News and Commentary Memoona Hasnain on Being a Macy Faculty Scholar

Memoona Hasnain, MD, MHPE, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine is part of Macy’s 2013 Scholar Class. As a Macy Faculty Scholar, Hasnain developed an interprofessional program that places students in community settings to help them better understand and address the health needs of underserved populations. We sat down with Dr. Hasnain to hear about her time as a Macy Faculty Scholar.

What has being a Macy Faculty Scholar meant to you?
Being a Macy Faculty Scholar has meant several things for me. First and foremost, the Macy program validated the body of work in health professions education that I have been building over the past decade to transform medical education and train health professions students in approaching healthcare delivery through the lens of patient-centeredness, humanism and empathy. Today, we see a lot of resources and scholarships available for clinical research, but not as much for educational innovation. This scholarship came at a crucial point in my career: it gave me protected time to pursue my work in addressing health disparities by developing an interprofessional education project, along with the national exposure I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

The Macy Faculty Scholars program also helped me connect with a new family – Macy staff, faculty, the advisory council, national mentors, and most of all, the scholars themselves. My cohort has a very special bond. We support each other at a very personal level and we understand each other. We are now working together and helping each other think outside the box. My cohort along with the extended Macy Scholars group is a true support network.

What do you know now as an educator that you didn’t before?
As you go through your professional journey, you’re constantly refining your focus and direction. These past two years made me reflect and be reminded about my real passion of addressing social determinants of health, embedding humanism and empathy as core values in training of health professions and “building people.” By that, I mean advising, mentoring and helping others pursue their own passions to be leaders, scholars and change agents.

Working with my cohort and Macy mentors reminded me that you can’t do it all and that you can’t take reform on alone. It showed me how important it is to connect with people and work with others who have a similar mission.

What’s next for your project?
The next steps are to carefully evaluate the program and think about how team-based training can be a core element of the overall curriculum and not merely siloed, elective offerings. In that regard, I’ll be working with leadership at UIC to make this happen. I am working with my colleagues to expand the program’s five concentrations, which currently include domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, geriatrics, homelessness and immigrant & refugee health. We were recently awarded a HRSA grant to grow our geriatrics program. This is a collaborative project between several UIC health professions schools and community partners to improve care for older adults, which is a key national priority.

I will also continue to work with colleagues at national and global levels to advance the work needed to bridge the gap between interprofessional education and practice to optimize collaborative care.

What advice do you have for other educational innovators?

Above all, believe in yourself. Educational reform is tough work and change is not easy. It takes time so don’t get discouraged. Also, find a focus early on, something you are passionate about. Start small, build alliances, reach out to colleagues, work on one piece at a time, and persevere.

Last but not least, do everything with love, joy, gratitude, balance and mindfulness. Don’t forget about your family and yourself.

Learn more about Dr. Hasnain’s work at the University of Illinois.

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