By Matthew Brett

From training “bootcamps” for Pediatrics residents to resident-as-teacher initiatives, Dr. Elisa Ruano Cea is innovating within health sciences education and having an impact. 

Dr. Ruano Cea is an Associate Member of the Institute of Health Sciences Education, the Assistant Program Director for General Pediatrics at McGill, and a practicing Academic General Pediatrician at the Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH).

Prior to the pandemic, Dr. Ruano Cea – together with a group of trainees – developed, implemented and evaluated a stage-specific resident bootcamp in Pediatrics. Bootcamps are intensive training sessions in a condensed timeframe. This particular bootcamp was designed to prepare residents for new roles and responsibilities at key transition periods of their training.

Separately, Dr. Ruano Cea has conducted research on resident-as-teacher approaches at the post-graduate medical education level. She is now working with a medical student to explore the possibility of integrating resident-as-teacher curricula at the undergraduate medical education level. The idea is to facilitate resident-as-teacher training across the continuum of a learner’s journey, while aligning with Competency-Based Medical Education (CBME) best practices.

Dr. Ruano Cea is also CBME Lead for the Faculty’s General Pediatrics Program. Together with colleagues at the MCH, she led a department-wide needs assessment to explore current practices around feedback based on direct observation in the workplace. This work has informed a number of CBME-related strategies for faculty and trainee development.

Dr. Ruano Cea recognizes the importance of publishing and sharing theory-informed, evidence-based educational initiatives like this in order to improve medical education and patient care.

“We put so much work into developing rigorous educational initiatives, so it is important to think about national or international dissemination of our experiences and findings so that we can contribute, in some way, to advancing the field of health professions education,” said Dr. Ruano Cea.

A Made by McGill story: an emerging leader

Dr. Ruano Cea completed her undergraduate, postgraduate and residency training here at McGill, and became inspired by the field of medical education during her residency, working with Dr. Mylène Dandavino.

She worked with Dr. Evelyn Constantin and Dr. Dandavino on a project during medical residency to enhance trainee obesity counseling practices. Exploring theoretical frameworks to help understand constructs that influence behaviours and clinical practice sparked Dr. Ruano Cea’s interest in medical education.

Completing a Master of Health Professions Education degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago (2014-16), Dr. Ruano Cea also cites Institute Faculty Member Dr. Aliki Thomas and Dr. Constantin, her thesis supervisors, as important figures in her professional development.

Being awarded the Emerging Scholar in Medical Education (2018-19) at the Institute provided her with dedicated research time, allowing Dr. Ruano Cea to publish her thesis work in Medical Teacher, unpacking the concept of “reverse educational distance,” wherein residents teach an academically senior audience.

The Emerging Scholar fund is supported by Nathan Laufer, MDCM’77, a loyal donor to the Institute of Health Sciences Education and to the McGill Faculty of Medicine.

“It is such a privilege to hear that our support is helping residents and faculty,” said Dr. Laufer. “Dr. Ruano Cea’s work is making a real difference in the lives of residents and patients alike.”

Residents-as-teachers during the pandemic

Dr. Ruano Cea’s strong foundation in health sciences education is having an impact on the frontlines of the pandemic. Her early contributions include strategies to enhance resident personal protective equipment and safety training, along with lunch-and-learns and events like “resident research day” via Zoom to continue teaching academic activities despite the COVID-19 .

“We have also included a session for resident wellness via Zoom and, under the great leadership of the chief residents, activities to bring the group together in a virtual manner,” said Dr. Ruano Cea.

She has also supported a Pediatrics department-wide faculty development initiative around protective personal equipment training, participated in protocol developments, and interdisciplinary simulations. 

From bootcamps to knowledge translation: what’s next?

Going forward, Dr. Ruano Cea intends to continue developing health sciences education research skills, conduct further education research, and continue pushing the envelope on curriculum design, implementation and evaluation.

“Working with trainees and colleagues, we want to develop, implement and evaluate novel educational strategies to make our curriculum as strong as it can be,” said Dr. Ruano Cea. “It has kept us quite busy!”

She stresses the importance of health sciences education research through the Institute of Health Sciences Education.

“The health sciences education field is a very interesting and exciting community to be part of because it keeps us on our tip-toes,” said Dr. Ruano Cea. “It challenges us to rethink, question and explore the way we teach and learn on a day-to-day basis.”

July 1, 2020