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Medical Education The Gamechanger Series

Courtney Cross, PhD — How OnlineMedEd Supports Best Practices in Medical Education

Courtney Cross, PhD Courtney Cross, PhD

Welcome to the OME Gamechanger Series. The overarching goal of this series is to highlight an important aspect of medical education and how OME plans to make a difference. Each month, an academic expert and member of the OME team will share how OME is connected to the bigger picture through their eyes. In this installment of the Gamechanger Series, we will focus on Courtney Cross, PhD, our Assistant Director of Medical Education, why she believes OME is a gamechanger in best practices in medical education, and what inspires her about OME.

At OnlineMedEd, we believe improving patient care starts by transforming learning in and out of the classroom.  We help faculty and institutions by providing medical teaching resources that enable easier teaching, reinforcement and learning of crucial foundations so faculty can build stronger medical professionals, institutions can expand their impact, and students can transform memorization into knowledge. The result is a more empathetic and prepared generation of healthcare professionals, which has the downstream impact of improving millions of lives through great patient care.

About me and my role at OnlineMedEd 

I am the Assistant Director for Medical Education at OnlineMedEd. In this role, I work with my Institutional Success Team colleagues to provide a bridge between institutional partners and OME, assisting in needs assessment, curricular integration of OME resources, and faculty development.  

Prior to joining OME, I was a founding pre-clinical faculty member of the Burnett School of Medicine at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. I also served as a pre-clinical faculty member at A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine at Mesa, AZ. 

I’m originally from Missouri and grew up in San Antonio, TX. I obtained my B.S. in Molecular & Cell Biology from Texas A&M University and my Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Texas Medical Branch, with a research focus in genetic toxicology. I remained at UTMB for a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Environmental Toxicology post-doctoral fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Pharmacology & Biodevelopment. During my pre-doc and post-doc training, I taught undergraduate, graduate, and medical school courses and realized I preferred teaching to laboratory research. Therefore, I completed the Teaching and Mentoring program at UTMB prior to my first full-time faculty position, and the Essential Skills in Medical Education program through the International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE).

Why did I decide to join OnlineMed? 

As I continue to develop my professional identity as an educational scholar, I sought out opportunities to help others do the same. Frequently, medical educators, regardless of degree, have very little training in best practices in teaching and learning. We focus too much on what we want to teach, and too little on how learners learn. I became passionate about providing authentic learner-centered medical education through my own continuing education and through mentoring faculty. OnlineMedEd shares this ideal of learner-centeredness, implementing best practices in multimedia design and adult learning. In joining the Institutional Success Team at OME, I can reach beyond a single home institution to influence faculty success, and thus learner success, in health professions programs across the country and internationally. I’m honored to be at the forefront of OME expanding offerings for both learners and faculty. 

I became passionate about providing authentic learner-centered medical education through my own continuing education and through mentoring faculty.

In what way am I most excited to work with institutions? 

I am most excited to partner with institutions by supporting their faculty in curricular design and mapping to increase active learning, clinical integration in the preclinical years, and professional identity formation. Faculty may feel a disconnect between their professional identity and their institution’s expectations with the continued push for early clinical integration, a shorter pre-clinical sciences curriculum, and increased class time dedicated to active learning. A lack of resources, support, and training in teaching and learning can exacerbate the issue. My goal is to help faculty feel heard and confident that they have the tools they need for professional growth. 

What do I feel is the biggest challenge in medical education today? How will OnlineMedEd tackle the challenge? 

Dr. Stewart Mennin published Ten Global Challenges in Medical Education” during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. What struck me when I read the article was the theme of time. Faculty feel they lack sufficient time to wear all of the many hats ascribed to the role: teacher, clinician, researcher, service member to the institution, curriculum developer, assessor, collaborator, administrator, mentor, and learner. Likewise, learners feel increasing demands to have the best CV for residency applications, and to search out opportunities for scholarship, volunteering, and leadership – all while faculty encourage them to focus on well-being. OME tackles this challenge by providing an integrated core curriculum that can leverage active learning, self-directed learning, standardizing clerkship curricula across clinical sites, and exam preparation. We give faculty back time to develop a truly authentic curriculum and focus on the innumerable tasks required to achieve excellence in academic medicine.

What is the best advice someone ever gave me? 

Go for a walk, you’ll feel better afterwards.  

What are some opportunities you have to enhance faculty development in teaching and learning at your institution? What are some barriers we can overcome together? Click here to start a conversation.