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HPEER TIG Week: Strategies for getting started with evaluation in HPE by Donna Lancianese

Hello, I am Donna Lancianese from the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine. I’d like to share a bit of my introduction into Health Professions Education Evaluation and Research (HPEER) and how an outsider to both health professions and evaluation can get up to speed quickly.

Rad Resources: My formal training was in Sociology, specifically social psychology, gender, and research methods, most of which was a theoretical endeavor. As I started in the field of evaluation with no experience in 2016, the first thing I had to do was to learn the language. I took an e-course from the AEA on the basics of monitoring and evaluation. This 3-day course taught me the language and I was able to link the terminology to the research I had been doing for years. I furthered my training by attending the Minnesota Evaluation Study Institute’s Spring Training. These two provided a foundation to develop my evaluation knowledge base.

Lessons Learned: I just finished my first year as a program evaluator and research consultant for the College of Medicine, and boy did I learn a lot. I was hired during the college’s accreditation process and I knew next to nothing about medical education, nor evaluating it. As always, I start with what I know, which is how to do research. So, I started with reviewing some literature. One piece of advice for those starting in the health professions and evaluation, is to interrogate the website of your health profession’s accrediting organization as if it will be on your comprehensive exams. I still spend quite a bit time reviewing new and old documents concerning accreditation. The accreditation process has taught me much about evaluating medical education. It is complex and dynamic, requiring research that spans intrapsychic measures of well-being to systems integration across departments and campuses.

My other piece of advice is to talk with people, or more specifically, to listen. I was fortunate to conduct key informant interviews with faculty and staff to evaluate an intervention. I quickly learned people’s jobs, some history, and much about medical school. If you don’t have a ready-made research project, work your network and arrange some coffee dates. By doing this, you will learn and you will lay the ground work for important collegial connections.

Rad Resources: If you’re conducting evaluation in schools of medicine, don’t miss the Liaison Committee on Medical Education’s Standards for Medical School Accreditation and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Competencies. Also, our journeys into evaluation in the health professions are undoubtedly unique. You might find this post by Anne Vo and Jacob Schreiber helpful as well.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Health Professions Education Evaluation and Research (HPEER) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Health Professions Education Evaluation and Research Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our HPEER TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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