Gehlbach wins Collegiate Teaching Award

Potpourri is usually a mixture of dried fruits and plants placed in a bowl to create a natural fragrance, but in Internal Medicine, Potpourri is the name of a pulmonary conference that addresses a diverse set of patient issues and unique diagnostic techniques. This conference challenges trainees to tackle unique medical cases, but it is not the only way Brian Gehlbach, MD, clinical professor in Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine, has raised excitement and passion in his students.

In recognition of his talents for and commitment to education, Gehlbach received one of the two Carver College of Medicine Collegiate Teaching Awards this year. Sponsored by the Office of Faculty Affairs and Development, the award recognizes faculty members committed to the training and career development of the next generation of physicians. Madeline Shea, PhD, professor of Biochemistry and of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics received the other. Both will be recognized at the Carver College of Medicine Faculty Awards Banquet on March 4.

“I believe strongly in aspirational leadership, and try to model the attitudes and behaviors I wish to see in my learners,” Gehlbach said in his Teaching Philosophy statement. “When caring for patients I work hard to encourage curiosity and to model humanistic behaviors at the bedside, while taking time periodically on rounds to review our collective performance as a team. One of my mantras is that ‘in the ICU, everyone lifts’: that we all have something to teach each other, and that we all have opportunities to help each other and to be helped.”

Since joining the University of Iowa in 2011, Gehlbach has been admired by his peers and students for his enthusiasm and skill in the classroom and in his practice. Among his recommenders this year, a mix of colleagues and former students, Gehlbach was nominated by Joseph Zabner, MD, his division director. In Zabner’s letter, he cited Gehlbach’s devotion to helping his “mentees develop new skills” and his demeanor, which “is not intimidating and . . . has led to many residents and fellows who were afraid of science to give it a try.”

In 2018, Gehlbach received the Outstanding Faculty Teacher award from the Pulmonary and Critical Care fellows. In the last few years, residents and students as well have given Gehlbach higher than average ratings in their evaluations. Gehlbach even receives perfect scores from his students in the “interest in teaching,” “respect for students,” and “overall teaching effectiveness” categories. The fellows, residents, and students who work closely with him provided these statements in their evaluations:

  • Great to work with, teaches effectively, appropriate autonomy to senior residents, always took time to teach didactics as well. Took time to teach in patient rooms and always made sure to communicate well with families what he was doing.”
  • “Phenomenal mentor. Efficient rounds, but full autonomy granted to medical students when presenting patients and developing plans. Specifically makes a point to ensure medical students feel a part of the team. He sets expectations well for the entire team when beginning his time on service. Dr. Gehlbach dedicates time to small group learning sessions geared toward ICU specific topics.”
  • “Actively teaches on bedside rounds—when appropriate based on patient volume. Takes time to come back in the afternoon and give directed lectures regarding ICU and pulmonary medicine—I cannot emphasize how important this is, as the MICU curriculum needs more directed learning. One of the best clinical teachers I have ever met, without a doubt.”
  • “Clearly placed an emphasis on learning and teaching. I appreciated the time he took in the mornings for teaching—it seemed a good balance between getting us through rounds and also some academic activity. He was also very engaged with the teaching process and very reflective on his own teaching practices. He made it a great learning experience.”

“Trainees cite him as a role model and mentor, particularly when it comes to career guidance,” wrote E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, Internal Medicine Chair and DEO, and Manish Suneja, MD, FASN, FACP, in their nomination letter. “Whether it is helping a student prepare a manuscript for publication, reviewing notes and slides for a presentation, or even just helping a student sort out career options, Dr. Gehlbach has guided many students through challenging periods in their lives.”

Congratulations, Dr. Gehlbach, and thank you for the mentorship you provide for all the residents, fellows, and students fortunate enough to work with you!

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