Faculty Spotlight: Saumil Chudgar

Saumil ChudgarSaumil Chudgar, MD, is the focus of this week’s faculty spotlight. We talk to Dr. Chudgar about teaching new and established courses to medical students, the history and future of medical education, and enjoying the foodie and improv scenes of Durham and Chapel Hill.

How long have you been at Duke? How long have you been at the Division?
I came to Duke in 2001 for Medical School, stayed on for Internal Medicine residency in 2005, and joined the Division and Hospital Medicine Program in 2008.

What are your responsibilities within the Division? What does a typical day for you look like?
I divide my time equally between clinical work on the Duke General Medicine service and teaching/administration. I am the Associate Medical Director for Education in the Hospital Medicine Program. My major teaching roles include the Clerkship Director for the Internal Medicine Clerkship and the Course Director for the Clinical Skills Course for second-year medical students.

A typical nonclinical day usually involves an advising meeting with a student, a committee meeting (or three), informal “office hours” and lunch in my unofficial satellite office (the tables outside the little Nosh cafe in the Medical school), and a student lecture or small group teaching session. I usually try to take a quick walk around the wards to check in with my clerkship students, a practice one of my colleagues has designated as “rounding on the medical students.” I’ll spend some time answering emails and (less often than I would like) revising or working on a manuscript.

You’ve been the recipient of numerous awards for your work teaching medical students. What goes into keeping your students engaged and enthusiastic despite their demanding schedules, diverse interests, and lack of sleep?
It is truly humbling to be recognized by the students and privilege to teach them how to take outstanding care of patients. I think passion and excitement play a significant role in keeping students engaged. I love what I do, and I can’t imagine a more exciting job! One of my goals is to get to know my students personally and interact with them in a way that emphasizes approachability and a supportive learning environment. I am a little biased in that I think Internal Medicine is is applicable to all specialties, and I try to help students see the relevance of what they are learning to their intended careers. It has been amazing to learn from some many outstanding teachers in my time at Duke, and I can take ideas from each of them to fit what I want to convey to my students.

Your Scholars@Duke page lists eight courses that you have taught recently. Do you have a favorite subject area or course that you enjoy teaching the most?
My passion is teaching and assessing clinical skills with the students. I have been lucky to work with many of the talented faculty in the School of Medicine to develop the Clinical Skills Course, a new course designed to prepare students for the wards and solidify core clinical concepts. It meets for a three-week full-time intensive immediately prior to the students starting on their core clinical rotations. During this time, they are eager, excited to learn, and admittedly a little (or a lot) anxious about their new clinical roles. I see this opportunity as a time to give them core knowledge and skills and also help to quell their fears of the unknown. We cover lecture-based, small-group, and a large number of hands-on application activities to keep them engaged. The course also meets longitudinally in small groups through the entire year, and I enjoy seeing their progress through the year.

How has medical education changed since you went through medical school? What changes do you see coming in the way medical students and residents are taught over the next 10 years?

I have noticed immense changes in the ~10 years since I finished medical school. Duty hours have dramatically shaped the culture of residency training with a growing body of literature and evidence on the importance of transitions of care. The emphasis on patient safety and quality improvement has really increased, and we are teaching it earlier in medical school and during residency. The most recent change to GME with milestones and entrustable professional activities has increased emphasis on observation and documentation of trainee performance. The last 2-3 years have seen an emphasis on high value, cost conscious care, and again this is becoming increasingly emphasized in GME and even on the medical student side. Medical schools are emphasizing continued training in working in interprofessional teams and leadership.

The next 10 years are likely to continue to emphasize accountability for education and increasing evidence of entrustment; this is moving into the Medical School side with the AAMC recently publishing an expected list of activities a student should be able to do before starting internship. Reforms in the medical school training model including the “flipped classroom” where students come to class having streamed lectures and done prereadings and then focus on application exercises during in person sessions are likely to continue. I am excited to see the growth in technology and simulation that are no doubt going to be an essential part of training moving forward. It is certainly an exciting time!

Have you recently read any articles, books, blog posts or other material that would be of interest to the Division?
I recently went to the Internal Medicine Clerkship Directors meeting and attended an interesting session on Social Media in Medical Education. Excited to see the use of Twitter and other media in education.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside the Division?
I enjoy working out at the gym and making it for it by sampling the amazing food scene in Durham with friends. Outdoor activities including hiking and running are a lot of fun, and we are lucky to have so many great trails right here in Durham. My most recent hobby has been taking a series of Improv Comedy classes at DSI Comedy Theater in Chapel Hill. It is a blast, and I have loved it – so far outside my comfort zone and against my Type A personality! We had our first group show this week, and I am hooked. I’ve signed up for the next course and plan to continue as long as they’ll have me.