Aquifer Plans Palliative Care Course

Made Possible by a Grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations

Aquifer is pleased to announce plans to develop an online course on Principles and Practice of Excellence in Palliative Care, designed for undergraduate health professions students, made possible by a grant award from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. The goal of this project is to build a practice-ready healthcare workforce that knows the principles of palliative care and can use them to deliver high value, compassionate care to chronically ill patients using a shared mental model. 

The Principles and Practice of Excellence in Palliative Care will fill an important gap in healthcare professional training. Despite the existence of published competencies for teaching palliative care principles to undergraduate healthcare professional students, most existing online palliative care training is aimed at continuing medical education. Multiple medical specialties, including internal medicine, surgery, and cardiology describe a critical need to formalize training for physicians in training. (Edwards A, Nam S; Crousillat DR, Keeley BR, et al; Wancata LM, Hinshaw DB, Suwanabol PA).  A recent bill passed in the US House of Representatives and currently with the US Senate has addressed the need to fund palliative care training. (https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/647).

Aquifer will leverage our collaborative network of educators and partners, trusted pedagogy and content, and widely used teaching and learning platform to deliver quality online training that addresses critical gaps in palliative care learning across undergraduate healthcare education. The new course will address the clear need for standardized educational curricula on palliative care.

The palliative care course development will be led by Dr. Sherilyn Smith, Aquifer Chief Academic Officer and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington, and Dr. Mandi Sehgal, Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Program Director, Cleveland Clinic Florida Clinical Affiliate Professor, Florida Atlantic University Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine.  Initial work is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2020. 

 “The grant award from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations enables us to begin the collaborative work of developing standardized curriculum and clinical learning tools for palliative care,” said Sherilyn Smith, MD. “We are honored to be working toward supporting students and faculty with the resources they need to make a real difference in improving patient care in this critical area.”


Aquifer is a unique non-profit organization deeply committed to driving innovation in clinical teaching and learning. Used in 97% of U.S. allopathic medical schools, 66% of U.S. osteopathic programs, and a growing number of physician assistant, and nurse practitioner programs—with over 15 million virtual patient cases completed since our founding in 2006—Aquifer is a leader in clinical learning.

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations were established in 1952 by former ALCOA chairman, Arthur Vining Davis. Grounded in Arthur Vining Davis’s principled and innovative leadership in national corporate life and philanthropy, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations strengthen America’s intellectual life, humane instincts, and democracy through philanthropic support for private higher education, public educational media, interfaith leadership and religious literacy, the environment, and palliative care.

Aquifer’s Statement of Solidarity

Aquifer stands in solidarity with our healthcare professional colleagues and students around the United States as we work to alleviate the racial and healthcare disparities that continue to be a critical public health issue in our country.

As the leading provider of online health professions education teaching and learning tools, we feel a deep responsibility to ensure that our educational materials do not perpetuate stereotypes in healthcare and education, our courses incorporate contemporary teaching about social determinants of health and structural factors leading to bias, and that we actively promote equitable healthcare education for underrepresented student populations.

We have been dedicated to these ideals from the onset, but there is always more work to be done. Our specific next step actions will include:

  1. Certify that all of our consortium members and Aquifer staff have completed anti-bias education by September 30, 2020.
  2. Continue to use our previously published curricular checklist to ensure contemporary teaching about structural and social determinants of health in our ongoing case maintenance process
  3. Create a new leadership position within our Educators Consortium to accelerate our plans to:
    1. More fully address social and structural determinants of health and bias in our current educational materials;
    2. Ensure that all new materials meet the Aquifer standards of excellence in this content area;
    3. Advance feedback and communication mechanisms explicitly addressing racism and healthcare disparities.
  4. Actively seek new partnerships to develop sustainable educational systems to support underrepresented student populations.
  5. Provide ongoing communication to our stakeholders about our work in these areas

We are dedicated to the success of our learners and their future patients and accept the responsibility to address these issues in a respectful, inclusive, humble, and sustained manner that reflects our core values and that of the healthcare profession in which we serve.

Sherilyn Smith, MD
Aquifer Chief Academic Officer
Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington

Leslie Fall, MD
Aquifer Chief Executive Officer

Grant Support for Full Course Library Subscriptions

As the pandemic stretches on, Aquifer recognizes the enormous financial and curricular challenges medical and health professions programs will continue to face for the foreseeable future. To support programs beyond our free access offers (expiring June 30), Aquifer has created a new grant program to help offset the cost of accessing the full Aquifer course library for the 2020-21 subscription year beginning July 1. Our partners at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine are offering a grant towards subscriptions to both WISE courses as well.

Aquifer was proud to provide 489 programs with free access through June 30 as part of our initial COVID-19 response. We believe that maintaining access to the full library of courses will provide the curricular flexibility needed to continue adapting and innovating as the next academic year unfolds.

Grants options include:

  • Aquifer Full Course Library Grant includes all Aquifer Signature courses (Aquifer Family Medicine, Geriatrics, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Radiology).
  • WISE Full Course Library Grant includes both WISE-MD (Surgery) and WISE-OnCall (Readiness for Practice).
  • Aquifer + WISE Full Course Library Grant includes all the courses in the two options above.

Grants are available to current subscribers as well as programs that have been using Aquifer content via the free access we provided through June 30 as part of our initial COVID-19 response. Deadlines and grant details are specific to each program. The Grant Request Process is managed by the person at each program who is in charge of the Aquifer account, known as the Program Service Administrator. Faculty and administrators at eligible programs should contact their Program Service Administrator with any questions. If you are not sure who your Program Service Administrator is, please submit a support ticket.

Webinar: Best Practices for Medical Education

In this interactive webinar session we explored best practices for integrating Aquifer into Allopathic and Osteopathic Medical Education. This session is designed for faculty and administrators who are new to Aquifer and those looking to improve how they are using the cases.

This free webinar was be led by:

Sherilyn-Smith-MD

Sherilyn Smith, MD

Aquifer Chief Academic Officer
Professor of Pediatrics
University of Washington School of Medicine

Leslie H. Fall, MD

Aquifer Chief Executive Officer
Adjunct Professor at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Erik Langenau, DO, MS

Associate Professor
Chief Academic Technology Officer – Department of Professional Development and Online Learning
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Mandi Sehgal, MD

Aquifer Geriatrics Teaching & Learning Lead
Associate Professor
Florida Atlantic University Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine

Barbara Capozzi, DO

Clinical Dean
Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, New York

Karen McDonough, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine
University of Washington School of Medicine

The learning objectives for this webinar included:

  • Learn the pedagogical design of Aquifer cases to support clinical reasoning development
  • Learn best practices for integrating Aquifer in allopathic and osteopathic medical education.
  • Breakout sessions to learn tips and tricks for using Aquifer cases in:
    • Osteopathic clinical education
    • Allopathic clinical education
    • Preclinical education
  • Question and answer session
Webinar Recording Available

Thank you to the 86+ medical educators who joined us on May 27, 2020, at 4 PM for our webinar, Best Practices for Integrating Aquifer in Medical Education. 

Schedule a Peer Consultation

Educator-to-educator support for faculty

Did you miss the webinar? Or do you still have questions? Schedule a personalized, academic-focused session with an experienced medical educator who actively uses Aquifer in a variety of learning environments with different levels of learners.

Webinar: Best Practices with Learner Level Access

Best Practices for Integrating Aquifer with Learner Level Access

May 20, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.

This webinar covered best practices for integrating Aquifer into the curriculum for programs with learner-level access, the difference between Aquifer individual and institutional subscriptions, and will offer breakouts with tips specific for Nurse Practitioner education programs, graduate and undergraduate medical schools as well as other health professions.

The webinar was led by:
  • Sherilyn Smith, MD
    Aquifer Chief Academic Officer
    Professor of PediatricsUniversity of Washington School of Medicine
  • Joyce Cappiello, PhD
    Associate Professor of Nursing
    University of New Hampshire

  • Donna Pelletier, DNP
    Clinical Associate Professor of Nursing
    University of New Hampshire

  • Linda Eastham, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC
    Assistant Professor of Nursing
    University of Virginia

Webinar Recordings & Slides Available

Schedule a Peer Consultation

Educator-to-educator support for faculty

Did you miss the webinar? Or do you still have questions? Schedule a personalized, academic-focused session with an experienced medical educator who actively uses Aquifer in a variety of learning environments with different levels of learners.

Webinar: Best Practices for Using Aquifer in PA Programs

We invite you to join us for an interactive session exploring the best strategies and methods for integrating Aquifer cases into your Physician Assistant courses or curriculum. This session is designed for faculty and administrators who are new to Aquifer and those looking to improve how they are using the cases.

This free webinar will be led by:

Cindy Lord, MHS, PA-C
Cynthia Lord, MHS, PA-C

Program Director and Associate Professor
Physician Assistant Program
Case Western Reserve University

Sherilyn-Smith-MD
Sherilyn Smith, MD

Aquifer Chief Academic Officer

Professor of Pediatrics
University of Washington School of Medicine

Webinar Recording Available

Thank you to the 140+ PA educators who joined us on April 29, 2020, at 3 PM for our webinar, Best Practices for Integrating Aquifer into Physician Assistant Education.


This session covered:

  • Learn the pedagogical underpinning of Aquifer cases and how they are designed to support the development of clinical reasoning skills

  • Explore best practices for optimizing your use of Aquifer

  • Join a break out session based on your area of interest:

    • Tips for using Aquifer cases in clinical education

    • Tips for using Aquifer cases in didactic courses

    • Finding the cases you want and building custom courses

  • Ask questions and learn what additional resources are available

Schedule a Peer Consultation

Educator-to-educator support for faculty

Did you miss the webinar? Or do you still have questions? Schedule a personalized, academic-focused session with an experienced medical educator who actively uses Aquifer in a variety of learning environments with different levels of learners.

COVID-19 Response: Free Access Extended to New Programs

In continued response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the mounting need for trusted and proven online resources to support clinical learning, we are very pleased to let you know that Aquifer is extending our offer of free access to 146 Aquifer cases and both WISE courses to all North American medical schools and physician assistant programs—regardless of whether or not they are current subscribers—through June 30, 2020.

Aquifer’s COVID-19 Response includes access for your students, faculty, and staff to:

  • 146 cases in Aquifer’s COVID-19 Response course:
  • WISE Courses (Distributed by Aquifer on behalf of the NYU Grossman School of Medicine)
  • Aquifer’s five free courses, including 29 free cases on key topics.
  • Aquifer’s teaching and learning platform for progress tracking, curriculum planning, and user management.

Over the past two weeks, more than 125 health professions institutions with current Aquifer subscriptions have taken advantage of our free expanded access, and that number continues to grow daily. We have worked quickly to aggressively upgrade our server capacity and extend our support staff and hours to meet the growing demands. These rapid-scale improvements to our infrastructure have enabled us to extend our offer at this time.

