Jonathan Sherbino may be an emergency physician, but he can still be surprised.

He was astonished when he learned this week that he has won a 3M National Teaching Fellowship award for his ground-breaking work as a medical educator.

The 3M National Teaching Fellowship is Canada’s most prestigious recognition of excellence in educational leadership and teaching at the post-secondary level, and Sherbino is one of 10 national fellowships for 2021.

“It’s something of a shock honestly, and it reminds you that people enter into teaching with a desire to influence learners, build a relationship with them and watch them progress,” said Sherbino, a professor of medicine and assistant dean at the McMaster Education Research, Innovation and Theory (MERIT) program.

“An award like this allows you to look back and see how all these small moments connect into a larger narrative, as well as the influence your students and colleagues have on you.”

Sherbino has a track record of leadership at both the national and local levels for the implementation of the Competence by Design initiative begun in 2018 by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada to reform medical specialist training.

 At McMaster it started with his turning the teaching of emergency medicine into a tailored course for medical residents which allows individual learners to advance at their own pace with built-in assessments to track their progress. Performance feedback can be given at a patient’s bedside in a more transparent process.

Students can also log data on their performance and use it to monitor and improve their learning as they meet key course milestones.

The emergency medicine residency program was among the first of McMaster’s postgraduate medical programs to move to Competence by Design.

Six years ago, Sherbino and co-authors Linda Snell and Jason R. Frank published the CanMEDS 2015 Physician Competency Framework guide, laying out the capabilities physicians need to effectively function upon graduating training. The guide is now used to assess new doctors both in Canada and abroad.

At the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, he is the past chair of the emergency medicine specialty committee and the clinician educator diploma program.

“I think it’s really important that we make the connection between current practice as physicians and how we can better serve our patients, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Sherbino.

The emergency medicine program is only one of several initiatives Sherbino has spearheaded in health sciences education.

Online, Sherbino co-hosts the Key Literature in Medical Education podcast, with nearly 300,000 downloads from 80 countries each year. He has also co-chaired the Annual International Conference on Residency Education.

“Dr. Sherbino has dedicated his career to improving the quality of both medicine and medical education,” said Paul O’Byrne, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

“He is widely considered an excellent educator with a demonstrated passion for training the next generation of physicians, and he has been a driver for change in medical education.”

Sherbino completed his undergraduate medical training at the University of Ottawa in 2000 and graduated a year later following the completion of an international health fellowship that included work in India, Nepal and Africa.

He joined McMaster in 2006 after finishing his specialist training in emergency medicine at the University of Toronto.

“Dr. Sherbino’s teaching methods have had an immeasurable impact on his students, Faculty, and McMaster as a whole,” said Susan Tighe, provost and vice-president, academic.

“We are fortunate to have instructors like him on the leading edge of innovation in teaching, with a focus on delivering the best possible learning experience for students. We greatly appreciate his creativity and leadership in preparing the next generation of doctors, especially at a time when medical professionals are so critical for the wellbeing of our society.”

 

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