Professor, Student Recognized at 17th Annual McCahan Education Day
Patricia Elliott, clinical associate professor of community health sciences, received the Educational Innovation Award, and Stephen Murray, a recent MPH graduate, received the School of Public Health’s Best Student Abstract Award.
Patricia Elliott, clinical associate professor of community health sciences, and Stephen Murray (SPH’22), a new MPH graduate, were recently recognized for their accomplishments at the 17th annual John McCahan Medical Campus Education Day conference on May 25. Elliott received the Educational Innovation Award, and Murray received the School of Public Health’s Best Student Abstract Award.
The Educational Innovation Award recognizes faculty who challenge the traditional ways of teaching and learning in the classroom. Elliott joined the faculty at SPH in 2013, and has dedicated her work to training the next generation of public health practitioners. She teaches courses in health behavior theory; maternal, child, and adolescent health; and program management, and uses a combination of simulations, case methods, and practice-based teaching to help students apply their skills to real-world scenarios in the classroom.
She is described by her colleagues as “an outstanding educator in all aspects,” an ardent advocate for centering equity and justice in teaching, and a consistent source of information and support regarding course development, design, and implementation.
In one of several nomination letters, Elliott’s colleague wrote that “her commitment to practice-based teaching can be seen in all of her courses, particularly in her Health of Adolescents and Emerging Adults course, which has historically been taught as a review of health problems among teens.” Elliott has worked to redesign the course and connect students to outside organizations in the field like the Boston Public Health Commission to help them better understand the complex health needs of this population, identify gaps in care, and provide additional resources to enrich their learning experience.
“Over the years, [her classes] have become more like innovation labs than lecture halls,” wrote another colleague, allowing students to foster meaningful relationships inside and outside of the classroom, as well as to “develop confidence as both innovators and public health problem solvers.”
Murray was recognized at the conference for his work creating an educational tool to support Massachusetts EMTs and paramedics in providing care for people who use drugs. To create the training, which Murray developed as part of his MPH practicum experience, he pulled from both his knowledge and professional experience as a Lieutenant for Northern Berkshire EMS and his lived experience of being in recovery from substance use for over 10 years.
The one-hour training works to break down stigma, share alternative methods of care, and rethink and improve patient care through intentional action. The training covers a wide range of topics, including an overview of the current drug supply, why people may overdose, pain management, and the importance of using person-centered language when speaking with a receiving nurse or doctor at a hospital.
“Hospitals are busy, so they often rely on EMTs and paramedics to help them triage patients. We mark patients by severity so the most serious patients get care the quickest, and people don’t often realize that we can poison the idea of how serious a patient is before the hospital even gets to put eyes on them,” says Murray, emphasizing that this is especially true when working with marginalized patients, including people who use drugs, people of color, and people experiencing homelessness.
“As EMS providers, we understand how the system works, so we have the ability to be advocates for any patient that we have,” he says. “I want this training to help EMTs and paramedics understand that they have the power to impact patient trajectory and can truly make a difference for people.”
The training has been approved by the Massachusetts Office of Emergency Medical Services, and participants will be eligible to receive one hour of continuing education credits. A pilot of the training will launch in June.
McCahan Education Day brings together faculty, staff, and students from across the Boston University Medical Campus to share and highlight excellence in education, research, and practice. The day honors John F. McCahan, who served as the associate dean for academic affairs at the BU School of Medicine from 1976 to 2006. Throughout his career, McCahan earned the admiration of his colleagues for his ability to articulate and implement a clear vision of modern medical education.