Team Launch focuses on building students’ teamwork skills

Baylor College of Medicine is preparing for an on-site visit from representatives from the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) March 22 to 24. The on-site visit is the penultimate step in a multi-year process required for reaffirmation of the College’s accreditation from SACSCOC.

This process has included extensive analysis and reflection by faculty, staff and trainees throughout the College regarding every aspect of our mission. “It is very exciting when you look at our SACSCOC reaffirmation,” said Dr. Paul Klotman, president, CEO and executive dean of Baylor College of Medicine. “One of the great things about a self-reflection process is it really provides us with a window to the future. It has made us all go through a long process to think of what is different about Baylor compared to other organizations.”

Among the many aspects of the College with which SACSCOC is concerned is our commitment to continuously improving education. One of the ways we demonstrate this is through development of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).

“The QEP is a great opportunity for us to identify and implement an initiative designed to better prepare our students for their future careers,” said Dr. Alicia Monroe, provost, senior vice president of academic and faculty affairs and chair of the QEP core leadership team. “We leveraged this requirement to build new opportunities for our students that are good for the students and good for our programs.”

“Team Launch, the topic of Baylor’s QEP, is the result of an 18 month College-wide process,” explained Dr. Nancy Moreno, associate provost of faculty development and institutional research and co-chair of the QEP core leadership team. “We began with a survey that garnered more than 2,400 responses from faculty, staff and trainees.”

The survey and focus groups explored what areas the College needed to strengthen to improve the educational environment. Three topics emerged: critical thinking skills, interdisciplinary learning, and communications and career skills. An interdisciplinary development team explored the intersection of these three areas and settled on team skills as the best way to integrate them into a single experience.

“The benefit of Team Launch is it creates space and opportunity for our students, faculty and staff from all four schools to come together to learn together and for our students not just to learn about teamwork skills but to solve some real world problems and be better prepared for their future careers,” said Monroe.

“When I started in the world of medicine and science we did everything alone,” said Klotman. “In the years since science has gotten much bigger and healthcare has become much more complicated. It is impossible to do everything yourself.”

Successfully working in teams requires the ability to leverage the different perspectives of a variety of people with different backgrounds, experience and skills to create better outcomes than any individual could alone. “That skill has been a long and difficult one for me to build,” noted Dr. Susan Marriott, professor of molecular virology and microbiology and director of the QEP. “I hope that students who participate in Team Launch will have a much faster and easier ability to build those same skills.”

One of the goals of Team Launch is to reinforce the importance of teamwork, a core value of the College’s, campus-wide. Toward this end, Master Classes will be created that will include seminars by leading experts on various topics related to team skills such as communication, conflict resolution and negotiation. These seminars will be open to everyone at the College.

The other two components of Team Launch – Launch Pad and Team Projects – will provide in-depth opportunities for students to learn, implement and demonstrate teamwork skills. This will include working in interdisciplinary teams on real world problems. “These projects are going to have actual outcomes that can be structured in a number of ways,” said Dr. Valerie Christine Bomben, a postdoctoral fellow who has been involved in development of Team Launch. “They might turn into grants. They might turn into an innovation proposal. I think that is going to continue to benefit the Baylor community.”

Learn more about Team Launch.

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