Access requests for current subscribers opened on March 12 and will remain open through June. Request forms for those who do not have a current Aquifer subscription are targeted to open on March 26. Our goal is to begin providing access to new medical and physician assistant institutional programs no later than Monday, March 30, on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that access may take 3-5 days from your application date depending on the volume of requests. More details are available at aquifer.org/new-programs-covid-19-response/. However, our staffing resources remain limited and we ask your patience as we push to meet your needs.

For over 15 years, our courses have provided health professions schools with the online learning platform, curriculum, reporting, and educator resources needed to meet LCME and other national accreditation requirements specifically to fill gaps in clinical learning and to supplement patient care experiences. We are deeply proud that our history of collaborative work with many of your national student education organizations may help you rise to the unprecedented and unforeseen challenges we are all facing today.

To further support you and your colleagues who may wish additional support integrating Aquifer cases into your curriculum, we are also offering one-on-one peer consultations, led by members of the Aquifer Educators Consortium.

We hope this will help in some small way to alleviate some of the difficulties you—our colleagues—and your students are facing in these unprecedented times.

 

Sherilyn Smith, MD
Aquifer Chief Academic Officer
Professor of Pediatrics and Infectious Disease
University of Washington School of Medicine

Leslie Fall, MD
Aquifer Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer

New North American Medical Schools and Physicial Assistant Programs
Current Subscribers
Non-subscribing Nurse Practitioner, International, and Other Programs

COVID-19 Response: Filling Emerging Gaps

Colleagues,

As the COVID-19 outbreak expands, student access to patient care is being restricted with unprecedented scope. The uncertainty of this evolving situation is impacting student opportunities to learn and heightening concerns about the vulnerability and quality of student education. Aquifer is committed to helping you meet this challenge, and to support you as you stretch to care for both your students and for your community’s patient population. To do our part during this difficult time, Aquifer is offering access to 146 cases and WISE-MD to our subscribing schools at no additional charge through June 30, 2020.

Rising to Meet Your Emerging Online Learning Needs

Aquifer’s virtual patient cases about core clinical conditions, developed by your colleagues to meet your national educational objectives, are—by design—available to fill the gaps you are experiencing in your student’s clinical training. We want you to be able to take full advantage of your Aquifer cases during this outbreak to help supplement clinical experiences that your students may be lacking due to access restrictions. Whether your students are impacted in the pre-clerkship phase and unable to attend preceptorships, or in the clinical phase and restricted from the inpatient units, clinics, operating or radiology reading rooms, we are here for you.

If you need more content than is currently available in your subscription in order to temporarily support impacted learners, we are taking the unprecedented step of providing free access to 146 Aquifer signature cases and WISE-MD through June 30, 2020, to all current Aquifer institutional subscribers. This includes:

Additional course access will be provided by request only and will require completion of a short application available starting on Thursday, March 12th at aquifer.org/covid19. The purpose of the application is to provide us with some additional details required to meet the needs at your school. The application must be completed by the single point of contact for your program’s Aquifer subscription, *|PSA|*.

Leveraging Trusted Tools

Remember, Aquifer’s searchable case library can help you search across all available cases by diagnosis, presenting problem, system, and more to find the cases you need to fill your emerging gaps. Our custom course feature is available to then help you build courses and assign cases to individual students or groups.

As medical educators ourselves, we understand the challenges you are facing are extraordinary and we here to support you and your students. We hope that these additional resources will alleviate some of the difficulties your students may face. We will be sending an update when the application for additional content is available. In the meantime, please visit aquifer.org/covid19 for additional details, updates, and training on using the learning tools and content available with your subscription.

Sincerely,

Sherilyn Smith, MD
Aquifer Chief Academic Officer
Professor of Pediatrics and Infectious Disease
University of Washington School of Medicine

Leslie Fall, MD
Aquifer Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer

Aquifer Launches Student Advisory Group

Aquifer-Student-Advisory-Group

Aquifer is excited to announce the launch of our Student Advisory Group. This newly formed board of medical and health professions students will provide essential feedback on Aquifer’s new learning tools.

Helping Build the Best Possible Tools for Clinical Learning

Aquifer is in the process of developing new assessments, Integrated Illness Scripts, cases, and other learning tools. Student voices and ideas are critical to ensure that our solutions provide the most value to students.

Student Advisory Group members are invited to preview and provide honest, in-depth feedback on Aquifer’s new developing learning tools, designed to be used in medical and health professions programs across the country. Feedback from this group will be used to optimize the technology and content in our tools, inform communications, and develop training resources.

After a competitive selection process, we are pleased to welcome a strong group of students from institutions around the country:

  • Julie Chew, United States University Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Parissa Ferguson, Bryant University Physician Assistant Program
  • Timothy Fisher, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University 
  • Philip Jurasinski, Des Moines University
  • Priya Kantesaria, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
  • Hope Knochenhauer, Duke University School of Medicine 
  • Andres Lopez, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine 
  • Brienna Milleson, Saint Louis University School of Medicine
  • Wafa Nabi, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • Evgeniya Rakitina, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
  • Yana Salei, Florida Atlantic University Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine 
  • Sapna Syal, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • Georgia Vasilakis, West Virginia University School of Medicine

The Student Advisory Group will work closely with the medical educators of the Aquifer Student Engagement Group, a working group of the Aquifer Educators Consortium, along with the teams developing Aquifer’s new learning tools. The Aquifer Student Engagement Group is led by Katherine Chretien, MD (Associate Dean for Student Affairs; George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences) and Jennifer Bierman, MD (Clerkship Director, Education Centered Medical Home; Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine).


Aquifer—a unique non-profit organization—makes a big impact on medical and health professions education. Used in 95% of U.S. allopathic medical schools, 66% of U.S. osteopathic programs, and a growing number of physician assistant, and nurse practitioner programs—with over 13 million virtual patient cases completed since our founding in 2006—Aquifer is a leader in clinical learning.

Multiple-Choice Exams Extended to June 2022

Family Medicine – Pediatrics – Radiology

Aquifer’s online multiple-choice exams will now be available for Family Medicine, Pediatrics, and Radiology through June 30, 2022. We are pleased to offer this extension to current exam users to help facilitate a smooth transition to alternative assessments, including our new formative assessments which are in development.


Formative Assessments in Development

Pilot Testing Planned for Early 2021

In development for Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Radiology, Internal Medicine

Aquifer’s new formative assessments will combine the concepts of test-enhanced learning and distributed practice to help build more efficient, effective learners. The new assessments will be:

  • Single best-answer multiple-choice exams with a certainty rating for each question.
  • Shorter assessments that can be given twice during a clerkship or course.
  • 25-45 questions long and designed to take approximately 1 hour to complete.
  • Easy to administer (no proctoring required). Assigned students complete the exam on their own or as directed by their program.
  • Comprehensive and mapped to learning objectives and teaching points in Aquifer cases, which cover the national curriculum for STFM, AUR, COMSEP, and CDIM.
  • Developed, written, and peer-reviewed by teams of trained medical educators.
Project Status

Aquifer plans to enter a robust pilot testing phase for Family Medicine, Pediatrics, and Radiology in early 2021. Internal Medicine pilot testing plans are TBD.

LEARN MORE & VIEW LATEST UPDATES

2019 COMSEP Grant Awards Supported by Aquifer

Aquifer is pleased to congratulate the recipients of the 2019 COMSEP (Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics) Grant Program awards. The COMSEP Grant Program is funded in part by an annual educational grant from Aquifer to support advancing academic research in medical education.

As a non-profit organization, Aquifer is proud to continue funding this important work through COMSEP which aligns directly with our mission of advancing healthcare education through collaborative development and research into innovative, high-impact virtual teaching and learning methods. The COMSEP Grant Program promotes and supports innovative educational scholarship that is designed, implemented, and evaluated by COMSEP members.

Aquifer joins COMSEP in congratulating the 2019 COMSEP Grant Program recipients on the advancement of their research:

Nathan Gollehon, MD, University of Nebraska Medical Center

The Effect of CMS Guidelines on the Development of Medical Student Documentation Skills

This project focuses on assessing the impact of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rule change that allows student medical notes to be used by their preceptors for billing. Surveys and focus groups have been conducted to understand the impact of this change on learning and perceptions and experiences with student documentation. Investigators have submitted abstracts to present this work at the 2020 COMSEP Annual Meeting, with plans underway for publication submissions.

Molly Rideout, MD, University of Vermont Medical Center

The Effect of Pediatric Boot Camps on Performance in Early Internship

This study works to clarify whether pediatric-specific boot camp improves intern performance during the initial months of pediatric internships, and whether any difference persists at six months. Results will include faculty evaluations on interns from residency programs (17 are enrolled to date). Preliminary results will be presented at the COMSEP Annual Meeting in March 2020. This project is a joint project between COMSEP and APPD LEARN.

Aquifer (formerly MedU) has partnered with COMSEP since the 2006 launch of Aquifer Pediatrics (formerly CLIPP), which delivers on the learning objectives of the COMSEP curriculum. Aquifer’s grant program supports academic advancement through a series of partnerships with key national educator organizations. Working with our partners ensures that our grant dollars support initiatives that advance our mission and serve the needs of educators and students around the country. In 2019, Aquifer awarded grants totaling $65,000 a year to our national partner organizations:

Aquifer looks forward to the results of the 2019 COMSEP Grant Program projects and continuing to work with our partners to drive innovation in healthcare education.


Aquifer is a mission-driven non-profit organization dedicated to delivering the best healthcare education through collaborative development and research into innovative, high-impact virtual teaching and learning methods. Aquifer develops trusted, award-winning, virtual case-based courses derived from national healthcare curricula. Since Aquifer’s founding in 2006, over 13 million virtual cases have been completed by more than 300,000 students.

Call for Participation: Student Advisory Group

Medical & Health Professions Students: Join Us

Aquifer is excited to announce a new opportunity to join a national board of interprofessional students tasked with providing critical feedback on the development of Aquifer’s new learning tools. Medical, physician assistant, and nurse practitioner students are invited to apply to serve on the new Student Advisory Board.

Aquifer—a unique non-profit organization—makes a big impact on medical and health professions education. Used in 95% of U.S. allopathic medical schools, 66% of U.S. osteopathic programs, and a growing number of physician assistant, and nurse practitioner programs—with over 13 million virtual patient cases completed since our founding in 2006—Aquifer is a leader in clinical learning.

Help us build the best possible tools to advance your clinical learning. 

Aquifer is in the process of developing new assessments, cases, and other learning tools. Student voices and ideas are needed to ensure that our solutions provide the most value to students.

