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 Neal Weber, our Director of Instructional Design and Assessment, how OME is a gamechanger in instructional curriculum, and what inspires him about OME.
About Me and My Role at OnlineMedEd
I am a formally trained instructional designer who specializes in performance development in medical education. My “nerd halo” shines bright when I get involved in assessments and the data that comes from those assessment modalities.
I believe assessments need to be designed for learners, not just assess the learning itself. When the outcome is for the learner, we can use the data to support the learning process and allow learners to reconnect with content they may have missed or misunderstood.
I am also a firm believer in gamification in learning. I feel that adding an element of gaming into the learning process can provide diverse ways for learners to connect with content and allow them to enjoy the learning process instead of thinking of it as a chore.
My connection with student outcomes is very dear to me because it allows me to assist those who have the passion and desire to become a doctor.
I have focused my work and professional career on promoting the well-being of students as they embark on their journeys to become medical doctors. I’m committed to supporting and contributing to innovation in the medical curriculum to help students better understand both the health care industry and their futures right from the start. Acquiring medical knowledge is only one part of the puzzle. Helping medical students understand the importance of lifelong learning skills, team dynamics, communication skills, and self-efficacy strategies are avenues I take in my work.
Why I am excited to be part of OnlineMedEd
I worked at a medical school in the Midwest, where I secured a solid foundation in the medical education ecosystem, and which I still hold dear to my heart today. I also became curious about how other schools constructed their curriculum, and how I could help improve learning.
I love helping people find unique ways to approach medical education, and OME allows me to connect with those institutions, faculty, and administrators. I love to see the moment that the passion for teaching students returns to those who may have started to plateau. Rekindling that passion by innovating and changing curriculum delivery can be challenging, since many people don’t like change and have become complacent in how they approach instruction and learning. That mindset doesn’t allow for growth and innovation, though.
What motivates you? What is your passion?
In medical education, we train individuals to take care of people who are in pain and need assistance. We must also train individuals to be empathetic to those who are scared because something in the body is not working normally. My desire is to influence as many students as possible to understand their journey toward those goals. It takes a special person who can combine empathy with an educational understanding of that pain to create a solution for that patient. I have a personal requirement to make sure that we graduate learners who are ready for the next stage in their journey. After all, those graduates will be treating me, my family, and my friends, one day!
What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
“Failing” doesn’t need to be a bad word in your vocabulary or understanding. Failure allows a person to learn from their mistakes and grow with the new attempts they’ll make. The goal is to fail quickly to learn fast. You can try different approaches, but never wave a white flag of defeat, because you can always learn from what didn’t work and what did to find another approach.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge in medical education today?
We have diverse types of learners entering medical school, and understanding how those learners will tackle an extremely aggressive curriculum is vital to their retention of the content. The generations coming into medical school are much more tech-savvy than previous generations were, and medical education must consider that since traditional, lecture-style teaching methods are now outdated. A second challenge is more of an internal issue facing institutions today: It’s more critical than ever to alter the instructional approach to align with where the learner is during the learning phase. Not knowing where a learner has struggled or had success doesn’t allow for the institution to assist those learners and improve their learning outcomes. OnlineMedEd is working on elements of both challenges to support the whole learner and to prepare them for the next stage in their journey.
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.