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A Day in the Life of A CE: Jonathan Sherbino 

By Jamiu Busari (@jobusar)

Jonathan Sherbino (@sherbino)
Founding Editor, ICE blog
Co-Host, KeyLIME Podcast
Chair, Emergency Medicine Specialty Committee, Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons
Co-chair, Clinician Educator Area of Focused Competence (Diploma), Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons
Co-chair, International Conference on Residency Education.
Associate Professor, McMaster University
Hamilton, Canada

What is your clinical/educational background?

Jonathan Sherbino, MD, MEd, FRCPC, FAcadMEd, completed his undergraduate medical training at the University of Ottawa in 2000 and graduated a year later following the completion of a Canadian international health fellowship that included work in Africa, India and Nepal.  In 2006, Jonathan finished his specialist training in emergency medicine at the University of Toronto. In the same period, he completed a graduate degree health professions education also from the UofT. In 2009, Jonathan was enrolled as a fellow of the Academy of Medical Educators in the UK.

Jonathan is the chief editor of the ICE blog (conflict of interest alert!). Currently, he works full time as an emergency physician and trauma team leader in an inner city teaching hospital in Hamilton, Canada.  In addition to his academic roles (listed above), Jonathan is an adjunct scientist in the Program for Educational Research and Development, McMaster University, and an editorial member of the Academic Emergency Medicine: Education and Training journal.

Vision for the ICE blog:

Asked about his vision and philosophy as editor-in-chief of the ICE blog, Jonathan responds saying “I want to share the important, but tacit, knowledge from the grey literature to the emerging community of Clinician Educators all over the world. By tacit and grey, I mean the content that is so important for us to be successful as CEs, but may not be formalized, recorded or discussed in regular forums, such as journals, conference proceedings, or at conferences. I want the conversation to be truly international and its scope to reach all elements that inform academic practice”.

What percentage of your time is spent in clinical practice, teaching activities, educational research and administrative work?

When asked about how he divides his time among the various tasks and responsibilities he has, Jonathan responded by saying that 50% of his time is devoted to clinical work, 25% to educational scholarship, 15% to teaching tasks and the remaining 10% distributed over his administrative responsibilities

How do you enjoy your diverse (portfolio) career?

Jonathan explains that he particularly enjoys the non-clinical aspects of his professional life that fall into the category of medical education. He elaborates saying, “I feel that I have an opportunity to be a small contributor to a really important movement, which is training the next generation of physicians.” With competency-based education becoming a momentous driver for change in medical education, he thinks that the profession is at a critical time when we must choose to enter the conversation rather than ignore it. Elaborating on what he means, Jonathan says, “I believe that if we engage in this process, we would be able to influence the development of the next generation of physicians by improving the experience of learning and (at the same time) maintain our own clinical competencies in the process.” He continues by adding “the reason I still remain an active clinician is because I got into the profession to care for patients. That was my first love and remains so.  I find it important not to divorce medical education from the clinical practice of medicine. Unlike law (or nursing), most of the professors and teachers in medicine are still in practice and understand the challenges of contemporary clinical practice.”

Jonathan argues that it is important that we acknowledge this point because he believes it is a strength, and not a weakness. We must not separate the realities of teaching from practice. Jonathan jokingly adds that as a CE, it is great to take a break from long hours of staring at the computer and reading articles, to engage in clinical work. Sometimes it is wonderful to “check out” of the chaos of clinical work to do some research (he smiles).

Do you have any difficulty in having this diverse work, and if yes, how do you manage it?

Jonathan acknowledged that he faces several challenges in his current role as a CE. Asked if there was anything he could do to change the situation, he responds by saying that he wished his university could provide him with a project manager or a logistics team to support him. He explains by saying that he thinks that he has a lot of content expertise and ideas to share, but what slows him down is the logistics and operational management in realizing most of them.  A second thing he suggests is having a “licence” to take an annual pause of at least 4-6 weeks to organize his thoughts and review (ongoing) educational projects.  “Being able to step out of your normal work and reflect on your activities enables you to reorganize your ideas and see things from a different perspective. You do not have that ‘tyranny of the urgent’ lurking around. This opens up the possibility of creativity and allows you to see the bigger issues that you normally would miss when handling all the smaller crises you are faced with on a day to day basis.

Finally, when asked how he copes with all of these challenges, he responds that he does this by managing his own schedule. “It is little less efficient” he admits “but pays dividends in the long run”.  He also tries to avoid committee work where the mandate or the leadership of the committee is not clearly defined.

Three tips for an aspiring CE

Asked which 3 tips he would like to offer junior CEs, Jonathan responds with the following:

  1. Read broadly within and outside of medical education. Engage in learning from other domains such as psychology, business management, sociology, leadership.
  2. Get yourself not just a mentor but a “board of directors” to support you. You would be needing a whole slew of different personalities to provide you with diverse insights and perspectives on the various challenges you encounter during your personal and professional development
  3. Sleep more! Sleeping better and being well-rested improves creativity and productivity.

 Final note

On a final note, Jonathan wraps up by saying that he (as the blog’s EiC) is really pleased that over the last 3 years, the blog has grown to reach a wide international audience.  He adds that the idea of a “Clinician Educator” as an outlier has gradually turned into a mainstream phenomenon in many institutions and organizations he has visited. Apparently, the term “Clinician Educator” is not as foreign as it once was.

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