The human touch in teaching

During corner stone, the final course in the Yale School of Medicine (YSM) MD program, students were asked to name the faculty member who had the most impact on them. When the results were displayed in a word cloud, Joseph DeMayo, MD, MPH, was one of the names appearing in a large font, indicating that several students had chosen him. DeMayo is a retired geriatrician who has taught Clinical Skills (CS) and Medical coach experience (MCE) as a volunteer teacher for almost ten years.

Nurture students as people

Barry J. Wu, MD, professor of clinical medicine, who directs Capstone and MCE, points out how impressive it is that a volunteer faculty member, who typically engages with students for a short period during the faculty of medicine, have this impact. Wu says it reflects how DeMayo “appreciates that mentoring is so much more than teaching history and physical exam techniques. It nurtures students as people, as human beings.

DeMayo’s approach to mentorship is intentional. While he had great instructors when he was a trainee, DeMayo shares that they didn’t focus on him as a person, and those experiences made him realize he wanted to be a different kind of mentor.

DeMayo got involved in teaching at YSM in 2013, when associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics Jaideep Talwalkar, MD, who leads clinical skills for the MD program, encouraged him to help teach the exam. Physics (EP) to Yale medical students. Physical education involves engaging with a group of four freshmen each week for approximately three hours.

Talwalkar knew DeMayo from St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, CT, where DeMayo taught residents. One thing DeMayo likes about training medical students, compared to residents, is that when you teach learners as they develop their early skills, “you can more effectively change their path.” DeMayo also notes that he taught residents how to make clinical diagnoses; with medical students, he focuses on making them comfortable with the experience of physical examination, including touching a patient, so that they can pass examinations competently and compassionately, gaining confidence patients.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, PE moved to a virtual model due to Yale’s restrictions on gatherings. DeMayo was thrilled when he got back to the person since PE teaching happens, he explains, “in the moment of need” and during a physical exam that often involves touch. If a student feels comfortable, DeMayo will move a student’s hand if it’s not placed correctly when practicing an exam, then perform the exam with them, so they can figure out how to do the exam. ‘exam. DeMayo loves when he can “see the light come on” for students in times like this, when he’s helped students understand a new concept and develop their skills.

Four years ago, DeMayo also began volunteering as a coach for the MCE course. In MCE, four students are paired weekly for about eight months with one or two physicians in a clinical setting, starting in the spring of their freshman year until just before the start of their externship year. When Wu mentioned to him that they needed more MCE coaches, DeMayo said that Wu “didn’t have to ask twice” — DeMayo knew he would find working with students in a hospital setting rewarding. Several of DeMayo’s physical education students asked to join his MCE group, so he was able to spend a year with them. “It was a great experience, to see them apply what they had just learned by practicing PE on each other in a hospital setting with real patients”, and also to see them practice new skills such as case presentation.

Building a Mentoring Relationship

A priority for DeMayo is to make PE and MCE the part of the week his students look forward to. He wants them to feel comfortable so they don’t hesitate because they will only develop the PE skills that make a doctor a doctor by practicing. An example of DeMayo’s success in this regard is reflected in the remarks of Gathe Kiwan, MD ’22, who is beginning her residency in Integrated Interventional Radiology at Yale. Kiwan, who was part of DeMayo’s MCE group, was nervous when he first met him, as Kiwan had no medical background and knew that DeMayo was a seasoned doctor. But Kiwan explains that DeMayo “made it clear from day one that he was there not only to teach us skills, but also to build a mentoring relationship that goes beyond the practical skills needed in the hospital.” DeMayo went out of his way, Kiwan says, “to make sure we felt comfortable and confident when talking and performing physical exam maneuvers,” adding that he was “really curious to learn more about me as a person and to encourage my unique personality to shine as a doctor.

Kiwan is grateful for how DeMayo invited the MCE group to his home to meet his family and even invited them to his daughter’s wedding. Important to Kiwan, this relationship continued beyond MCE: DeMayo attended the fourth-year show, game day, and launch. “I’ve had many teachers and mentors over the years,” Kiwan says, “but the lasting relationship I’ve developed with Dr. DeMayo through my MCE course is definitely one of the things I’ll treasure most. from my experience as a medical student at YSM.

DeMayo’s colleagues share this gratitude and respect. “Students love working with Dr. DeMayo and I think it stems from his commitment to humanistic patient care,” says Talwalkar, describing how DeMayo’s dedication to students in their development as future physicians reflects deep care. that he demonstrates to his patients. “His commitment to teaching and mentoring doesn’t stop when classes end,” adds Talwalkar, noting that DeMayo meets with students for additional sessions outside of class to ensure they’ve mastered the material. , and also “to make sure they are finding some balance in life despite the demands of medical school.

Assistant Professor of Medicine Joe Donroe, MD, MPH, who worked with DeMayo in PE and partnered with him to mentor an MCE group, says DeMayo is always “quick to volunteer his time when we need the support an instructor for our PE sessions”, and “one of the most reliable people I know. Donroe adds that DeMayo “is really a caring person” and “also incredibly wise and knowledgeable. I personally learned a lot working so closely with him and I know the students learned as well.

Thinking back to the word cloud, Wu points out that DeMayo exemplifies the immense value retired doctors can have on the future generation of medical professionals.


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