Selected students will be invited to preview and provide honest, constructive feedback on Aquifer’s new developing learning tools, designed to be used in medical and health professions programs across the country. Feedback from this group will be used to optimize the technology and content in our tools, inform communications, and develop training resources. 

Work will include:

  • Completing up to 1 hour of pre-work in advance of each quarterly meeting.
    • Previewing a new learning tool via interactive demo, watching a screencast, or reading/viewing a presentation.
    • Completing a preliminary survey with your initial feedback. 
  • Attending a 1-hour Zoom meeting quarterly to discuss and learn more about different aspects of the learning tools. Meetings will be scheduled on weekday evenings; tentatively scheduled in January, April, July, and October.

Student Advisory Group members will have the option to apply to attend the Aquifer Educator Consortium’s Annual Meeting in early October in Portsmouth, NH. Attendance is not required; an open application process will be announced in the late spring/early summer. Students who are selected to attend will have travel expenses paid.

A letter of recognition is available by request.


Eligibility

The Aquifer Student Engagement Group is accepting applications from students who meet the following requirements:

  • Medical students from MD or DO programs who are in their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th year

 OR

  • Physician assistant and Nurse Practitioner students who are in the clinical phase of their training.

AND

  • Interest in medical and health professions education.
  • Prepared to give honest, thoughtful feedback in a constructive manner.
  • Able to commit to completing all pre-work assignments and attending at least three out of four quarterly meetings (January – October 2020).

Application Process

If you are interested, please complete our short online application below by December 4, 2019. Students will be notified of their status by January 1. Please contact Karey Waters, Aquifer Communications and Insights Manager, with any questions.

Thank you, 

Aquifer Student Engagement Co-Leads

Katherine Chretien, MD
Associate Dean for Student Affairs
George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences

Jennifer Bierman, MD
Clerkship Director, ECMH (Education Centered Medical Home)
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


Applications have closed. Thank you for your interest.

Call for Participation: Aquifer Physician Assistant Task Force

Make an Impact: Work with Aquifer to Advance Medical Education

Aquifer—a unique non-profit organization dedicated to advancing healthcare education—is excited to announce the creation of a Physician Assistant Task Force. This group will bring the voice, interests, and experiences of physician assistant educators to Aquifer, and work to develop faculty development materials and teaching tools for physician assistant educators using Aquifer courses.

This is an exciting opportunity to participate in a scholarly project on a national level and advance healthcare education through collaboration. With over 12 million virtual patient cases completed since our founding in 2006, Aquifer is the leader in developing clinical teaching and learning tools.


Our Reach

Working with Aquifer, your work will make a big impact on physician assistant education. A growing number of physician assistant programs are putting Aquifer’s trusted, rigorous clinical learning tools to work for their students. Aquifer courses are also used in 95% of U.S. allopathic medical schools.


Aquifer Physician Assistant Task Force Details

Why: To further develop Aquifer’s teaching and learning resources as a valuable tool for physician assistant educators.

Who: This is an open invitation to all physician assistant educators who use Aquifer courses. The group will be supported by Aquifer staff and led by:

  • Cynthia Booth Lord, MHS, PA-C
    Program Director and Associate Professor, Physician Assistant Program, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • Sherilyn Smith, MD
    Aquifer Academic Director for Engagement and Scholarship
    Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine

What: The Aquifer Physician Assistant Task Force will:

  • Provide input to Aquifer leadership regarding the priorities and unique needs of physician assistant programs
  • Develop and review faculty materials to support the use of Aquifer cases in the physician assistant curriculum

When: The Task Force will work actively for approximately 6 months, with work starting in early 2020. Work will include:

  • Monthly video conference calls
  • Working offline on prioritized projects, with work reviewed by the group on monthly calls.

The first meeting of the Task Force will take place at PAEA on Friday, October 11 from 12 PM to 12:50 PM in Park Tower Suite 8219 at the Washington Marriott-Wardman Park Hotel. Lunch will be provided. The goal of the meeting will be to identify the top priorities for developing educator materials to support student use of the Aquifer cases from the perspectives of interested group members.

If you are interested in joining or learning more about the Physician Assistant Task Force, please let us know by contacting Leah Romano, Aquifer Relationship Manager.

We look forward to working with you to better serve the needs of physician assistant educators and students.

Thank You,

Cynthia Booth Lord, MHS, PA-C
Program Director and Associate Professor, Physician Assistant Program, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Sherilyn Smith, MD
Aquifer Academic Director for Engagement and Scholarship
Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine

Leslie Fall, MD
Aquifer Executive Director & Chief Academic Officer

Developing Evidence-Based Formative Assessments

Delivering Efficient, Effective Learning

Today’s medical and health professions students have no time to waste. Demands on their time are only increasing as they strive to become excellent clinicians while balancing the need to achieve the outstanding grades and test scores that are required for the next steps in their education and career paths.

At Aquifer, we wondered: How can we help without compromising our dedication to supporting high-quality, comprehensive clinical learning?

Last year, we began our journey to create the first nationally-developed comprehensive formative assessments for health professions students. The goal is to give students—and faculty—tools for focused learning and maximum efficiency. Aquifer’s formative assessment strategy is based on the proven concepts of test-enhanced learning combined with focused, repetitive practice.

Test-Enhanced Learning

Test-enhanced learning in health professions education is a pedagogical approach in which students are continuously assessed and re-assessed as a formative process. Test-enhanced learning is the result of the ongoing evolution from assessment of learning to assessment for learning (Schuwirth and Van der Vleuten 2011).

Research has shown that the “retrieval practice” of taking multiple formative assessments over time enhances students’ ability to recall, retain, and apply information over traditional study methodology. The effects are consistent for all health professions, learner levels, formats and learning outcomes (Green et al 2018). Test-enhanced learning is useful for helping students identify relatively weaker areas in need of further study, as well as areas of relative strength on which to build further, allowing for more focused and efficient study methods. Test-enhanced learning has also been shown to improve overall student study behaviors and aid in metacognition.

Focused, Repetitive Practice

Research demonstrates that student study habits and practice over time greatly influences knowledge retention and transfer to new problems. How does test-enhanced learning differ from what currently happens in most schools? Traditionally, students are exposed to new material in a classroom, lab, or assignment–and then move on to learning other new material. Students only go back and review all the material just before a summative mid-term or final exam is looming on the horizon.

On the other hand, research has shown that spaced, or distributed practice, is much more effective. This approach requires recalling information repeatedly over shorter intervals throughout a course of study. Long term retention has been found to be four times greater with spaced learning (Kerfoot). By frequently revisiting information, students can develop purposeful study habits based on evidence.

Aquifer’s Evidence-Based Approach

In our recent survey of Course and Clerkship Directors, more than half said they would require a high-quality formative assessment if one were available. These educators expressed a desire to provide students with immediate, granular feedback, and identified a clear gap: there is no nationally-available assessment designed for formative use in clinical education.

Aquifer is combining the concepts of test-enhanced learning and distributed practice to create shorter, more frequent assessments for learning. Our new formative assessment program will provide students with individualized performance reports and granular feedback that outlines specific learning objectives and teaching points that have been mastered or may require additional study, in addition to direct links to case content for focused self-directed learning.

To make this process more efficient for faculty and administrators, Aquifer will identify which students are performing at an expected level as well as those who may be at risk. A cohort summary report will identify specific learning objectives and teaching points that may require additional attention for all students to facilitate curriculum planning.

Addressing the Competence Gap

In addition to answering the single-best answer multiple-choice questions, students will also rate how certain they feel about the accuracy of their answer for each question. Performance reports will identify specific areas of mastery and uncertainty, as well as potential knowledge gaps and misconceptions in order to support student study plans. Reports will also provide each student with feedback on their current ‘cognitive competence’—an objective calibration of their perceived certainty and the accuracy of their answers. With time and repeated testing, students become armed with a more accurate picture of their current level of understanding and can establish targeted learning goals and study plans to meet their individual needs.

Learn More

Aquifer is actively developing this new formative assessment program to accompany our Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Radiology courses. We expect to begin a robust pilot testing program in Spring of 2020.

Baghdady M, Carnahan H, Lam EW, Woods NN. 2014. Test-enhanced learning and its effect on comprehension and diagnostic accuracy. Med Educ. 48:181–188. • Cook DA, Thompson WG, Thomas KG. 2014. Test-enhanced web-based learning: optimizing the number of questions (a randomized crossover trial). Acad Med. 89:169–175.

Fitch ML, Drucker AJ, Norton JA, Jr. 1951. Frequent testing as a motivating factor in large lecture classes. J Educ Psychol. 42:1–20. • Karpicke J, Grimaldi P. 2012. Retrieval-based learning: a perspective for enhancing meaningful learning. Educ Psychol Rev. 24:401–418.

Karpicke JD, Butler AC, Roediger HL, III. 2009. Metacognitive strategies in student learning: do students practise retrieval when they study on their own? Memory. 17:471–479.

Kromann CB, Bohnstedt C, Jensen ML, Ringsted C. 2010. The testing effect on skills learning might last 6 months. Adv Health Sci Educ. 15:395–401.

Kromann CB, Bohnstedt C, Jensen ML, Ringsted C. 2010. The testing effect on skills learning might last 6 months. Adv Health Sci Educ. 15:395–401.

Larsen DP, Butler AC, Roediger HL,III. 2009. Repeated testing improves long-term retention relative to repeated study: a randomised controlled trial. Med Educ. 43:1174–1181.

Larsen DP, Butler AC, Roediger HL. 2013b. Comparative effects of test enhanced learning and self-explanation on long-term retention. Med Educ. 47:674–682. • Larsen DP, Butler AC, Roediger HL, III. 2008. Test-enhanced learning in medical education. Med Educ. 42:959–966

Aquifer Congratulates IAMSE Travel Award Recipients

Aquifer is pleased to join the International Association of Medical Student Educators in congratulating the 19 recipients of the 2019 IAMSE Travel Awards. The awards contribute to travel and registration costs for students and junior faculty attending the IAMSE Annual Meeting, held this year in Roanoke, Virginia on June 8-11, 2019. Aquifer is proud to continue supporting this award in conjunction with IAMSE, our collaborating partner on the Aquifer Sciences Initiative. This year’s award is also sponsored by ProgressIQ.

