Welcome to the Massachusetts General Hospital Academy
For physicians and healthcare professionals who value the highest standards of clinical care, the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Academy is dedicated to providing world-renowned postgraduate education that improves clinical practice and leads to better lives for patients and their families. Advanced teaching methods, an interactive learning format, and focus on solving real-world, practice-related challenges give the MGH Academy international recognition for helping providers effectively diagnose and treat a compendium of diseases and illnesses.
Since its founding in 2005, the MGH Academy has used its rich internal resources and infrastructure to implement comprehensive, sequential, iterative, and interactive educational programs that now consist of web-based interactive learning modules and clinical simulations; one-day live symposia in cities across the country; online Maintenance of Certification (MOC) modules; tuition-based, 4-week, interactive online courses; interactive e-books accessible via smartphones and tablets; online board review courses; and multi-day, in-depth conferences. All MGH Academy faculty, staff and consultants who commit their time to each program are leaders in their respective fields, and these collaborative efforts have enabled the MGH Academy to develop and design innovative educational programs, contribute to medical literature, and leverage the skills of expert clinician-researchers who emphasize practical clinical applications in their teaching.
Instructional design of all MGH Academy programs is determined by thorough needs assessments, identification of knowledge gaps, analysis of the literature, and national policy priorities that address the ever-changing landscape of healthcare redesign.
Today, Academy membership includes more than 35,000 healthcare professionals in more than 120 countries around the world and 10,000 patients, family members and care givers. Through an expertise in the evolution of healthcare education and online learning, the MGH Academy has leveraged online and mobile-based platforms such as iTunes and the MGH Academy mobile app (for iPhones and Androids) to disseminate more than 100,000 learning activities per year.
Background and Philosophy
In 2003, Massachusetts General Hospital committed to leading critical and transformative developments in the field of postgraduate provider education, including:
- Rapidly developing and adopting new teaching methods and technologies.
- Increasingly documenting the effect of education programs on provider practice and quality patient care.
The institution strongly believed that there were critical opportunities to lead the way in which postgraduate provider education was evolving, and in 2005 the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Academy was launched to build and broaden excellence in provider education. Tens of thousands of providers participated in the MGH Psychiatry Academy’s board examination review courses that covered diverse topics such as the basic neurosciences and genetics, cognitive behavioral psychotherapy, socio-cultural aspects of symptom expression, natural remedies, medical co-morbidity, child and adult psychopharmacology, and the medical legal aspects of psychiatric practice.
Following upon the success of the MGH Psychiatry Academy, in 2008 the MGH Academy was formed; together they comprise the largest department-based education program at MGH.
The MGH Academy communicates with a broad audience of clinicians about its educational programs, and as a result of successful awareness campaigns and an effective membership-driven model, a typical MGH Academy member participates in an average of five programs per year across multiple therapeutic areas that include psychiatry, oncology, cardiology, neurology and transplantation.
Recent Academy Achievements
Readying the Nation for Returning Service Members
In 2012, the MGH Psychiatry Academy, in collaboration with The Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program and the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, presented a groundbreaking free, online, CME-certified educational series. More than 5,000 healthcare providers across the nation participated in the 14-week series, running from February to May of 2012. The interactive format provided an opportunity for live question and answer with expert faculty as well as peer-to-peer discussion.
Nationwide participation in broadcast series
- Recipient of the 2011 Professionalism Article Prize from the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation. Published articles appear in peer-reviewed journals and posters presentations are made at national meetings
- Recent tuition-based conferences include the 36th annual Psychopharmacology conference; Child Psychopharmacology; ADHD Across the Lifespan; Difficult to Treat Depression; Advances in Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychiatric Comorbidity in Autism Spectrum Disorders; and programs on mood disorders for visiting psychiatrists from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and The Bahamas as part of an international collaboration with La Asociación Civil de Investigación y Desarrollo en Salud (ACINDES), Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- Recent tuition-free online activities include Advances in Management of Chronic Pain; Advances in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Pain; Management of GI Malignancies and Dysplasia; and Management of Early Metastatic Melanoma
- Recent patient and family education programs include Complementary and Alternative Medicine; 10th Annual Schizophrenia Day; Current Issues in Youth Sports; Trauma and Loss; and Unipolar and Bipolar Depression
- Launched tuition-based online courses on The Fundamentals of CBT; New Strategies for Working with Couples; Using CBT in the Treatment of Children; and The Fundamentals of Mind-Body Medicine.
