April 01, 2012

Larry D. Gruppen, PhD

Larry D. Gruppen, PhD
What Are You Thinking About?

I’m working on a collaboration of 29 medical schools to study the medical school learning environment. The effort is supported by the American Medical Association and provides an opportunity to study how different characteristics of the curriculum, student body, admissions criteria, organizational structure and leadership influence the learning environment. Most prior studies have been at single institutions, so this will enable us to assess the impact of variation in the institutional context.

Why is this interesting to you?

Through my 30+ years of research in medical education, I’ve come to appreciate its complexity and the importance of the social and clinical environment. As a psychologist, I tend to focus on the individual, so it has been a revelation to see the impact of the environment rather than the individual teachers or learners.

What are the practical implications for health care?

It’s common to say that clinical care is getting more complex and knowledge is exploding, but these changes will have profound impact on the settings and situations in which students, residents, and practicing physicians learn. We need to understand how these changes support or hinder our educational and patient care goals. 

When you’re not working, what do you do?

I dabble in photography, woodworking, and stained glass. Travel is another highlight, especially when not work-related.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

34 years of marriage and two sons would be tops, although my wife Louise gets most of the credit for that. Professionally, it would be the growth of the Department of Medical Education into an internationally recognized center for research and innovation. I’m also proud of the rich and productive community of educators and scholars at the Medical School. It’s second to none.

What was the last book you read?

I recently finished a volume of John Donne’s poetry and prose. Much of my “reading” is via audio while biking to work. I like histories and have a goal of reading a biography of each of the U.S. presidents.

Which three people (living or dead) would you invite to dinner?

It’s a tough choice but I’d include Abraham Lincoln after reading Doris Goodwin’s Team of Rivals – I’d want to hear how he made his war-time decisions with a cabinet made up of men, each of whom thought they could do Lincoln’s job better than he could. I’d love to have my great-grandfather there, who came over from the Netherlands and could describe our family origins. To round out the table, I’d add someone like Ansel Adams, to discuss photography as art and communication.

What’s the most thrilling or adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

Adventure isn’t very common for me, but after my younger son graduated from college, he and I went ballooning high over Queensland, Australia, and then did some diving on the Great Barrier Reef, all in about 24 hours.