In 2016, McGraw Hill had a targeted mission - to identify key opportunities related to digital teaching and learning in medical education. To gain meaningful insight, our first step was to speak with customers. Working in tandem with our digital product team, a group of determined editors set out on a market discovery mission.
In 2016, The McGraw Hill team engaged medical educators and leaders, faculty and students in medical schools across the country. Two key themes emerged from both educators and students: placing didactic content into a clinical context, and making the education time-efficient. By conducting research interviews, we focused on potential solutions. That's when the idea of sequestered Teaching Cases emerged. Customers believed that high quality, secured digital case studies could provide faculty with the tools to teach students clinically and apply basic science content while saving time in facilitating contextual learning.
After a series of discussions, focus groups and classroom audits, the vision crystallized:
- Sequestered cases designed for teaching
- Peer reviewed content to assure quality
- Questions to stimulate meaningful discussion
- Ability to customize based on teaching/learning environment and objectives
Once our product vision was shaped, we knew we had to find the right author to help us execute the vision. Dr. Eugene Toy has been our partner since 2001; the popular Case Files series was a result of his innovative case-based teaching approach built by applying mechanisms of disease. We traveled to Houston to pitch our idea to Dr. Toy and his daughter Allison (a nurse and writer), and his wife Terri (project manager). Dr. Toy enthusiastically accepted our proposal.
Dr. Toy developed a list of 100 key conditions encompassing the breadth of clinical medicine. The basic template followed the usual approach of chief complaint, further history, physical exam findings, diagnosis, and treatment. Interspersed within the clinical case are Thought Questions for problem-based learning and Directed Questions for more intentional instruction; faculty notes and clinical pearls allow the faculty member regardless of training or background to have a level of expertise. Concepts included basic science as well as professionalism, cultural competency, communication, empathy, and evidence-based medicine. Feedback from six recognized medical educators from across the country was very positive, with the major improvement to have a preclinical and clinical version for each case.
Three other critical partners were essential to the success of this project: 1) Incredible authors and peer reviewers from throughout the country encompassing physicians, scientists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants; 2) Production Services- Harleen Chopra and her team at Cenveo Publishers Services in Production was precise in manuscript editing and XML formulation; 3) Digital Platform- Aditya Agarkar and his team at Snapwiz, Inc, constructed the digital platform that places the Teaching Cases at the faculty and students’ fingertips.
We wanted the Teaching Cases to provide faculty with maximum versatility so that they could control the content, to share or not share questions or answers “on the fly”, and to use thought questions or directed questions in any number of ways. Simultaneously, we wanted this tool to be intuitive and easy to use. To accomplish these goals, our team members spent hundreds of hours working through pathways, navigating dead ends, laughing (and some crying too!) about wrong turns. But after some initial missteps, we found that we had an amazing product!
Case Files™: Teaching Cases has been an extraordinarily fulfilling project. We have had the good fortune of working with a team of incredibly talented and committed individuals. Our research, along with current curriculum recommendations supporting case-based learning, clearly validates the need for this product. We thank everyone who persevered through the project, with special acknowledgement to Dr. Toy, whose efforts in shaping and bringing this product to fruition were monumental. We believe that the Teaching Cases has the potential to significantly impact medical education by providing a teacher-driven resource to help students develop analytic and diagnostic thinking skills, while learning professionalism, empathy and compassion. In Dr. Toy's words, our goal is to "help students learn, not just memorize."