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GEA Member Spotlight

Carol L. Elam Ed.D.

In 1-2 sentences tell us about yourself.
I have held several positions in our medical education office over the years … working with curriculum and evaluation, student services, admissions, diversity initiatives, medical education research, institutional advancement, and regional campuses. 

How did you get involved in the GEA?
When I started working in medical education, the first professional development meetings that I attended were with the Group on Medical Education (the precursor to the GEA). Then as now, members of the group were very friendly, helpful, and quite willing to give advice and share resources. 

How has the GEA benefited you in your professional role?
My first boss in my medical education office encouraged me to attend AAMC meetings … both nationally and regionally … to present work that I was doing, and to learn what others were doing. That proved to be great advice. GEA has grounded me in trying to maintain a scholarly approach when embarking upon new projects and to evaluate outcomes. Decisions on whether to continue or expand projects are usually data based, and having outcome data in hand that has certainly helped me advocate for initiatives.  

What excites you most in medical education right now?

Over the years I have worked in medical education, the one thing that is constant is change.  In fact, one of my colleagues has a phrase he uses in nearly every talk he makes: Learn to love change. I am intrigued by the advances in technology and the changes in the health system and wonder how that will influence medical practice in the next decade… and what the implications of those changes might be in student and resident education and continuing professional development. I am also interested in how our medical schools engage with their communities and impact the lives of not just our patients, but our citizens. Our institution, for example, is opening regional campuses with the goal of training more graduates who will opt to practice in the state. Finally, I am excited at the prospect of how GEA members can collaborate with other professional development groups both within and outside of AAMC to advance our educational missions.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Ashland, Kentucky, then a town of about 25,000 that was very family friendly with a big emphasis on schools (and sports). With the exception of a nine-month sabbatical at Indiana University, I have lived my life in Kentucky.   

What was the most interesting job or project you have worked on?
When I reflect on my career, I think the best experiences I have had have been collaborative activities. Collaborations on presentations or research projects have led to building collegial relationships and friendships outside of my institution and have broadened my knowledge and perspective. Collaborations within my institution and with colleagues across Kentucky have led to development of pipeline programs to nurture student interest in medicine. And collaborations on research, student organizations, and outreach with some of our medical students have enriched my work and focused my attention on student education and learning.  

What do you do for fun outside of work/school?
I am a sports fan, like to go to plays and to musical performances of all kinds, and enjoy traveling to new places.