- Launched a comprehensive Psychiatry Recertification Exam Update & Preparation Course, along with a companion interactive e-book – both products are fully mobile-friendly and accessible via smartphones and tablets
- Launched a live, online interactive Virtual Grand Rounds Series – accessible in both live and archived formats and marketed to clinicians in all types of community-based and institutional practice settings, the series includes participants from California to Maine and includes international participants from Canada, Nigeria, India and other countries across the globe
- Launched ABPN-approved Maintenance of Certification (MOC) self-assessment modules on general psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, ADHD, substance abuse, anxiety, psychosis, and mood disorders
Development and Adoption of Teaching Methods and Technologies
The MGH Academy incorporates basic principles of learning methodology into its educational programming. Qualitative and quantitative market research conducted with hundreds of multidisciplinary providers across the country highlights the importance of fully incorporating peer-to-peer and faculty-to-peer learning as the background of the MGH Academy curriculum format. These findings complement research that shows passive learning in traditional lecture formats does not lead to increased retention and utilization rates.
To address these educational challenges and provide participants with a learning environment best suited to achieving all learning objective goals, the MGH Academy developed a program design that utilizes a multi-dimensional, sequential, and iterative learning environment of interrelated educational activities. In this learning model, each activity is completed in a specific order for optimal learning and retention of key concepts. The format moves each learner along a path from a broad overview down to applying specific learning points in a simulated clinical environment.
The Academy’s typical sequential design.
STEP ONE: Live Symposia or Webcast
Expert speakers provide broad overviews in areas where there are a demonstrated knowledge gaps. Talks range from 45 minutes to 1 hour and often consist of case reviews and panel discussions. Live presentations and case reviews are also videotaped and converted to archived webcasts that anyone can view on this website. And like the original participants in the live symposium, all learners who view the archived webcasts are also able to respond to questions and have their responses aggregated into a program database.
STEP TWO: Interactive Learning Module (ILM)
Developed from an analysis of the data from the live presentations and/or webcasts, the ILM provides an opportunity to further engage in learning through a 30-minute web-based tutorial that includes PowerPoint slides with embedded audio video clips. After specific learning points are made, content slides are paused and multiple choice questions are presented to assess understanding of the material. Depending on their answers, participants may be asked to complete additional, short (5-minute) web tutorials. This real-time evaluation of knowledge allows for additional remediation if there are demonstrated knowledge gaps, thereby providing a learning experience that is dynamically customized to the needs of individual learners.
STEP 3: Computer Simulation Assessment Tool (CSAT)
A pilot study suggests that interactive simulation provides a reliable representation of a clinician’s performance in practice and allows for assessment of the impact of MGH Academy educational interventions. Hence, the CSAT goes beyond “test taking” by immersing participants in a virtual clinical encounter that reflects themes discussed in the ILM and asks them to exercise new knowledge in a virtual clinical encounter. There are four sections to the virtual encounter: Introduction, Simulation, Virtual Note and Feedback. Learners view 15-25 minute vignettes of a clinical interview during which they choose from a menu of treatment and discussion options that mirror the choices typically faced in an actual clinical encounter.
Documenting the Effect of Education Programs on Provider Practice and Quality Patient Care
Upon completion of each educational activity, the impact of the intervention is measured against the identifiable need to improve health care quality. The MGH Academy goes beyond simply offering outstanding content to implement a systematic and data-driven approach to studying the dynamics of the processes underlying provider education, as well as generating validated outcome metrics.
The MGH Academy membership is a strong and robust source for generating evaluation and outcomes measures (EOMs),and our educational experts constantly explore a number of new techniques to ensure accurate needs assessment of provider knowledge and to identify crucial controversies or gaps that critically affect patient care. All MGH Academy needs assessments and learning objectives are built around clinically actionable items (e.g., correct dose, when to utilize multimodal therapeutic interventions, etc.) that are chosen because they can be longitudinally and quantitatively measured. EOMs are validated against external standards (evidence-based studies, consensus guidelines and stratified provider bench mark cohorts, etc.) to provide more than 25,000 MGH Academy members with meaningful, aggregate (anonymous) performance feedback.
Building Toward the Future
This website is focused on enhanced interactivity and is a dynamic portal to a virtual postgraduate university where learners find unique opportunities to enhance their knowledge and clinical skill sets across multiple therapeutic areas. This is designed to be simply the first step in a sequence of events that provide MGH Academy members with the highest-quality, individualized learning experience.
As more and more practitioners seek high-quality, practice-based clinical information in easily-accessible formats, the MGH Academy continues to grow and evolve. We invite you to become part of this unique professional community for continual educational development –access is completely free and provides you with the opportunity to find answers to critical questions as they arise at the point of clinical contact in your day-to-day practice.
To join, simply complete a member registration today.
Together, we can discover and implement the best evidence and approaches to advance patient care, while preserving our place as clinicians that our patients trust.
Tristan Gorrindo, MD
Director, MGH Postgraduate Medical Education
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Robert J. Birnbaum, MD, PhD
Director, Continuing Professional Development, Partners Healthcare
Director, Knowledge Translation Research, Massachusetts General Hospital Academy
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School