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Ted James on Being a Macy Faculty Scholar

New York, NY

Ted James, MD, Professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, is part of Macy’s 2012 Scholar Class. As a Macy Faculty Scholar, James developed an interprofessional quality improvement and safety curriculum. We sat down with Dr. James to hear more about his time as a Macy Faculty Scholar.

What has being a Macy Faculty Scholar meant to you?
The Macy program has been a wonderful opportunity for me to really expand my professional involvement in education and organizational redesign of the health care system. Through Macy, I received excellent support and guidance from faculty mentors and met a rich network of colleagues. We often exchanged ideas and challenged each other, and they helped me move forward with my research. The Macy Faculty Scholar program spurred many career milestones for me, but more importantly it showed me the very direct and relevant connections between education and the clinical environment.

What’s next for your project?
It’s quite interesting. There have been a few developments recently. We are in the midst of publishing a paper based on our experiences with enhancing teamwork and collaboration through interprofessional education in our oncology services at the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMC). We’ve had a program using simulation where we’ve trained nurses in the UVMC oncology unit along with the hematology fellows on effective communication and teamwork. That involves everything from managing cancer patients who are going through acute crises, to disclosing a diagnosis of cancer, to end-of-life care by using competencies of collaborative practice that improve outcomes.

The interprofessional oncology group that I formed at the University of Vermont was also recently invited to partner with the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Cancer Institute on an initiative to explore, promote and advance team-based cancer care across the nation. We will be working with them on a series of white papers and guidelines for improving collaborative practice and teamwork in oncology nationally.

What advice do you have for educational innovators today?
When I started as a Macy Faculty Scholar, one of the most important lessons I learned was to narrow my focus so I could make more of an impact. A lot of times in education there are so many directions you can go, and it’s easy to hover superficially on different projects. But in order to make an impact you really need to have a laser pinpoint focus on an area that’s significant to you. For me, that required finding a single common thread that united my various interests as an educator, oncologist, and researcher. Looking at interprofessional education and how that directly impacts cancer care from an evidence-based perspective was my common thread – and it allowed me to go deeper and make an impact on the things that I am passionate about.

Future Macy Faculty Scholars should really rely on the network of scholars that surround them. They’re an incredible group of talented, innovative individuals. I count myself very lucky to be among them.

Learn more about Dr. James’ work at the University of Vermont.

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