Congratulations 2019 IAMSE Travel Award Recipients:

Students

  • Katerina Dima, International Federation of Medical Students Association; Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Jennifer Allen, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine; Erie, PA
  • Milou Maartje Lisa Groenen, Radboud University; Nijmegen, Netherlands
  • Taylor Barber, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine; Philadelphia, PA
  • Alexander Beckstead, University of Utah School of Medicine; Salt Lake City, UT
  • Julia Chong, Mercer University School of Medicine; Macon, GA
  • Emmy Marloes Kok, Radboud University; Nijmegen, Netherlands
  • Katrina Gerbrand, Campbell University SOM; Lillington, NC
  • Galina Gheihman, Harvard Medical School; Boston, MA
  • Surya Khadilkar, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine; Cleveland, OH
  • Jacqueline Kobayashi, University of Utah School of Medicine; Salt Lake City, UT
  • Edgar Meyer, University of Mississippi Medical Center; Jackson, MS
  • Sarah Nguyen, University of Utah School of Medicine; Salt Lake City, UT
  • Amberly Reynolds, Indiana University; Bloomington, IN
  • Marek Svoboda, Dartmouth College; Hanover, NH

Junior Faculty

  • Jaehwa Choi, Mercer University School of Medicine; Macon, GA
  • Jeff Fritz, Medical College of Wisconsin; Wauwatosa, WI
  • Arundathi Jayatilleke, Drexel University College of Medicine; Philadelphia, PA
  • Khalil Eldeeb, Campbell University SOM; Lillington, NC

Aquifer, a mission-based non-profit organization, has an annual grant program that supports academic advancement through a series of partnerships with key national educator organizations. In 2018, Aquifer granted over $65,000 to collaborating organizations. Working with partner organizations ensures that Aquifer’s grant dollars support initiatives that serve the needs of educators and students around the country.


Aquifer is a mission-driven non-profit organization dedicated to delivering the best healthcare education through collaborative development and research into innovative, high-impact virtual teaching and learning methods. Aquifer develops trusted, award-winning, virtual case-based courses derived from national healthcare curricula. Since Aquifer’s founding in 2006, over 12 million virtual cases have been completed by more than 300,000 students.

2019 AAIM Innovation Grant Recipients Named

Aquifer is pleased to congratulate the eight recipients of the 2019 Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (AAIM) Innovation Grants, supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Aquifer. The AAIM Innovation Grant program seeks inventive approaches to addressing existing or emerging problems with impacts across the academic Internal Medicine community. As a non-profit organization, Aquifer is proud to continue funding this important work through AAIM which aligns directly with our mission of advancing healthcare education through collaborative development and research into innovative, high-impact virtual teaching and learning methods.

Aquifer joins AAIM commending the outstanding efforts of the grant finalists and congratulating the 2019 Innovation Grant recipients:

  • Andrew J. Varney, MD; Southern Illinois University
    Quality improvement project to create a safer workplace for residents and staff
  • Nicole Grogan, MD; University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine
    Framework to improve the quality of written and verbal feedback in UME and GME
  • Pramil Cheriyath, MD, MS, FACP; Ocean Medical Center
    Improving emotional intelligence among internal medicine residents using evidence -based medicine workshop
  • Catherine Gao, MD; Yale New Haven Hospital
    Automated scheduling tool to improve scheduling quality and resident satisfaction
  • Jessica Murphy, MD, MS; Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
    Developing residents’ critical consciousness through social determinants of health curriculum
  • Abby Spencer, MD, MS, FACP; Cleveland Clinic Foundation
    Key steps to rise for women trainees in leadership development
  • Julia Close, MD; University of Florida
    Integrated implicit bias curriculum for house staff addressing health care disparities in patients with sickle cell disease
  • Gretchen Diemer, MD; Thomas Jefferson University
    Creation of a self-contained pedagogical tool for the problem of opiate addiction

Aquifer (formerly MedU) has partnered with AAIM since the 2007 launch of Aquifer Internal Medicine (formerly SIMPLE), which delivers on the learning objectives of Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine’s (CDIM) General Internal Medicine Core Medicine clerkship curriculum. Aquifer’s High Value Care and Diagnostic Excellence courses were both developed with funding from AAIM Innovation Grant awards.

Aquifer’s grant program supports academic advancement through a series of partnerships with key national educator organizations. Working with our partners ensures that our grant dollars support initiatives that advance our mission and serve the needs of educators and students around the country. In 2018, Aquifer awarded grants totaling more than $65,000 a year to the following organizations:

  • Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (AAIM)
  • Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics (COMSEP)
  • Association of University Radiologists (AUR)
  • Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM)
  • International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE)

Aquifer looks forward to the results of the 2019 AAIM Innovation Grant funded projects and working with our partners to drive innovation in healthcare education.


Aquifer is a mission-driven non-profit organization dedicated to delivering the best healthcare education through collaborative development and research into innovative, high-impact virtual teaching and learning methods. Aquifer develops trusted, award-winning, virtual case-based courses derived from national healthcare curricula. Since Aquifer’s founding in 2006, over 12 million virtual cases have been completed by more than 300,000 students.

Article: Aquifer Geriatrics Delivers Needed Education

From the American Geriatrics Society:

We Need All Health Providers to be Proficient in Geriatrics-Informed Care; A New Online Curriculum Brings Us Closer

  • Training all health professionals to care optimally for older adults is critical as we all age; the new @AquiferOrg @AmerGeriatrics online curriculum has solutions to get us closer: http://ow.ly/Wqn130okZ8e

New York (April 5, 2019)—Among many breakthroughs that have made living longer possible, better health care—and more experts to make that care possible—loom large. Given that all of us are aging, we need more clinicians, researchers, and advocates to keep that momentum going. Ideally, for example, we’d already have more than 22,000 geriatricians in the U.S. (though at present less than 7,000 certified clinicians are practicing nationwide). With a limited number of geriatricians, how are we to train the next generation of clinicians to optimally care for older people? A new tool from the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) and Aquifer (the non-profit leader in developing clinical learning tools for health professions education) holds promise for bridging that gap. Aquifer Geriatrics (available at Aquifer.org/Courses/Aquifer-Geriatrics/), the AGS national online curriculum in geriatrics, is leveraging e-learning and geriatrics’ thought-leadership to advance much-needed training to care for older adults.

“Almost every health professional in the U.S. will care for older patients at some point in their training or careers,” explains Amit Shah, MD, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, “yet learning about what makes that care unique has varied in duration and even content in the past, often due to a limited number of geriatrics educators at our health professions schools. Developed initially with funding from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the cases that make up Aquifer Geriatrics provide up-to-date, evidence-based content in geriatrics education. They teach healthcare professionals how to appropriately care for older adults, and they make it easy to do so even if a geriatrician is not immediately available to teach some of the basics.”

The idea behind Aquifer Geriatrics is simple: Learners at subscribing institutions have instantaneous access to each of 26 evidence-based, peer-reviewed cases addressing the fundamentals of caring for older adults. The Aquifer Geriatrics curriculum was developed by experts from the AGS and Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs (ADGAP) using the framework of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)/John A. Hartford Foundation Minimum Geriatrics Competencies for Graduating Medical Students. Cases meet the needs of today’s learner as they can be completed at their own pace, without being bound to a traditional “classroom.” Subscriptions ensure that the course will be sustainable, providing consistent funding for operations such as content updates from a dedicated board of top educators, maintenance, and support.

“Each of the 26 cases delivers knowledge and skills, but also models a geriatrics health professional’s approach to care,” Mandi Sehgal, MD, Associate Professor of Geriatric Medicine at Florida Atlantic University Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, explains. “Rather than focusing on the myth of ‘one right answer,’ each of the cases teaches clinical reasoning and reflects the nuances of what it takes to do what geriatrics does best: Deliver high quality, person-centered care with a focus on function and quality of life.”

An article published today in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS; DOI:10.1111/jgs.15813) introduces the Aquifer Geriatrics curriculum and walks through several of its early successes, as well as strategies to help clinicians and institutions adopt the platform. In a related editorial also published in JAGS (DOI: 10.1111/jgs.15901), independent educational experts noted that the program holds promise for “helping to fill the gap that is left by the shortage of geriatrics educators” in preparing the field to “play the long game,” thanks to innovative solutions to education.

Aquifer Geriatrics cases can be completed on smartphones, tablets, or computers, and can be used independently or by schools with curricular time available to students. The cases also are appropriate for a host of health professionals, from internal and family medicine residents to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and geriatrics fellows. For more information or to learn about subscription options, visit Aquifer.org/Courses/Aquifer-Geriatrics/.


About the American Geriatrics Society

Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals that has—for more than 75 years—worked to improve the health, independence, and quality of life of older people. Its nearly 6,000 members include geriatricians, geriatric nurses, social workers, family practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and internists. The Society provides leadership to healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy. For more information, visit AmericanGeriatrics.org.

About Aquifer

Aquifer, formerly known as MedU, is a unique mission-driven non-profit organization dedicated to delivering the best health care education through collaborative development and research into innovative, high-impact virtual teaching and learning methods. With 12 million virtual patient cases completed since its founding in 2006, Aquifer is the leader in developing clinical learning tools for health professions education.

Call for Participation: Aquifer Osteopathic Task Force

Make an Impact: Work with Aquifer to Advance Medical Education

Aquifer—a unique non-profit organization dedicated to advancing healthcare education—is excited to announce the creation of an Osteopathic Task Force. This group will bring the voice, interests, and experiences of osteopathic medical educators to Aquifer, and work to develop faculty development materials and teaching tools for osteopathic educators using Aquifer courses.

This is an exciting opportunity to participate in a scholarly project on a national level. With over 12 million virtual patient cases completed since our founding in 2006, Aquifer is the leader in developing clinical teaching and learning tools.


Our Reach

Working with Aquifer, your work will make a big impact on osteopathic medical education. Currently, Aquifer is used by:

  • 66% of osteopathic medical schools—and 95% of US allopathic medical schools, and a growing number of health professions education programs.
  • 14,000 students in osteopathic medical schools.

Aquifer Osteopathic Task Force Details

Why: To further develop Aquifer’s teaching and learning resources as a valuable tool for osteopathic medical educators.

Who: This is an open invitation to all osteopathic educators who use Aquifer courses. The group will be supported by Aquifer staff and led by:

  • Erik Langenau, DO, MS, FAAP, FACOP
    Chief Academic Technology Officer, Dept of Professional Development and Online Learning
    Pediatrician, Dept of Family Medicine
    Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Barbara Capozzi, DO, CNS
    Clinical Dean
    Clinical Education Department
    Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine- Harlem
  • Alexander Chessman, MD
    Aquifer Academic Director for Curriculum
    Professor, Medical University of South Carolina

What: The Aquifer Osteopathic Task Force will:

  • Provide input to Aquifer leadership regarding  the priorities and unique needs of osteopathic programs
  • Develop and review faculty materials to support the use of Aquifer cases in the osteopathic curriculum

When: The Task Force will work actively for approximately 6 months, with work starting in early Fall of 2019. Work will include:

  • Monthly video conference calls
  • Working offline on prioritized projects, with work reviewed by the group on monthly calls.

