UNC Department of Medicine faculty love to teach and the opportunity to participate in education is one of the major reasons they choose an academic career at UNC’s School of Medicine. Dr. Amy Shaheen, Medicine Professor for the Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, is one of those clinician teachers, committed to training the next generation. Her contributions to educational research were celebrated in Baltimore, MD, where she received the Charles H. Griffith, III MD, Educational Research Award during the CDIM National Meeting, held in conjunction with Academic Internal Medicine Week.
“Dr. Shaheen stands out as a great clinician educator; a sought out teacher and leader for students and residents,” said Dr. Darren DeWalt, Department of Medicine Chief of the Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology. “While passionately caring for patients and inspiring her students, she's expanded her influence into curricular innovation and research. “The really cool part is that she is simultaneously building capacity of students and faculty to improve quality of care across dozens of practices.”
While Dr. Shaheen’s clinical expertise is general medicine and quality improvement in the care of people with acute and chronic illness, her research combines what she describes as her two loves, caring for patients and teaching students. The CDIM award recognizes her work with physicians across the state, to teach students quality improvement while improving patients care, something that has only been emphasized on a small scale up until now.
“What makes our current research interesting is that we are trying to learn whether we can train students and community doctors simultaneously, and improve patient outcomes,” said Dr. Shaheen. “We have received tremendous support from the UNC Physician’s Network, the PCIC group and the IHQI to teach students. Plus, we have a grant from AHEC to train community teachers in quality improvement methods so that they can more effectively mentor their learners.”
Dr. Shaheen shines in both teaching and patient care. One-third of her time is spent in clinic and another third co-leading a new longitudinal course that combines internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics in the community. In between she’s meeting with students, working on curriculum with creative colleagues and seeing her patients.
“As all of my patients know, I always have a student with me,” said Shaheen. “I love watching a student grow and become comfortable and confident with their decisions. I try to teach that none of us can know it all but we should all know how to find answers. And, it is our obligation as the patient’s doctor to help them find answers.”
Dr. Shaheen says what she most enjoys is being able to learn from her students. Introducing something new and responding to questions offers the chance to consolidate and synthesize new information. Great physician teachers are positive, continually learning and genuinely caring, with an almost sacred obligation to their patients. This is Dr. Amy Shaheen.
“I most want my students to learn to love their patients, just like their own family. I believe that even the most difficult patients deserve a consistent and dedicated physician.”