An Argument for Teach-Training: Matthew Mazurek, MD

An Argument for Teach-Training: Matt Mazurek, MD
Matthew Mazurek, MD, attended a program that taught him to be a better teacher. We invited him to tell us more about that concept.

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We first read that Dr. Matthew Mazurek completed a program for “training to teach” on LinkedIn, where his bio reads “Assistant Clinical Professor, Yale School of Medicine and Director, Patient Quality and Safety, St. Raphael’s Campus, Yale New Haven Health. Experienced Leader, Author, Speaker, Consultant.” We’re finding that doctors are networking in that social platform regularly (you can take our Linkedin tutorial here, or join our network to grow in the platform via a Linkedin pod). Incidentally, we also host a monthly networking virtual session, where network-members get to meet each other and collaborate. Dr. Mazurek kindly agreed to have us feature him in a “spotlight” and here’s some of what he shared.  

What do you learn in a program called “Training to Teach in Medicine”?

The program teaches current adult learning theory and practical applications and approaches to teach medical learners in all disciplines—from nursing to pharmacy to medical students and residents. A major focus of the program is developing and practicing the methods taught—from creating engaging presentations, to leading small groups, one-on-one precepting, and how to teach procedures. The program begins with a background on current educational learning theories and how institutions and teachers are now incorporating newer, more effective ways of learning tailored specifically for adults. I intuitively know ‘how’ to teach, but I also knew I could learn and incorporate new and more effective methods. The program (here’s a link) was incredible, and I learned a lot more than I thought I would. After all, we do not know what we do not know.  

Was the program online? In person?

The program is entirely virtual starting with a 3-day online series of lectures and activities followed by two group projects, one individual capstone project and online self-scheduled videos and quizzes. It concludes with another 3-day virtual online event.  

How long was the program? What is the cost?

Approximately 7 months and currently, $7,500.  

You say you’ve been teaching for over 25 years – what’s the biggest draw to doing this?

Both my parents were teachers. My dad taught high school drafting and woodshop, and my mother was a fourth-grade teacher. I enjoyed school, too. For me, teaching is a way to pay it forward to the next generation. It is a fun, engaging way to interact with enthusiastic students and make a profound difference in someone else’s life. Combining teaching with taking care of patients is even more rewarding.  

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Have you had any negative experiences from teaching that you’ve learned a lesson from (and that we can learn from, too)?

Not all students recognize the value of knowledge and learning, and some are frankly antagonistic to it. I encountered this more when I taught high school than I did in any other setting. Despite this challenge, I never gave up on them. That is the lesson for me as much as it is for the student. I am there to assist and guide and show the way—not necessarily tell them the value of knowledge or a skill. Sometimes, social situations or other outside influences impact a student more than a teacher recognizes or realizes. Appreciating the impact of personal and social circumstances is essential. It also shows that you care, and that alone can have a tremendous impact.  

What advice would you give to a physician who’s considering taking on a teaching role? Any specific considerations to weigh?

You have to be passionate about it to do it really well and also realize the reward of teaching is watching students grow and learn. To use a comparison to gardening, I look at the teaching environment as a garden with all of its potential. The students are the seeds. I am one of the gardeners. I am there to help provide the water and help them grow. It is a huge time commitment, and it is a personal commitment. It is important to realize, too, there are a variety of ways to teach, especially in medicine. One can provide occasional lectures, lead small groups, precept one-on-one, provide online courses, etc. Using modern technology and techniques, the options are endless. If one decides to teach, it is important to explore why you want to teach, who you want to teach, and how you want to teach. It is quite easy to overextend if one is not careful.  

“I look at the teaching environment as a garden with all of its potential. The students are the seeds. I am one of the gardeners.”


You teach courses on emotional intelligence. What is the number one lesson that’s most useful to practicing physicians in this field?

It is important for physicians to recognize that understand the four domains of emotional intelligence–self- awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Self-management is managing our emotional response to stressful situations and reacting appropriately. It is a powerful tool to use as a physician leader. Additionally, our professional lives are all about how we manage relationships with others. We often have to shift gears when communicating with others, for example. Using the same techniques or approaches in a universal manner is not always effective.  

Are there different useful lessons in emotional intelligence to doctors in training?