If you are interested in joining or learning more about the Osteopathic Task Force, please let us know by contacting Leah Romano, Aquifer Business Development Manager.

We look forward to working with you to better serve the needs of osteopathic educators and students.

Thank You,

Erik Langenau, DO, MS, FAAP, FACOP
Chief Academic Technology Officer, Dept of Professional Development and Online Learning
Pediatrician, Dept of Family Medicine
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Barbara Capozzi, DO, CNS
Clinical Dean
Clinical Education Department
Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine- Harlem

Alexander Chessman, MD
Aquifer Academic Director for Curriculum
Professor, Medical University of South Carolina

Leslie Fall, MD
Aquifer Executive Director & Chief Academic Officer

Key Features Exam Renamed Clinical Decision-Making Exam

The Aquifer Key Features Exam, offered in conjunction with the Aquifer Internal Medicine course, is being renamed the Aquifer Internal Medicine Clinical Decision-Making Exam as of March 1, 2019. The new name highlights the link to the clinical decision-making skills assessed by the exam, with the goal of increasing understanding of this unique assessment tool in the internal medicine community.

There will be no changes to the exam content or administration. The exam will continue to be included with a subscription to Aquifer Internal Medicine, and administered in Aqueduct, our learning management system.

The Aquifer Clinical Decision-Making Exam aligns directly with CDIM’s national curriculum and the Aquifer Internal Medicine course, and it is specifically designed to test clinical decision-making skills at the end of the internal medicine clerkship. Although Key Features Exams (KFE’s) are widely used internationally, Aquifer’s exam is the first designed for use in U.S. medical schools. The key features approach focuses on the critical or challenging decisions in the diagnosis and management of a clinical problem to better target critical decision points. Key features exam structure includes a case vignette, followed by several questions specifically targeting the key clinical decisions.

A validation study on our Key Features Exam (KFE) for Internal Medicine was recently published in Academic Medicine. The article, Validity Evidence for a Brief Online Key Features Examination in the Internal Medicine Clerkship, presents a range of evidence supporting the use of the Key Features Exam as a complementary assessment during the third-year internal medicine clerkship, specifically to test clinical decision-making skills. This publication is the result of a multi-institutional validation study led by Valerie Lang, MD, MHPE, Aquifer Academic Director for Assessment, and a team that included Aquifer Educators Consortium members Dr. Kirk Bronander and Dr. Heather Harrell.

To learn more about the Aquifer Clinical Decision-Making Exam and the key features approach, please visit our Exams and Assessment page.

Race & Culture Project Published in Academic Medicine

Aquifer is excited to announce that Academic Medicine has published ahead of print an article highlighting the Phase One work of the Aquifer Student Engagement: Race and Culture project. The print version is expected in the April 2019 issue of Academic Medicine.

The article, Addressing Race, Culture, and Structural Inequality in Medical Education: A Guide for Revising Teaching Cases, was written by student contributors Aparna Krishnan, MPH, and Molly Rabinowitz, MD, MPH; Aquifer staff member Ariana Ziminsky; and Aquifer Consortium Student Engagement project leads Stephen M. Scott, MD, MPH, and Katherine C. Chretien, MD.

The Student Engagement: Race and Culture project began in Spring of 2017 with the goal of improving the way race and culture is presented and taught in Aquifer cases. Project leads Dr. Steve Scott and Dr. Katherine Chretien recruited fourth-year medical students from schools across the country to form a faculty/student workgroup. The group performed a literature review and analyzed Aquifer cases to identify key areas for improvement. Based on this analysis, a structured guide was created to assist in the review of Aquifer cases while also providing education and rationale. This practical guide is presented for medical educators to use while revising existing teaching cases to improve the delivery of critical content on race, culture, structural inequalities, and health disparities.

In addition to the Academic Medicine article, this work was also presented nationally at the 2018 Association of American Medical Colleges Learn Serve Lead meeting and 2019 STFM Conference on Medical Student Education. Upcoming presentations have been accepted at the 2019 COMSEP and AAIM national meetings.

Phase Two of the Race and Culture project took place in 2018, with six first- and second-year medical students completing full reviews of four Aquifer courses (Family Medicine, Geriatrics, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics) using the race and culture guide. They provided individual case and course-level recommendations to case editors and reviewers for improving cases. Learn more about the ongoing work, our student contributors, and presentation schedule.


Aquifer is a thriving, collaborative community of healthcare education leaders deeply committed to driving innovation in teaching and learning. The Aquifer Educators Consortium brings together more than 70 healthcare educators across disciplines to collaborate, innovate, and make advances in health professions education. For educators and healthcare providers, participation in the Consortium offers a unique cross-disciplinary peer community and an exciting opportunity for academic scholarship and advancement.

Aquifer Key Features Exam Validation Study Published

Note: The Key Features Exam is now known as the Clinical Decision-Making Exam (as of March 15, 2019). The exam is unchanged from what is described below, with the exception of the new moniker.


Aquifer is excited to share the publication of an important validation study of our own Key Features Exam (KFE) for Internal Medicine in Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. The article, Validity Evidence for a Brief Online Key Features Examination in the Internal Medicine Clerkship, presents a range of evidence supporting the use of the Key Features Exam as a complementary assessment during the third-year internal medicine clerkship, specifically to test clinical decision-making skills. This publication is the result of a multi-institutional validation study led by Valerie Lang, MD, MHPE, Aquifer Academic Director for Assessment, and a team that included Aquifer Educators Consortium members Dr. Kirk Bronander and Dr. Heather Harrell.

The study results show strong evidence for response-process and relationship-to-other-variables validity for using a Key Features Exam to complement other assessments in U.S. internal medicine clerkships. Results also revealed moderate internal structure validity. The study concludes that Aquifer’s nationally developed KFE is well suited as a standardized complement to other assessments in this context.

Although Key Features Exams are widely used internationally, Aquifer’s KFE is the first designed for use in U.S. medical schools. The key features approach focuses on the critical or challenging decisions in the diagnosis and management of a clinical problem to better target critical decision points. Key features exam structure includes a case vignette, followed by several questions specifically targeting the key clinical decisions.The Aquifer Key Features Exam aligns directly with CDIM’s national curriculum as well as the Aquifer Internal Medicine course, and it is specifically designed to test clinical decision-making skills at the end of the internal medicine clerkship. The exam launched in October 2017 and is currently offered to Aquifer Internal Medicine subscribers free of charge for the 2018-19 subscription year. To learn more about the Aquifer Key Features Exam and the key features approach, please visit our Exams and Assessment page.

Aquifer Sciences Update: Phase Two is Underway

Pilot School Program Teams Are Now Authoring Virtual Patient Cases and Integrated Illness Scripts

After a highly competitive process, Aquifer is pleased to announce that twelve pilot schools were selected to work on Phase Two of the Aquifer Sciences Initiative. Pilot schools were chosen from a nationwide call for participation. The Aquifer Sciences Leadership team is grateful for the overwhelming interest in this project from institutions across the country and thanks to all school applicants for their excellent submissions. The choices were difficult, and the team is confident that the selected pilot school teams will be instrumental in advancing our innovative efforts to re-engineer basic science medical education.

Work is now underway at each school, with teams of clinical and basic science educators—along with senior medical students—working together to create Virtual Patient Cases and Integrated Illness Scripts for clinical conditions routinely encountered in core clinical rotations.

Congratulations to the Phase Two Pilot School Program Teams:

Case Authoring Schools:

  • Eastern Virginia Medical School
  • Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans
  • University of California Davis School of Medicine
  • University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
  • University of Minnesota Medical School
  • University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health

Integrated Illness Script Authoring Schools:

  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • Loma Linda University School of Medicine
  • Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • University of Utah School of Medicine
  • Western Michigan University Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine

The Aquifer Sciences Initiative aims to provide healthcare education programs with the teaching and learning resources they need to ensure all graduates seamlessly acquire and apply basic science foundational understanding to patient care. The new tools will promote cognitive integration and allow students to self-assess and grow their foundational understanding through safe practice in making clinical decisions.

The Phase Two work leverages Aquifer’s unique pedagogy and learning objectives drawn from Phase One of the Aquifer Sciences Initiative: the recently released Aquifer Sciences curriculum and database, which was developed in collaboration with the International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE) and is open and available to anyone in the medical education community. Virtual Patient Cases and Integrated Illness Scripts authoring completion is targeted for the Summer of 2019, with beta-testing to follow. Aquifer is grateful for the hard work of all of our contributors on this project and looks forward to making these important new teaching and learning tools available.

Student Engagement: Race & Culture Project

The Aquifer Student Engagement: Race and Culture project started in Spring 2017 with the goal of improving the way race and culture are presented and taught in Aquifer cases, which reach more than 68,000 students every year.

Phase One

In the first phase of the project, project leads, Dr. Steve Scott and Dr. Katherine Chretien, recruited fourth-year medical students from schools across the country to form a faculty/student workgroup. The group performed a literature review and analyzed Aquifer cases for key areas of improvement. Based on this analysis, a structured guide was created to assist in the review of Aquifer cases while also providing education and rationale.

Presentations & Publications

This work has now been presented nationally at the Association of American Medical Colleges Learn Serve Lead meeting (Austin, TX, November 2018).

Additional presentations have been accepted for the 2019 National Meetings of STFM, COMSEP, and AAIM/CDIM.

Academic Medicine has published ahead of print (print expected in April 2019) an article highlighting the work completed on Phase One of this project.

The two students who played critical roles in the project, Molly Rabinowitz (former student at Oregon Health Sciences University, now a pediatrics resident at Kaiser Oakland) and Aparna Krishnan (MS4 at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine) are co-first authors on the manuscript.


Phase Two

In May 2018, Aquifer accepted applications from first-year medical students to participate in the second phase of the project in which six students reviewed four of Aquifer’s courses (Family Medicine, Geriatrics, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics) using the race and culture guide and made recommendations to case editors and reviewers for improving cases.

The six students presented their work and findings at the Aquifer Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, in the first week of October. They also presented their recommendations to each course board, which resulted in important and engaging conversations between the students and Aquifer’s team of educators.

Phase Two Students

NKEMDI AGWARAMGBO

Second-Year Medical Student: University of South Alabama

Read moreStudent Engagement: Race & Culture Project

Aquifer at AAMC: Are You Making the Most of Your Subscription?

Aquifer is will be at AAMC’s Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas on November 2-6, 2018. We are looking forward to connecting with you at this year’s conference to share the latest news and help ensure that you are making the most of your subscription.

Are you…

  • revising your curriculum?
  • looking to cover new content or key topics without increasing faculty time?
  • working with students in rural areas who need to work on cases offline?
  • in need of tailored courses or reports?
Aquifer’s Curriculum, Teaching, & Learning Tools can help.

See for yourself!

