Reflections from the Liminal Space: The challenges of being a Clinician Educator 2.0

(This is part of a continuing series on liminality – the concept of threshold, transition or rite of passage.  For previous posts see here, here and here.

-Jonathan (@sherbino))


By Teresa Chan (@TChanMD)

During the ICE Summit: Toronto, I had a chance to sit with some of my #MedEd heroes and discuss issues as a peer (a much more junior peer).  The experience revealed to me that the Clinician Educator (CE) path has evolved for the second generation of CEs, when compared to my predecessors.

This concept came to light during a discussion with ‘provocateur’ Glen Bandiera (@glenbandiera) – and legend in my mind.  He ran a session entitled: “Academic Medicine, nice job if you can’t get it.”

You see, Glen has been one of my beacons of success in medical education – one part superstar emergency physician, one part educator, one part clinical leader, all around great mentor. As a medical student, I remember my one-on-one interview with him during my residency interviews. I thought, “Wow. I’m sitting with Glen Bandiera – he’s done such great things in medical education… Some day I want to be just like him.”

And yet, a few weeks ago at the ICE Summit, I realized that the path I’m walking as a junior CE is different than Glen’s.  And for good reason: He and others like him (i.e. Jason Frank (@drjfrank) and Jonathan Sherbino) have paved the way through the academic mine field, so that I might have a different journey.

One of the key differences, of course, is CEs before me have helped to define the field.  Position papers, such as the CAME position statement on educational scholarship (and the subsequent ones by the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians [here, here, and here]) articulate a developing field and create a common language for CEs.

The standard has also largely changed with regards to timing of advanced training in medical education.  Unlike the previous generation of CEs, who bootstrapped education skills and juggled education training with busy clinical practices, I meaningfully chose to start my graduate studies while a resident, with a clear, efficient approach.

Finally, the path outlined by my predecessors have made it easier for me to point at them and say, “I’ll do what she’s doing.” I’m not bursting through barriers or trying to cobble together funding packages. The hard work done by CEs has created an environment at my institution,  where I do not have to explain or defend my identity as a junior Clinician Educator. I just have to perform comparably and on par with those who have come before me.

However, the issue of standards is complex.  As I continue my journey through this liminal space I am wary that though my job is easier for the reasons above, the bar has been set higher by my mentors and heroes. And as such, I attempt to do my best, defining what it means to be a CE 2.0.

ICE Summit attendees, presenters and planners.
ICE Summit attendees, presenters and planners.