Many of the lessons I teach I demonstrate through role play and discussion. It is quite valuable to watch or participate in a fabricated situation and role play the ‘angry’ doctor or ‘frustrated’ patient or demonstrate how to communicate a concern or disappointment. In these controlled settings, nothing is on the line other than learning exactly how to behave and what to say. Having a keen awareness of emotional intelligence concepts and principles is foundational to communication, professionalism, expressing empathy, and leadership.   It is quite valuable to watch or participate in a fabricated situation and role play the ‘angry’ doctor or ‘frustrated’ patient or demonstrate how to communicate a concern or disappointment. Click To Tweet  

You earned a BA in English literature – do you feel the skills you learned through that degree help with what you do now, as a physician?

Great question. I was originally a physics major and switched to English literature with a focus on creative writing—specifically poetry. My plans for a career in astrophysics forever changed after I took an Introduction to Literature course from the late Philip Levine, who became Poet Laureate in 2011. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. The reason his course influenced me so much was due to the fact he was brutally honest while grading my papers. Some of my papers were terrible, and he spoke plainly telling me how bad some of my arguments were. That lit a fire in me like no other. The major requires a very deep dive into critical analysis, communication through class discussions, and in-depth analysis through writing. As a physician, effectively analyzing and communicating large volumes of information is a critical skill. Studying poetry taught me the power of the written word, and the spoken word is no less powerful. Florence Scovel Shinn authored a book titled Your Word is Your Wand in 1928. This simple book of affirmations contains transformative concepts about how we use language to shape our lives. When I was a medical student at UCSF, I was part of an informal gathering of students, faculty, and staff called Poets on Parnassus. Sharing our experiences as physicians in poems, short stories, and novels offers one to powerfully express what a life in medicine is like. Additionally, my English degree provided me the skills to write and speak more effectively, think more critically, and be more creative. I use these skills every day, and constantly write. Currently, I have three book projects in the works—my first collection of poems, a case-based study guide for anesthesia residents, and a post-graduate career guide for physicians. Eventually, I will write a historical fiction novel with a physician as the protagonist.  

What’s your favorite all-time book? Why?

Walt Whitman’s collection of poems, Leaves of Grass, is my favorite. After publication in 1855, it was banned and condemned as ‘obscene,’; however, it remains the single most influential and important piece of American literature ever written. The work itself used language in new and novel ways, and Whitman influenced the work of hundreds of poets for many decades, including myself. Whitman’s radical poetics are a kind of distinct and distinctive American voice.  

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You’re active on LinkedIn. Any tips for those dabbing?

LinkedIn was created as a networking, job seeking site. It has morphed into something else entirely, and increasingly, as a brand or ‘value’ creation portal to connect beyond just work. For many professionals, LinkedIn profiles are no longer optional, and prospective employers will examine profiles using search engines to look for pools of candidates. As for physicians, specifically, it is important to know exactly how you want to use LinkedIn. Is it to share ideas, look for new opportunities, promote a side business, or just use as a blog? Create an engaging profile and do not forget to include all of your titles after your name. Second, if you want to create a network, start writing, connecting, and commenting. However, this is not Facebook. It is unlike any of the other social media platforms. Maintain decorum, respect, and do not post inappropriate jokes, commentary, or make inflammatory comments about people or organizations. More importantly–have fun with it! Writing original articles or short blogs is an interesting way to engage others and get public feedback, too. My concern as AI begins to ‘tailor’ content toward member is there will be siloing of networks. For example, if a user likes or comments on a post, AI can use this information to show a member more content that is similar. Conversely, not liking some content will generate less views, etc.  

Want to leave us with your bio?

Dr. Matt Mazurek was born and raised in Fresno, California and earned his BA in English Literature at Fresno State before attending medical school at UCSF. After completing his anesthesia residency at UCSF, he joined Southern Arizona Anesthesia Services, PC in Tucson, Arizona as a partner in private practice. He was elected Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at St. Mary’s Hospital in Tucson and then served as Chief-of-Staff, Elect and Chief-of-Staff. Subsequently, he took a position as Medical Director with Envision Physician Services at Sanford Health-Bemidji Medical Center in northern Minnesota. His leadership interests led him to pursue further education and he obtained an MHA from Colorado State University, completion of the CPE through the American Association for Physician Leadership, FACHE certification through the American College of Healthcare Executives, and Fellowship in the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He has taught hundreds of medical students, residents, and CRNAs throughout his career and held numerous faculty appointments with six different medical schools. He has a keen interest in patient quality and safety and now holds a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the Yale School of Medicine and is Medical Director of Patient Quality and Safety at the St. Raphael’s Campus for Yale New Haven Health. Additionally, he is a Faculty Member of the American Association for Physician Leadership and teaches courses on emotional intelligence and managing physician behavior and conduct.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.


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