Stop by the booth to be sure you’re taking advantage of:

  • New – Searchable Case Library
    The Searchable Case Library will change the way you use Aquifer cases—
    selecting cases is fast and simple. You may even discover content that you didn’t know was available to you and your students!
  • New – iOS Mobile App
    Students can now complete their cases with our iOS app—anytime, anywhere! Great for students who are on the go or working in rural areas.
  • Content & Tools for Teaching & Learning
    We want to make sure you can access your account and take advantage of the valuable resources included with your program’s subscription. Make sure you’re up to speed on custom courses, reports, our five free interdisciplinary courses, educator resources, and more.

Where: Exhibition Hall—Booth 602
When: Saturday (4:30m-7pm), Sunday (10am-5pm), Monday (10am-1:30pm).

Can’t make it during booth hours? Not going to AAMC? Contact us to set up a personal meeting.


AAMC Presentations

Aquifer is proud to note that Aquifer Consortium members Stephen Scott, MD, MPH and Katherine Chretien, MD will be presenting the work of the Aquifer Student Engagement: Race and Culture Project at AAMC as part of the following session:

Highlights in Medical Education: Addressing Bias in Clinical Practice

Saturday, November 3, 10:30am-11:45am
Convention Center 18

Session includes presentations and discussion on three topics, including:

Addressing Structural Inequality in Medical Education: Guidelines for Virtual Patient Case Curricula

The following presentation will include research findings on integrating the Aquifer Diagnostic Excellence cases into 2nd and 3rd year medical student courses, presented by Frank Lefevre, MD:

Highlights in Medical Education: Innovations in Clinical Reasoning

Monday, November 5, 1:15pm-2:30pm
Convention Center 9

Session includes presentations and discussion on four topics, including:

Teaching Diagnostic Error: A Qualitative Analysis of Student Reactions to Simulated Cases


See you in Austin!

Mandi Sehgal Elected as AGS Teachers’ Section Chair

Aquifer is proud to announce that Dr. Mandi Sehgal, Teaching and Learning Lead for Aquifer Geriatrics, was elected to serve as the Teachers’ Section Chair for the American Geriatrics Society (AGS). The Teachers’ Section represents a group of interprofessional geriatrics educators who come together to encourage networking and collaboration. The section meets at the AGS Annual Scientific Meeting each year.

“I am excited and humbled by this honor,” Dr. Sehgal said. “The chair has the unique and exciting opportunity to lead wonderful colleagues and influence strategy for education sessions at the annual meeting,” she said. “My main goal during my term is to encourage and foster a sense of community among geriatric clinician educators through the use of online and social media.”

Dr. Mandi Sehgal is a Board Certified Family Medicine Physician and Geriatrician. She is an Associate Professor at Florida Atlantic University Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. Her roles at the College of Medicine include directing the longitudinal geriatrics curriculum thread throughout all four years of medical school, co-directing the clinical clerkship in geriatrics and palliative care, and serving as the faculty advisor to the FAU chapter of the American Geriatrics Society Geriatric Medicine Student Interest Group.

Dr. Sehgal has an academic passion for designing, implementing and evaluating geriatrics-focused educational curriculum for all learners. She is an active member of the Aquifer Geriatrics (formerly web-GEM’s) course board, currently serving as Teaching and Learning Lead, and a case co-author.

All of us at Aquifer congratulate Mandi this important national position.


Aquifer (formerly MedU) is a thriving, collaborative community of healthcare education leaders deeply committed to driving innovation in teaching and learning. The Aquifer Consortium brings together more than 200 healthcare educators across disciplines to collaborate, innovate, and make advances in health professions education. For educators and healthcare providers, participation in the Consortium offers a unique cross-disciplinary peer community and an exciting opportunity for academic scholarship and advancement.

Aquifer Sciences Call for Participation Open

The Aquifer Sciences Initiative is seeking six pilot medical schools to develop and beta-test tools to promote cognitive integration in medical education. Leveraging Aquifer’s unique pedagogy and learning objectives drawn from our recently released Aquifer Sciences open curriculum—developed in collaboration with the International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE)—pilot school teams will initially be assigned to develop either virtual patient cases or integrated illness scripts for clinical conditions routinely encountered in core clinical rotations.

About the Aquifer Sciences Initiative

Integration of basic and clinical science knowledge is increasingly being recognized as important for safe and effective practice in the health professions. The concept of ‘cognitive integration’ places emphasis on the value of basic science in providing critical connections during clinical decision-making, while recognizing that experienced clinicians may not spontaneously articulate their use of basic science knowledge in clinical reasoning.

Aquifer, the non-profit leader in collaborative development of virtual learning resources for health professions education, has launched the Aquifer Sciences Initiative. The Initiative aims to provide medical schools with the teaching and learning resources they need to ensure all graduates seamlessly acquire and apply basic science foundational understanding to patient care.

Learn More About Aquifer Sciences

Development teams at pilot schools must:

  • Be collaboratively led by an experienced basic science educator and a clinician educator with a history of working on integrated curriculum projects.
  • Include a small, balanced, and committed team of basic science and clinical educators with expertise in the topics relevant to the team’s assigned cases or integrated illness scripts.
  • Include at least four medical students with a track record of excellence in both the school’s basic science and clinical curricula, and who have demonstrated the ability to work independently and in teams, with strong follow-through skills.
  • Participate in a scheduled two-hour training webinar.
  • Dedicate up to 16-weeks to the project, including scheduled weekly or bi-weekly working group calls with assigned project mentors, and local team meetings as required to complete tasks in the assigned time frame.

Consistent with Aquifer’s mission, project participants will innovate collaboratively within teams of leading basic, clinical, and cognitive science educators and medical students from participating schools recruited from across North America. Dedicated Aquifer staff, including eLearning designers, project managers, and software developers will enable project participants to focus on designing and implementing tools in rapid-cycle innovation loops while learning valuable new skills in product design, development, and testing.

Upon successful completion of assigned work, pilot schools will be eligible to participate in the beta launch of the initial case series and illness scripts developed by all pilot programs. Successful pilot school teams will receive priority consideration in future development phases of the project.

Pilot schools will be recognized as such on the Aquifer website and in all relevant Aquifer Sciences materials. Project leaders will be provided with a $1,500 grant to support local project activities. Project members who demonstrate significant contributions will receive scholarly recognition and evidence of multi-institutional impact and will be eligible to apply for travel grants to Wellspring —Aquifer’s annual meeting—in October 2019 to present their work and to engage with other pilot school participants.

Letter of Intent Due: August 3, 2018

LOI Status Notification: August 17, 2018

Full Application (by invitation) Due: September 15, 2018

Pilot Schools Notified: October 8, 2018

Required 2-hour Training Webinar: October 17, 2018

Phase 1 Development Commences: October 15, 2018

Phase 1 Development Work Complete: March 1, 2019

Beta-Testing Commences: July 1, 2019

Letter of Intent Submission

Thank you to all schools who submitted a Letter of Intent to become a pilot school. You will be notified of your status by August 17.

Aquifer Consortium Members Elected to Lead CDIM and AAIM

Aquifer congratulates our consortium members and internal medicine educators Shobhina Chheda, MD, MPH, Katherine Chretien, MD, and James Nixon, MD, MPHE on their election to respective leadership roles in the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine (CDIM) and the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (AAIM).

CDIM is a professional membership organization representing educators who teach internal medicine to medical students, including clerkship directors, preceptors, and other faculty and staff involved in undergraduate medical education. AAIM, the parent organization for CDIM, supports academic internal medicine professionals and enhances health care through professional development, research, and advocacy. The terms for the elected positions begin on July 1, 2018.

Dr. Shobhina Chheda, currently the Aquifer Internal Medicine Teaching and Learning Lead, will transition from serving as CDIM President-Elect to CDIM President this year. Dr. Chheda is an Assistant Dean of Medical Education and Professor of General Internal Medicine at the University of Wisconsin.

Stepping up to the CDIM President-Elect position will be Katherine Chretien, MD. Dr. Chretien is currently the Student Engagement Lead for the Aquifer Teaching & Learning Group, and the co-faculty lead for the Aquifer Race and Culture project. She is also the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and an Associate Professor of Medicine at George Washington University.

Shobhina Chheda and Kathy Chretien are continuing a longstanding tradition of Aquifer Consortium members holding leadership positions in CDIM. Past presidents who are also current Aquifer Consortium members include:

  • James Nixon, MD (2016-2017 term); Aquifer Internal Medicine Senior Director
  • Valerie Lang, MD (2014-2015 term); Aquifer Academic Director for Assessment
  • Heather Harrell, MD (2012-2013 term), Aquifer High Value Care Senior Director

Following his term as CDIM President, Dr. James Nixon was elected to the AAIM Board of Directors in the role of Secretary-Treasurer for the 2017-2018 term. He was recently re-elected and will continue to hold the office for the 2018-2019 year. This position also serves as the AAIM Finance and Audit Committee Chair. Dr. Nixon is currently a Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota.

AAIM is Aquifer’s collaborating national organization for the Aquifer Internal Medicine course, which delivers the learning objectives of the CDIM General Internal Medicine Core Medicine clerkship curriculum. Aquifer’s close partnership with AAIM and CDIM ensures that our course content reflects the current national curriculum standards and serves the needs of medical educators across the country. “We are so proud to have our Aquifer Consortium members so highly engaged within their professional organizations. Not only does it showcase the talented educators who work with us, but it helps to ensure that Aquifer’s content reflects national curriculum standards and aligns with the needs of students and educators,” said Leslie Fall, Aquifer Executive Director. “The entire Aquifer team congratulates Shobhi, Kathy, and James on their new and continuing leadership roles.”


Aquifer (formerly MedU) is a thriving, collaborative community of healthcare education leaders deeply committed to driving innovation in teaching and learning. The Aquifer Consortium brings together more than 200 healthcare educators across disciplines to collaborate, innovate, and make advances in health professions education. For educators and healthcare providers, participation in the Consortium offers a unique cross-disciplinary peer community and an exciting opportunity for academic scholarship and advancement.

Aquifer Welcomes New Consortium Members

Aquifer is pleased to welcome the following medical educators to the Aquifer Consortium as they join a range o course boards. We look forward to working with them to continue developing and maintaining quality courses and tools for educators and students.


Dr. Judy Gadde

Aquifer Radiology – Teaching & Learning Lead

Judy Gadde is an adult and pediatric neuroradiologist at Emory School of Medicine and the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. After completing her undergraduate degree, Dr. Gadde moved to Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences for her DO and MBA in Healthcare Leadership degrees. She completed her internship and Diagnostic Radiology residency at Christiana Care in Newark, Delaware. The University of Wisconsin Madison was the next move for her Neuroradiology Fellowship, followed by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for her Pediatric Neuroradiology Fellowship. Dr. Gadde began her career at Emory by getting involved in medical student education, while also creating a Pediatric Neuroradiology Case of the Week on Twitter and assisting in the transformation of Radiology ExamWeb.


