October 06, 2017

Joel Heidelbaugh, MD: Advancing medical education

Future physicians prepare for changing health care for the greater good

University of Michigan Medical School

As a veteran medical educator, Joel Heidelbaugh, M.D., brings his wealth of experience to our students every day as the Family Medicine Clerkship director. His expanded role as director of the Patients and Populations Branch gives him even more opportunity to bring better med ed to life. Here, Dr. Heidelbaugh answers seven questions about his role in guiding and preparing medical students for careers in the ever-changing world of health care.

What is your mission when it comes to your role in the Branches?

My role as director of the Patients and Populations Branch is to develop the platform upon which our medical students, regardless of future specialty or future career, can learn key provisions of how to deliver high quality, cost-effective, compassionate care for a wide variety of patient populations. I coordinate a team of highly dedicated and talented physicians and researchers who serve as preceptors, mentors and advisors, and strive to facilitate the best skill development in our students.

As the field of medicine is constantly advancing, my aim is to guide students toward understanding the importance of caring for populations of patients, improving outcomes and becoming the leaders of changing the health care of tomorrow.

What appealed to you in taking on this position?

Having been active in medical student education for almost 20 years, encompassing roles in clinical teaching, educational research and serving as a clerkship director, this new role affords me the platform upon which I can be innovative in developing opportunities and collaborative relationships for students, as well as maximizing their future potential and preparedness for residency and beyond.

What do you think would appeal to a med student who is considering the Patients and Populations Branch?

The Patients and Populations Branch is an ideal match for the student who values longitudinal experiences with patients across multiple inpatient and outpatient settings, coupled with integration with interprofessional care teams. The ideal student in our Branch asks provocative questions about health care delivery, and proposes solutions toward improving the health and wellbeing of select populations of patients.

What has been your favorite part about piloting your Branch so far?

The ability to work with exceptionally bright and motivated students who play a creative role in exploring and defining their passion for medical student education and their future careers. The sky's the limit!

What are you looking forward to next with your Branch’s development?

Expanding our Branch will push the boundaries of the impact that students can generate in patient care and research. Whether through standard or customized rotations at Michigan Medicine, or electives at peer institutions or abroad through our renowned Global REACH program, our students obtain an unparalleled experience in all aspects of clinical medicine, research and advocacy.

I look forward to creating more opportunities for students and expanding the boundaries of what can be taught in medical education.

What do you like about working with med students?

Working with medical students drives me to continually advance my teaching, mentoring and role modeling skills, and to create optimal collaborative experiences for them. They always drive me to be more creative, objective and an agent of change.

How would you describe the benefits of the Branches to someone who is considering the University of Michigan Medical School for their medical education?

The Branches are a novel paradigm that allows highly motivated and innovative students to develop a unique and personalized set of clinical, research and leadership skills to bring to residency and future practice.

The unique flexibility of our curriculum and strong mentorship, coupled with the passion of our faculty and administration, provide a world-class experience for future medical students who value being on the cutting edge of medical education advancement.