July 7, 2021

CSC Awards Honor Excellence in Simulation Education

2021 Educator of the Year, Innovator of the Year and Scholar of the Year were endorsed by the Clinical Simulation Center Steering Committee today.

The awardees were nominated, then chosen from active Michigan Medicine staff, faculty, residents, or fellows.  Nominees were required to be currently active in simulation-based education and could not have received the same award in the previous year.  The CSC is pleased to congratulate this year's three recipients: 

Educator of the Year is Elizabeth Putnam, Anesthesiology - This award recognizes individual(s) for exceptional educational skill as recognized by colleagues through nomination and by learners through educational evaluations.

  • This past year Dr. Putnam persevered to create an OSCE board preparation course for ~90 anesthesiology residents using standard patients who remained virtual.  Her dedication is admirable, and her willingness to innovate and try something new is remarkable!  She is also universally recognized by learners, peers and CSC staff as an outstanding and dedicated simulation educator.

Innovator of the Year is Sonal Owens, Pediatric Cardiology -This award recognizes individual(s) for significant contributions advancing simulation utilizing unique concepts & techniques. They are forward thinkers who bring new concepts, strategies and educational techniques or technologies to improve education, assessment and/or learner or clinical outcomes and those, who work positively to affect change in the simulation community. These efforts can include leadership or education, and can be at the local or national level.

  • Dr. Owens identified a need for a new methodology to teach the complex 3D anatomy and physiology of congenital heart defects to residents and medical students.  She collaborated with colleagues from Stanford to adapt and grow a nascent Virtual Reality platform to provide a VR “walking tour” of eight essential heart defects, lead a multi-institutional research project to evaluate the technology and curriculum and then successfully scaled the intervention to many peer institutions.  The development, evaluation, and scaling of this ideal use-case for VR should be the benchmark for all VR applications and this holds the potential to scale to all medical schools, pediatric residency programs and cardiology fellowships across the globe due to the innovative design, low cost and ability for learners to complete the curriculum and rigorous assessment on-demand.  This is an outstanding innovation by all measures and could not have been accomplished without Dr. Owens expertise, drive, national collaborator network and her dedication to education. 

Scholar of the Year is Payton Schmidt, Obstetrics and Gynecology - This award recognizes individual(s) for significant contributions advancing the field of simulation-based health professions education through publications and/or presentations

  • The Summer of 2018, Dr. Schmidt came to me with a vision to develop a simulation-based vaginal skills educational system. Since then, Payton has propelled the associated research to include development and validation of the task trainer, development and validation of the curriculum and associated assessment rubric, AND establishment of assessment performance standards. I would also like to note that during this time, she faced Covid, became a new mother, and transitioned from UM fellow to faculty. Dr. Schmidt’s dedication to this work was recognized by a CSC Research grant (2018; $15K), GME Innovations grant (2021; $69K), and resulted in robust scholarship, including two presentations, two manuscripts, and one UM Office of tech transfer disclosure. Dr. Schmidt is just getting started, and her dedication and significant contributions should be highlighted as an aspirational standard.