Loftus Reflects, Projects on Medical Education During Retirement Event

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A continuing evolution in technology and teaching methods will shape the medical education of the next generation of physicians, according to a retiring OUWB faculty member.

Stephen Loftus, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Basic Medical Studies, is retiring effective July 1. He used a special virtual event held on June 9 to reflect on his career in medical education while projecting future trends.

Loftus joined William Beaumont School of Medicine at Oakland University in November 2013 as an associate professor. He was responsible for faculty development and also participated in a number of courses, particularly medical humanities and Embark research projects.

Douglas Gould, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Basic Medical Studies, reflected on the impact Loftus has had on OUWB.

“Dr. Loftus … was instrumental in transforming (the Department of Basic Medical Studies) into a group of card-holding master educators,” Gould said.

Gould added that Loftus is “a prolific author on medical education and was the cornerstone of the OUWB Medical Education Certificate Program and Fellowship in Medical Education Programs.”

“Dr. Loftus’ impact on OUWB will last for generations and his influence on medical education will be sorely missed.

Loftus said he hopes he has helped raise awareness of the complexities of medical education. He added that he chose OUWB because it was a new school open to new ideas.

“It was a relatively new medical school, I knew they would be more open to trying new ideas,” Loftus said. “That was part of it; being pioneering and innovative.

Mediated reflections, projections

A dental professional with over 20 years of experience in medicine, Loftus has developed an interprofessional online graduate level pain management course at the University of Sydney.

His research on clinical reasoning has been published in several journals and books, such as the well-received “Clinical Reasoning in the Health Professions”. He has also supervised PhD research students at Charles Sturt University in Australia, on topics including clinical reasoning, higher education, and clinician-patient relationships.

Loftus said he started his journey in the dental field but did not consider himself a surgeon. It wasn’t until he discovered the CD-ROM that he fell in love not only with computers but also with the future of educational technology.

“My first job after graduating was going to the University of London and leading a small team that developed computer courseware for medical and dental students,” Loftus said. “And I found it all absolutely fascinating. I had to learn and teach myself to do instructional design. And while I was there, the World Wide Web came along.

Loftus said he thinks there will be a lot more educational technology in medical education and said he thinks people are oversimplifying medical practices by seeing it as knowledge of science and how apply it.

“There’s going to be a lot more integration. I would like to see this: a greater trend towards case-based learning, problem-based learning, team learning, more learning and interaction in small groups. I think these are powerful opportunities for students to really learn what they need to learn,” Loftus said.

To better prepare students to take on their own role in their education, he said OUWB needs to market to them new techniques such as case-based learning, where the approach will help them apply what they learn in the classroom. when meeting patients. Furthermore, he said there was a need to move from a two plus two program to a more integrated program.

“A case-based approach to learning and a problem-based approach to learning helps them do this right from the start,” he said.

Looking back on his time at OUWB, Loftus added that he was very impressed with the course in medical humanities and clinical bioethics, saying he was “one of the best I’ve seen in the world.”

“I really enjoyed the clinical and educational environment. I enjoyed learning more about medical practice,” he added. “[OUWB has] been a great place and a very friendly place…it’s encouraging and encouraging.

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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