A new programming grant organized by CHEST will help breathe fresh air into distanced medical education.
The Air Tank grant challenge, which is awarding its first funds during CHEST 2021, grew out of a need for improved digital learning formats during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All of our simulation centers were closed, and we were all being forced into distance learning or no learning, and boy, it was a dark time,” said the grant’s creator, Hans J. Lee, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Interventional Pulmonary Fellowship Director at Johns Hopkins University.
Knowing the creativity of CHEST members and inspired by the reality TV show “Shark Tank,” Dr. Lee pitched a unique format for a $15,000 grant aimed at developing innovative distance learning ideas. Applicants would submit 5-minute videos, rather than wading through an intimidating stack of paperwork. Three proposals would be selected as finalists and, in a nod to the TV show, the judging of the winner would be recorded into an entertaining package for a larger audience.
The Air Tank judging video is available to watch now.
First place and the $15,000 programming grant was awarded to William Kelly, MD, FCCP, for his concept, “CHEST Choices.” The proposed platform would teach medical knowledge or procedural skills using cinematic storytelling that branches into different directions based on interactive user choices.
“You get to—you have to—see the outcomes of your clinical decisions play out in real time, through characters that you have gotten to know and care about,” Dr. Kelly said, noting that CHEST members would make up the cast. “It’s engaging, evidence-based learning that sticks.”
Two proposals received honorable mentions: “Remote Learning in Bronchoscopy Using a Low-Fidelity Airway Simulator,” from Kevin Deasy, MBBCh, BSc, and Marcus Kennedy, MD, FCCP; and “Digitally-Delivered ILD Curriculum,” from Bhavin Dalal, MD, FCCP; Kanta Velamuri, MD, MBBS, FCCP; and Darlene Nelson, MD, FCCP.
Dr. Lee said he and his fellow judges—Amy Morris, MD, FCCP; David Schulman, MD, MPH, FCCP; and Robb Rabito, CHCP—faced a tough deliberation because all of the submissions were of the same high quality but approached distance learning in such different ways. He sees an opportunity for Air Tank to continue to shape the increasingly digital future of medical education.
“I hope it inspires others and sparks ideas on how to do distance learning in an innovative fashion,” Dr. Lee said. “Distance learning is here to stay; it’s just a matter of whether we can do it better and how soon. I think this grant allows it to happen now.”
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