New assistant dean joins School of Allied Health Sciences

As the new assistant dean of evaluation and research in the School of Allied Health Sciences at Baylor, Dr. Aimee Gardner will apply principles and experiences she’s gained through her training in industrial and organizational psychology and apply it to the School’s three programs (physician assistant, nurse anesthesia and orthotics and prosthetics).

“Industrial and organizational psychology is the field that applies psychology to the workplace. You study everything from selection, training and development and assessment to leadership, job satisfaction and organizational culture so that organizations will have happy and motivated workers who contribute to a productive workplace,” said Gardner.

While she was still completing graduate school, Gardner received a serendipitous opportunity to work for a regional simulation center in Akron, Ohio. In this role, she provided input based on best practices to the design and evaluation of the simulation-based training programs to optimize effectiveness and learner retention.

Aimee Gardner

Aimee Gardner

From there, she continued her focus on simulation and health professions education in the Department of Surgery at UT Southwestern, where she developed simulation curricula, interprofessional activities, trainee assessments, professional development courses and program evaluations for undergraduate, graduate and faculty learners. She also was able to translate many of these efforts into publications in high quality peer-review journals.

In her new role at Baylor, she hopes to apply her wide array of experiences to a new set of specialties. Her role will entail working with each program within the School of Allied Health Sciences to ensure best practices in program evaluation, promote faculty development and scholarship and develop interprofessional activities. To achieve this last aim, Gardner will work with the surgery department with a secondary faculty appointment here at Baylor on team training activities.

“We’re experiencing a paradigm shift in all facets of health professions education, including how we’re teaching our trainees and how we’re expecting them to learn. Prior to this, it was all based on clinical experience, which can unfortunately result in variability of learning and milestone achievement. Now, the focus of curriculum development and assessment is to ensure uniform competency,” she said. “That can mean that you’re ensuring that trainees have demonstrated certain skills and behaviors while they’re on clinical rotations or it can mean that you’re supplementing their clinical experiences with other training modalities, like simulation and team-based activities.”

Regardless of method, the goal is to ensure our training programs are providing a comprehensive education and that our learners are able to achieve uniform competency. Time to learn may vary, but the outcome needs to be same. That’s why the assessment part is so important; you need frequent assessment to ensure that everyone’s on track.”

Gardner also will continue to work heavily in educational research and scholarship.

“Each of our programs is already extremely well regarded, and part of my role is to help disseminate their innovations and hard work through public presentations and publications,” she said.

Gardner is excited to join Baylor College of Medicine and looks forward to opportunities for collaboration within the College and across the Texas Medical Center.

“Being in the Texas Medical Center is a very special and unique opportunity. I already recognize and appreciate this environment and continue to be in awe of the innovation happening around us,” said Gardner.