Escape the Patient Safety Room of Horrors. iPad Chalk Talks. The Spaghetti Tower Challenge. Field trips to pathology. @NestlerQODay. #postitpearls.

If these are familiar to you, you have probably had the great fortune to encounter the innovative and impactful teaching of Michelle N. Brooks, M.D., Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Academic Hospitalist, Associate Program Director for Inpatient Medicine, and Hospitalist Pathway Director. Dr. Brooks completed her internal medicine residency here at VCU and joined our faculty in 2011. An academic hospitalist, Dr. Brooks teaches students and residents in the inpatient clinical environment, a constant innovator and advocate for learners.

A pioneer in the use of social media and other technology for clinical teaching, Dr. Brooks uses these tools to foster intellectual curiosity and increase learner engagement. “Her @ NestlerQODay and #postitpearls are dynamic, modern ways to promote learning in the clinical setting, positively impacting her local as well as a much broader audience,” states Avital Y. O’Glasser, MD, FACP, FHM, Associate Professor of Hospital Medicine and Assistant Program Director for Social Media and Scholarship, Internal Medicine Residency Program, Oregon Health & Science University.

Residents Nicholas Boleman, M.D., Andrew Hanna, M.D., and Joseph D. Lykins, V, M.D. describe their experiences as learners: “Her use of an iPad on rounds for “chalk talks” prepared beforehand, as well as on the fly, to integrate the vast resources of medical literature … was incalculably valuable, and represents a strategy that we intend to employ. … She was able to strike the perfect balance between supervision and autonomy … consistently available but showing us that she had confidence in us by respecting our decisions for patients and providing any corrections when they were necessary. Even when she was offering gentle course correction, Dr. Brooks was respectful of differences in clinical approach and frequently acknowledged the inherent uncertainties, probabilities, and heterogeneity of practice.”

“One of the things I appreciate most about Dr. Brooks is how perceptive she is of student and resident individual strengths and contributions to care as well as challenges and areas for improvement. In addition to frequent feedback in the moment, Dr. Brooks makes a point to set aside time to meet with everyone individually to discuss goals and later reflect on to what extent they were achieved. … She takes notice of not only your medical knowledge and communications skills, but also the thoughtfulness you put forth in treating a patient as an individual” recalls Laura Wozneak, M.D., PGY-1 Resident, VCU Department of Psychiatry.

Dr. Brooks has disseminated her work through national presentations, invited talks, and publications. Because of her educational leadership, she was recently invited to join the Journal of Hospital Medicine Editorial Fellowship program as a Digital Media Fellow. The first to volunteer to support a new faculty member, Dr. Brooks often joins faculty on rounds to provide structured feedback to improve clinical teaching. She runs twice monthly clinical teaching faculty development sessions for Internal Medicine faculty.

A recognized leader in improving patient safety, Dr. Brooks’ dynamic “Escape the Patient Safety Room of Horrors” simulation exercise allows interns to work as a group to identify safety hazards. Residents who help prevent safety issues are recognized with “Good Catch Awards.” To support safety event reporting, a QI resident visits team rooms offering to help report safety events if the ward resident is short on time. “As a result of Dr. Brook’s efforts, there has been a significant increase in patient safety event reporting. Dr. Brooks has shared this program nationally with parts of the curriculum now in use at Internal Medicine Residency Programs at 3 other universities” explains Kimberly Pedram, M.D., SFHM, FACP Course Director, Practice of Clinical Medicine, Associate Chair for Education, Division of Hospital Medicine, Assistant Professor of Medicine, VCUHS.

Despite her many accomplishments, Dr. Brooks continues to strive for excellence, always pushing to improve the learner’s educational experience. We honor her as an extraordinary clinical educator.