Dr. Jimmy Beck

Aquifer High Value Care – Editor-in-Chief/Associate Editor

Dr. Beck is currently a Pediatric Hospitalist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. He attended medical school at the University of Washington. He currently serves as Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Subcommittee on Pediatric Hospital Medicine Educators. Dr. Beck’s educational and research focus has been on promoting High Value Care. He has led a variety of multi-institution collaboratives to develop HVC educational curriculum for trainees and an HVC rounding tool. He currently is involved in a project to better under parents’ perspective on cost discussions of hospitalized children.


Dr. Lucia Ponar

Aquifer Diagnostic Excellence – Associate Editor

Dr. Ponar is currently the Medical Education Director and Assistant Professor of Medicine at John Hopkins School of Medicine. She attended the Universitatea De Medicina Si Farmacie Carol Davila for medical school and completed her fellowship at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where she also received an award for Clinical Excellence in 2016. She has developed a Clinical Reasoning Curriculum which was implemented within the Internal Medicine Residency training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Additionally, Dr. Ponar has given lectures related to clinical reasoning and involved in Transitions to Wards, which enables medical students to develop clinical thinking concepts before entering residency. She also completed her MBA at Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business in 2013.


Dr. Kathleen Lane

Aquifer Diagnostic Excellence – Associate Editor

Dr. Kathleen Lane is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota. She earned her medical degree at the University of Minnesota in Internal Medicine. Dr. Lane previously co-authored one of the Aquifer Diagnostic Excellence cases with Dr. Andrew Olson, along with staging photographs for a sample case. Her research interests span clinical reasoning, diagnostic error, and feedback. She is also a co-PI on the LOOP Study, which is a multicenter initiative utilizing feedback to improve diagnostic reasoning in trainees.


Aquifer is a thriving, collaborative community of healthcare education leaders deeply committed to driving innovation in teaching and learning. The Aquifer Consortium brings together more than 200 healthcare educators across disciplines to collaborate, innovate, and make advances in health professions education. For educators and healthcare providers, participation in the Consortium offers a unique cross-disciplinary peer community and an exciting opportunity for academic scholarship and advancement.

Study Confirms Need for Education on High Value Care

A survey conducted by the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine reveals a disparity between the perceived importance of teaching in high-value care (HVC) and current state of instruction on the topic in internal medicine clerkships. The research findings were presented in “Current and Optimal Training in High-Value Care in the Internal Medicine Clerkship: A National Curricular Needs Assessment”, published in the March 2018 issue of Academic Medicine, by doctors Danelle Cayea, Kimberly Taraglia, Amit Pahwa, Heather Harrell, Amy Shaheen, and Valerie J. Lang.

The study shows that high-value care (HVC) is insufficiently taught and assessed in medical school due to several factors. As part of CDIM’s 2014 annual survey, 121 U.S. and Canadian medical school clerkship directors were asked a series of questions about the importance of high-value care instruction. The majority of respondents (91.4%) agreed that medical schools have a responsibility to teach about HVC, yet only 32.9% reported that their curricula included formal instruction on this topic. A majority of clerkship directors found the amount of instruction dedicated to HVC was insufficient (70.2%).

Survey results show that lack of dedicated time in the curriculum (73.4%) and lack of faculty time to teach (68.1%) are the top barriers to implementing HVC instruction. Other contributing factors included lack of curricular materials, faculty development, and dedicated curricular time. The study cites that curricular teaching tools, including Aquifer High Value Care, are currently available and would benefit from further dissemination.

Originally developed by expert members of CDIM and adopted from the ACP and AAIM HVC resident curriculum, the Aquifer High Value Care virtual patient cases model best-practices in high-value care. The original content recently expanded to 12 cases, which include the pediatric population and specialties outside of internal medicine. All are available free of change. Dr. Heather Harrell, study co-author and Aquifer High Value Care Senior Director noted. “The Aquifer High Value Care curriculum is uniquely suited to help address this gap and perceived barriers to HVC education in U.S. medical schools. With very little faculty time required, educators can assign the entire course, or just a selection of cases depending on the needs of their program.”

Aquifer Consortium members Dr. Amit Pahwa, Dr. Heather Harrell, and Dr. Valerie Lang participated as co-authors in the study. Dr. Amit Pahwa is an Associate Director of the Aquifer High Value Care Course Board, an Assistant Professor of Medicine, and Director of Hospital Medicine Sub-Internship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Heather Harrell is the Senior Director of Aquifer High Value Care Course Board, a Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of Internal Medicine Clerkship at the University of Florida, Gainesville, and former CDIM President (2012-2013). Dr. Valerie Lang is the Aquifer Academic Director for Assessment, an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester, and former CDIM President (2014-2015).


Aquifer (formerly MedU) is a thriving, collaborative community of healthcare education leaders deeply committed to driving innovation in teaching and learning. The Aquifer Consortium brings together more than 200 healthcare educators across disciplines to collaborate, innovate, and make advances in health professions education. For educators and healthcare providers, participation in the Consortium offers a unique cross-disciplinary peer community and an exciting opportunity for academic scholarship and advancement.

Aquifer Sciences: Curriculum Database Now Available

Aquifer is excited to announce that the Aquifer Sciences curriculum database is now available to the public free of charge via Aquifersciences.org.

The database houses the Aquifer Sciences initiative core curriculum, developed in collaboration with the International Association of Medical Science Educators. Four years in development, the Aquifer Sciences curriculum is the first nationally-developed and publicly available curriculum that comprehensively outlines the core basic sciences concepts that must be understood and mastered by health professions learners in order to provide safe, routine patient care.

The core curriculum is the result a massive collaborative effort by a nationally representative and multi-institutional team of over 100 leading science and clinical educators, along with senior medical student curriculum interns from across the country. The curriculum database includes:

  • 11 basic science disciplines
  • 9 clinical disciplines
  • 105 core concepts
  • 789 learning objectives
  • 366 common conditions
  • 5 clinical decisions
  • 15 systems

The Aquifer Sciences curriculum is delivered through a customizable search and filter database that allows users to access the information they need with ease. The carefully curated curriculum information, combined with easy-to-use, openly available online access, makes the Aquifer Sciences database an extremely valuable tool for educators and during their curriculum planning processes. The core curriculum provides a common conceptual language and integrated curricular methodology enables curricular planning and meaningful conversations between basic science and clinical educators.

“We are so thrilled to launch the Aquifer Sciences curriculum database. This is the culmination of so many years of hard work by such an incredibly dedicated team. It’s a wonderful feeling to have the database available to the public, and we look forward to hearing feedback from educators as they dig in and start making use of this tool,” said Leslie Fall, Aquifer Executive Director and Chief Academic Officer. “We believe this project fills a critical need in health care education. The team is excited to continue our mission of integrating basic science and clinical learning by moving forward with the next phase of the initiative this year—the virtual patient cases.”

The curriculum database is the key first component of the larger Aquifer Sciences initiative. Aquifer Sciences is a partnership between Aquifer, a non-profit organization, and the International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE) to develop and share teaching and learning tools that integrate the basic and clinical sciences. The goal of the initiative is to promote cognitive integration and collaborative teaching of the basic and clinical sciences in health professions education. Future project components, currently in development, include the development of virtual patient cases with integrated illness scripts for over 300 core conditions, which will follow Aquifer’s proven pedagogy and existing course library model. The virtual patient cases are expected to become available via Aqueduct, Aquifer’s learning management system, in 2019. Following the launch of the cases, the Aquifer Sciences team will develop classroom resources to support active learning and collaborative faculty facilitation, tentatively available in 2020.


Learn more:

Stephen Scott to Join Aquifer Academic Leadership

Dr. Stephen Scott, MD, MPH

Aquifer is thrilled to announce that Stephen Scott, MD, MPH will join the Aquifer Academic Leadership as a new Academic Director for Engagement. In this new academic leadership role, Dr. Scott’s will join forces with Sherilyn Smith (Academic Director for Engagement, Integration, and Research) to advance Aquifer’s outreach and engagement capabilities. His work will focus on improving Aquifer’s understanding of the needs of our subscribing educators and students, and increasing user engagement.

This new role will also extend to product research and development and providing educator-to-educator advice on effective curriculum integration and use of Aqueduct’s features. Dr. Scott will work closely with the Aquifer Relationship Management and Product Management teams, along Aquifer leadership, the Aquifer Academic Council, and the Aquifer Consortium as a whole. The new position will begin officially in July.

Dr. Scott first became involved with Aquifer (formerly MedU) in 2007, when he joined the fmCASES (now Aquifer Family Medicine) development group. He’s been an active member of the Aquifer Family Medicine Course Board (where he will continue to serve) since the launch of the course, in addition to leading workgroups to support student and educator Aquifer users.

Dr. Stephen Scott recently became the Chair of the Department of Medical Education and Director for the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship at the newly forming Texas Christian University and UNTHSC School of Medicine in Fort Worth, Texas. Previously, he served as the Associate Dean for Student Affairs at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar. For more than 20 years, Dr. Scott has worked with medical students, residents, and faculty in the classroom and in clinical settings, including directing courses in patient-physician communication, clinical skills, public health, and other disciplines. Dr. Scott is the recipient of multiple grants and awards for educational leadership and innovation. He and his wife Melissa have two daughters. Steve enjoys playing the piano, the arts, reading, and exploring the world with family and friends.

“We’re thrilled to have Steve joining us in this new academic leadership role,” said Leslie Fall, Aquifer Executive Director and Chief Academic Officer. “Between his work on the Aquifer Family Medicine course, background in faculty development and student affairs, and new role building a medical school from the ground up, he is the ideal fit to help us advance Aquifer’s mission. We look forward to working with him and growing our capacity to work on the important areas where Steve will bring valuable knowledge and experience.”


Aquifer (formerly MedU) is a thriving, collaborative community of healthcare education leaders deeply committed to driving innovation in teaching and learning. The Aquifer Consortium brings together more than 200 healthcare educators across disciplines to collaborate, innovate, and make advances in health professions education. For educators and healthcare providers, participation in the Consortium offers a unique cross-disciplinary peer community and an exciting opportunity for academic scholarship and advancement.

