At an event next month, Donald Brown, MD, will receive a 2023 Collegiate Teaching Award. Sponsored by the Office of Faculty Affairs and Development, this award acknowledges faculty who “demonstrate unusually significant and meritorious achievement” as instructors in an academic year.
Brown was nominated by Isabella Grumbach, MD, PhD, Interim Chair & DEO, and Manish Suneja, MD, Vice Chair for Education. Grumbach and Suneja compiled a packet of information including letters of recommendation from former trainees and colleagues and quantitative data including student evaluations. They prefaced this packet with a letter of their own outlining Brown’s consistent excellence as a physician-educator across his fifty-year career.
An important aspect of Brown’s relationship to education that Grumbach and Suneja point out is his belief that like any science, pedagogy and teaching are skills “that can be studied, understood, and perfected.” They pointed out that Brown made de-mystifying teaching medicine as much of a goal as medicine itself, a set of processes to be understood, based in evidence. “Learning,” Brown wrote, “is best defined as a change in behavior as a result of an experience” and that change can be produced as long as the teacher understands the desired change sought “in clear, measurable terms.”
And Brown’s methodical approach produces an impact on students that lasts years past graduation. One recent student, M4 Stephanie Saey, wrote, “Dr. Brown has an incredible talent for correlating the physical exam with pathophysiology and even moreso for explaining these relationships.”
Cardiology fellows also wrote in to support Brown for the Collegiate Teaching Award. First-year fellow Christian Anderson, MD, PhD, explained that fellowship begins with Brown’s introductory ECG course. “His passion and excitement for electrocardiography,” Anderson wrote, “helped us feel our first true connection to the field of Cardiology. The teaching, enthusiasm, and support he gave us allowed us to tackle our first call shifts with confidence.”
“I can easily say,” Cardiovascular Medicine Division Director Barry London, MD, PhD, wrote, “that Don is as dedicated to the education and training of medical students, residents, and fellows as anyone with whom I have worked during my 30-year career as an academic faculty.” He went on to detail the many courses that Brown leads, the many students he mentors, and the many, many hours he spends doing all of this, “showing a level of commitment rarely seen.”
Grumbach and Suneja finished their letter by noting how many former students and trainees “still use the skills Don Brown taught them. When one imagines the number of students they have passed the skills on to over the years, it becomes impossible to calculate the impact of Dr. Brown’s true impact on medicine.”