Meeting Reviews

Friday Session IV: Pediatric Anesthesiologists as Master Educators

Reviewed by Titilopemi A.O. Aina, MD, MPH, FAAP, FASA
Texas Children’s Hospital
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Aina

Dr. Aina

On Friday, February 26, 2021, Stephanie A. Black, MD, EdM - Associate Division Chief for Education and Program Development and Pediatric Anesthesiology Fellowship Director at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, gave a talk entitled "Pediatric Anesthesiologists as Master Educators."

During this presentation, Dr. Black stated that the master educator encompasses three distinct characteristics: he or she is curious, compassionate, and catalytic for change.

Regarding curiosity, master educators are students of the craft of learning, and of students. As students of the craft, educators seek to have an excellent clinical practice and pursue further training in teaching and education through either formal degree or certificate programs. As students of learning, these educators keep learning theories in mind when teaching. In adult learning theory (andragogy), the content should be practical, relevant, and contextualized. As students of students, they seek to learn about the students themselves to determine what the learner knows or does not know.

Next, she discussed the Dunning-Kruger Effect (Figure 1), a type of cognitive bias where trainees may believe they are smarter and more capable than they are. With this concept in mind, the master educator can assess and identify knowledge gaps and guide the learner up the slope of enlightenment. Initially, the learner does not know what they do not know, the educator can meet the learners where they are.

Fig 1

As a compassionate coach, the master educator can help the learner navigate the challenges of balancing stress and performance. The Yerkes-Dodson Law (Figure 2) describes the relationship between anxiety and performance. Peak performance is at low anxiety for demanding tasks. However, in anesthesiology, much of our work is in the high anxiety spectrum, and the tasks are difficult. To optimize learner performance, the master educator finds ways to lower the stress level for complex and difficult tasks.

Fig 2

Also, the educator should work to reframe anxiety as “activation” to enhance learner performance and engagement. The educator must also be able to have difficult conversations and give effective feedback. She discusses the several options for providing feedback (Figure 3).

Fig 3

The goal of feedback is to identify strengths that we want the learner to propagate and amplify instead of focusing on negative attributes. In giving feedback, she says to consider starting with - "What did you do the best today?"

Lastly, the master educator is a catalyst for culture change. The emphasis is placed on growth and improvement in the learner instead of solely focusing on performance. Learners are taught to appreciate the journey as a process of striving for excellence. We want to encourage a growth mindset, and seeing learning is an act of strength, not an admission of a deficit. Master educators should also guide the learner’s ability to identify patterns while balancing the ability to recognize patterns with self-awareness of unconscious biases.

Above all, educators must teach and lead with humility and authenticity. The most important legacy of Master Educators is to inspire, sponsor, challenge, and mentor the next generation.

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