Patricia O'Sullivan, MD
Rabkin Fellow in Medical Education
Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Attending Physician in Gerontology, Hebrew Senior Life, Department of Medicine, BIDMC
Online spaced education program to teach and assess knowledge of the physical examination
Dr. Patricia O'Sullivan is a geriatrician at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center (HRC) and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). She attended medical school at the University of Cork, Ireland, and proceeded directly into a Primary Care Residency Program. Upon her graduation, she worked in primary care medicine, geriatric medicine and dermatology. Dr. O'Sullivan then moved to Boston to complete the Harvard Fellowship in Gerontology, with a focus on the clinician-educator track. During the second year of the fellowship she integrated a 360-degree assessment for her fellowship, created and integrated a Boston-wide objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) for interdisciplinary geriatric fellows, and created a web-based module to teach BIDMC residents about systems-based practice. The module was recently published on Association of American Medical College's
MedEd Portal. She continues a connection with the fellowship by teaching and assessing the Harvard Geriatric Fellows. At HRC, Dr. O'Sullivan co-directs the Patient/Doctor II Course for 2nd year Harvard Medical School students. The course teaches history-taking and physical examination skills. She also directs the BIDMC-residents who participate in a geriatric rotation. For HMS, she is in the process of integrating a curriculum on geriatric-specific history and physical examination into the 2nd-year curriculum.
As a Rabkin Fellow, Dr. O'Sullivan worked on developing a web-based curriculum, based on
Bates' Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking, to augment the medical student learning of physical examination, as taught by the Patient/Doctor II Course. In conjunction with Dr. Price Kerfoot, a graduate of the Rabkin Fellowship, she enlisted close to the entire 2nd-year class to participate in a randomized control study of the web-based program. The study design was based on the psychological concept of "spaced learning," the notion that people learn and retain better if teaching is repeated over time. The preliminary success of the study challenges educators to return to the method of "rote" or iterative learning, where knowledge scripts can be easily and efficiently accessed.