programmatic needs. The group summarized their findings in a final document submitted to LCME surveyors in October. 

Despite challenges caused by campus construction, the survey unveiled notable achievements verifying that  the school’s program is on the right track.

“MUSC is growing by leaps and bounds,” Wong said. “In some ways, our campus infrastructure has struggled to keep up. When you’re in that transition zone trying to catch up to expanding needs are, there are going to be challenges.”

“Dr. Wong is committed to medical education,” said Jerry Reves, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs. “He’s an international innovator and has designed new curricula and career teaching skills for the faculty.”

Meanwhile, Wong plans to continue strengthening student and faculty programs through research and cross-campus collaboration.

“We’re all working for the same thing—the best education of our students,” Wong said. “MUSC resources are ripe for the opportunity and success of collaboration. Creating joint ventures and partnerships are identified as practices that benefit all involved.”

Friday, Oct. 22, 2004
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