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The MD–MEd Joint-Degree Program at Vanderbilt University: Training Future Expert Medical Educators

Sullivan, William M. MD, MEd; DeVolder, Jacob MD, MEd; Bhutiani, Monica MS; Neal, Kristen W. PhD; Miller, Bonnie M. MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001497
Innovation Reports
AM Rounds Blog Post

Problem: Some medical students are drawn to medical education as an area of academic specialization. However, few options exist for medical students who wish to build a scholarly foundation for future careers in medical education.

Approach: In 2011, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) and Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University partnered to establish a novel dual-degree program that, through transfer of credit, allows students to graduate with both an MD and a master of education (MEd) degree in five years. The MD–MEd joint-degree program equips students with robust knowledge and skills related to general education while providing opportunities through independent studies and capstone projects to contextualize these ideas in medical education.

Outcomes: This innovation at Vanderbilt University demonstrates the feasibility of an MD–MEd joint-degree program. MD–MEd graduates’ demonstrated commitment to medical education and credentials will allow them to take on greater educational responsibilities earlier in their careers and quickly gain experience. The three author participants feel their experiences allowed them to achieve desired competencies as educators. They have each gained early experience by chairing the Student Curriculum Committee and contributing to major curricular reform at VUSM.

Next Steps: The authors plan to integrate specific medical education competencies into the program, which will require MD–MEd students to develop and demonstrate proficiency in the knowledge and skills expected of dedicated medical educators. Graduates’ career trajectories will be tracked to explore whether they become medical educators, conduct educational research, and assume leadership positions.

W.M. Sullivan is a fourth-year resident in internal medicine and pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee.

J. DeVolder is a second-year resident in internal medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee.

M. Bhutiani is an MD–MEd candidate, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

K.W. Neal is codirector, Learning and Design Program, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

B.M. Miller is senior associate dean for health sciences education, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

An AM Rounds blog post on this article is available at

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to William M. Sullivan, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Medical Center East, 7th Floor, North Tower, Suite 2, 1215 21st Ave. South, Nashville, TN 37232-8550; telephone: (516) 314-3617; e-mail:

© 2017 by the Association of American Medical Colleges