November 02, 2017

David Hughes, MD: Shepherding success

Branch curriculum takes training to the finish line

university of michigan medical school

Since 2013, University of Michigan Medical School students, faculty and staff have come together to revamp the MD curriculum to align it better with the needs of society. One of these faculty is David Hughes, MD, assistant professor of Surgery and director of the Procedures-Based Care Branch.

Here, Dr. Hughes answers seven questions about training the next generation of physician leaders and what is next for this phase of the curriculum.

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

As director of the Procedures-Based Care Branch, I want to help create opportunities for medical students that allow them to explore what specialty is right for them as a career, as well as to explore the aspects of medicine that go beyond patient care such as global health, scientific research, volunteering, teaching and community service, which are so important to our identity as physicians.

What appealed to you in taking on this position?

I have long enjoyed teaching and working with medical students throughout my career because medical school is such an exciting and important time in their professional development. Not only are they learning the science of medicine, but they are also learning the art of what it means to be a physician: caring, teaching, listening, working within the health care team, and being a leader for our patients.

What do you think would appeal to a med student who is considering the Procedures-Based Care Branch?

The Procedures-Based Care Branch would appeal to students who enjoy and find professional satisfaction in diagnosing and treating disease through technical procedural skills, and in having a deep understanding of the pathophysiology of that disease.

They may also like taking care of very sick patients, spending time in the operating room or some other procedural setting, and enjoy the exciting, fast-paced work environment of the emergency room, ICU or hospital wards.

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

I have truly enjoyed seeing the creativity, drive and successes of the students who have completed the Branch pilots in the past few years. Not only have they taken advantage of the educational opportunities of the traditional M4 year, they have gone above and beyond in their IMPACT projects to create a professional identity for themselves that they will throughout their careers.

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

I’m excited about the development of the Residency Prep Courses and the expansion of these courses to all medical students across all specialties. These courses are the “finishing school” for undergraduate medical education and they really get students ready for day one of residency.  

Students love these courses because they are a chance to reconnect with their fellow students heading to similar residency specialties and because they allow them to apply what they’ve learned in simulated patient care situations and to hone the skills they will need in a few months as a new resident.

What do you like about working with med students?

Seeing medical students you've taught and mentored succeed in their endeavors I think provides more sustained job satisfaction than any individual accomplishment ever could. Not only are you positively influencing the lives and careers of your students, you are positively affecting the thousands of patients, students and residents they will care for and teach throughout their careers. Teaching others is a nearly infinite multiplier of yourself. What could be better than that?

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

Toward the end of medical school, students have started to develop their identities as future physicians. They have had the experiences with patients, the health care team and with other students that allow them to start thinking about how they want to change the world. The Branches give students an opportunity to start their work on changing the world through research, innovation, education, global health, health care policy and much more. It is up to them to make it happen.