Family Medicine Exam Found to be Effective Pretest

Study Shows that Using the Aquifer Family Medicine Exam as a Pretest Improves NBME Performance

Aquifer is pleased to share the findings of a recent study relating to the Aquifer Family Medicine Exam (formerly the fmCASES National Examination). The study, “fmCASES National Examination as a Pretest in a Family Medicine Clerkship”, published in the February 2018 edition of Family Medicine, was conducted by Dana R. Nguyen, MD, of Uniformed Services University, and co-authored by Jessica T. Survey, MD and LaTraia S. Scoot, MD. Results showed that students who completed the Aquifer Family Medicine Exam as a pretest at the start of the family medicine clerkship failed the NBME final exam at significantly lower rates (8.1% compared to 17.5%) than students who did not take the pretest. The study also concludes that the Aquifer Family Medicine Exam is a valuable formative assessment tool. Pretest results provided students with clear feedback on content areas most in need of study and help to form individualized study plans.

“This study adds to our knowledge about the usefulness of the Aquifer Family Medicine Exam (formerly known as the fmCASES National Exam) and should inform clerkship and curriculum directors about the exam’s utility for improving learning,” said Alexander Chessman, Aquifer Academic Director of Curriculum. “A standard criticism of using pretest scores is that ANY exam could be effective for placing a student into a risk group; the old dictum is that a bad test-taker is a bad test-taker. But this study, after adjusting for MCAT score, and undergraduate GPA, still proved that using this exam as a pretest was informative. Thank you to the study team for this great and helpful work that adds to our understanding.”

Although the Aquifer Family Medicine Exam is designed as a summative end-of-clerkship evaluation to replace or enhance another cumulative exam, its uses extend beyond. The exam, included with an Aquifer Family Medicine subscription at no additional cost, is also being utilized for remediation, or, as this study suggests, as a pretest for the NBME.

Learn more about the Aquifer Family Medicine Exam.

View the full abstract and article.


Aquifer (formerly known as MedU) is a mission-driven 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to delivering the best healthcare education through collaborative development and research into innovative, high-impact virtual teaching and learning methods. Aquifer develops trusted, award-winning, virtual case-based courses derived from national healthcare curricula. Since Aquifer’s founding in 2006, over 10,000,000 virtual cases have been completed by more than 300,000 students. Aquifer’s cases are created and maintained by more than 400 educators from 10 leading national organizations representing more than 120 academic institutions.

Dr. Sox Publishes Study on Aquifer Oral Presentation Skills

Aquifer Oral Presentation Skills Found to be as Effective as Faculty-Led Feedback Sessions

Aquifer congratulates Colin M. Sox, MD, MS on the recent publication of his study “Efficacy of a Web-Based Oral Case Presentation Instructional Module: Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial”, in the January 2018 issue of Academic Pediatrics. His research tested the effectiveness of the Aquifer Oral Presentation Skills course (formerly CLIPP oral case presentation modules) in improving student’s oral presentation skills, as compared to a faculty-led feedback session or no additional training.

The study reveals that the quality of oral presentations delivered by students who completed the Aquifer course did not differ from those who participated in faculty-led feedback sessions.

Dr. Sox asserts that this makes the Aquifer Oral Presentation Skills course “arguably a more efficient educational tool… it provides a flexible, independent learning opportunity that requires no faculty time.” The study also concluded that a student’s previous experience in an Internal Medicine clerkship was predictive of higher quality oral presentations. Dr. Sox’s study was funded by the MedU CLIPP Small Grant and the Joel and Barbara Alpert Endowment for the Children of the City and took place between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2015.

Dr. Sox is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. He earned his MD at Harvard Medical School, where he also began his research work. After completing his Pediatrics residency training at the University of California, San Francisco, he earned an M.S. in Health Services Research at the University of Washington as an RWF Clinical Scholar. While working on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and Boston University School of Medicine over the last 16 years, Dr. Sox’s research has continued, with a focus on medical education. He received the Academic Pediatric Association’s Ray E. Helfer Award for Innovation in Pediatric Education and currently, is conducting a randomized control test of a mindfulness curriculum in 15 US pediatric residency programs to test the impact of the curriculum on physician burnout.

View the abstract and access the full article.


Aquifer (formerly known as MedU) is a mission-driven 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to delivering the best healthcare education through collaborative development and research into innovative, high-impact virtual teaching and learning methods. Aquifer develops trusted, award-winning, virtual case-based courses derived from national healthcare curricula. Since Aquifer’s founding in 2006, over 10,000,000 virtual cases have been completed by more than 300,000 students. Aquifer’s cases are created and maintained by more than 400 educators from 10 leading national organizations representing more than 120 academic institutions.

Andrew Olson, MD Honored at CDIM National Meeting

Aquifer is proud to announce that Andrew Olson, MD will receive the 2018 CDIM Early Career Medical Student Educator Award at the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine (CDIM) National Meeting during the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine’s Academic Internal Medicine Week.

The CDIM Early Career Medical Student Educator Award is given to a CDIM member at the instructor or assistant professor level who demonstrates innovation and excellence in medical student education. Areas of achievement may include leadership and scholarship in medical student education, teaching, or service to CDIM or AAIM. Award nominees are reviewed by the CDIM Nominating Committee and approved by the CDIM Council.

Dr. Andrew Olson is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota where he practices hospital medicine and pediatrics. He also serves as the Director of the Medical School’s Subinternship in Critical Care and as the founding Director of the Medical School’s Becoming a Doctor course. Dr. Olson was recently named the Director of Medical Educator Development and Scholarship. His areas of interest and study are in the development of expertise in decision-making, methods to improve diagnostic reasoning education and competency-based medical education.

Dr. Olson is currently serving in the Aquifer Consortium as the Senior Director for Aquifer Diagnostic Excellence. Dr. Olsen is the Primary Investigator of the DX: Diagnostic Excellence project, a national project to develop, implement, and evaluate a novel curriculum for medical students about diagnostic reasoning and error. He also is the Co-Chair of the Education Committee of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine and the co-Primary Investigator of a Macy-Foundation project to develop an Interprofessional Curriculum to Improve Diagnosis.


Aquifer (formerly MedU) is a thriving, collaborative community of healthcare education leaders deeply committed to driving innovation in teaching and learning. The Aquifer Consortium brings together more than 200 healthcare educators across disciplines to collaborate, innovate, and make advances in health professions education. For educators and healthcare providers, participation in the Consortium offers a unique cross-disciplinary peer community and an exciting opportunity for academic scholarship and advancement.

WISE-OnCall: Available from Aquifer

From our partners at the NYU School of Medicine:

NYU Langone Health

We are pleased to announce that WISE-OnCall is now available through the Aquifer system.

WISE-OnCall consists of 12 modules addressing common clinical presentations. Each module emphasizes:

  • Assessment
  • Early management
  • A review of common underlying causes
  • Distinguishing features

Dramatizations emphasize the importance of gathering information from the medical record, nursing staff, the patient, and appropriate diagnostic tests. Professionalism, communication & escalation of acute situations is also covered. Checklists and practice questions help learners to hone their clinical reasoning skills.

The modules currently available include:

  • Chest Pain
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Fever and Sepsis
  • Dyspnea
  • Oliguria
  • Pain Management
  • Hypertension
  • Hypotension/Shock
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Lower Extremity Pain
  • Documentation
  • Certifying a Death

A research study of the impact of WISE-OnCall modules demonstrated improvement in our graduating students’ clinical skills when measured in a controlled simulation exercise*. Students have consistently graded WISE-OnCall very high with respect to content and appropriateness for their level of learning.

This course is designed specifically for upper-level clerkships and transition to residency courses. However, some residency programs are using WISE-OnCall for junior resident orientation.

NYU School of Medicine uses the modules to help prepare graduating students for residency. Last year our program directors required WISE-OnCall for 140 incoming interns as part of our patient safety orientation. Due to the overwhelmingly favorable response from faculty, participating residents and hospital administrators, WISE-OnCall will be a part of the orientation process for all new residents.

Please let us know if you would like to view WISE-OnCall program and consider it for your transition to residency curriculum. If you have questions or would like to know more about our use of the modules, feel free to contact Dawn Bornheimer at 646-854-8033.

 

Thomas S. Riles, MD

Associate Dean for Medical Education and Technology

New York University School of Medicine


*Szyld D, Uquillas K, Green BR, Yavner SD, Song H, Nick MW, Ng GM, Pusic MV, Riles TS, & Kalet A (2017). Improving the clinical skills performance of graduating medical students using “WISE OnCall,” a multimedia educational module. Simulation in Healthcare, 12(6), 385-392, 2017

Dr. Katherine Chretien Publishes Mothers in Medicine

Aquifer congratulates our own Katherine Chretien, MD on the recent publication of her book; Mothers in Medicine: Career, Practice, and Life Lessons Learned. Katherine is an Aquifer Consortium member and a prominent physician and medical educator, specializing in Internal Medicine.

Dr. Katherine Chretien is the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and an Associate Professor of Medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences. She is also a hospitalist physician at the Washington DC VA Medical Center. Katherine is the recipient of the Charles H. Griffith III Educational Research Award from Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine (CDIM) and the Women Leaders in Medicine Award from the American Medical Student Association.

Dr. Chretien began working with Aquifer in 2014, when she became an Associate Editor on the Aquifer Internal Medicine Board (formerly SIMPLE). She is currently a Student Engagement Lead for the Aquifer Teaching & Learning Group, and a co-faculty lead for Aquifer’s Race and Culture pilot project. In addition to her work with the Aquifer Consortium, Katherine also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Graduate Medical Education, and on the CDIM Council. She will be CDIM President-Elect beginning June 2018.

Mothers in Medicine: Career, Practice, and Life Lessons Learned draws from the best advice, wisdom, stories, and insights shared on the popular Mothers in Medicine blog (mothersinmedicine.com) over the last 10 years, as well as the authors’ personal experiences and expertise. The Mothers in Medicine group blog began in 2008 as a way to cultivate a community of support for women in medicine. The book covers a range of themes relating to the physician-mother: career decisions, having children during training, navigating life challenges, practice issues, and work-life balance. Mothers in Medicine, now available on Amazon and Springer.com, preserves the conversational tone of the blog and provides a guide for women in medicine at all stages of their careers.

“The entire Aquifer team is proud of Katherine’s tremendous achievement in completing this book,” said Leslie Fall, Aquifer Executive Director and Chief Academic Officer. “She’s an incredible asset to the Aquifer Consortium and a talented, dedicated physician and educator. It’s impressive—but not surprising—that she has added the publication of this book to her accomplishments.”


Aquifer (formerly MedU) is a thriving, collaborative community of healthcare education leaders deeply committed to driving innovation in teaching and learning. The Aquifer Consortium brings together more than 200 healthcare educators across disciplines to collaborate, innovate, and make advances in health professions education. For educators and healthcare providers, participation in the Consortium offers a unique cross-disciplinary peer community and an exciting opportunity for academic scholarship and advancement.

MedU is Now Aquifer

We are pleased to announce that as of January 29, 2018, MedU has changed its name to Aquifer! When MedU was founded back in 2006, our focus was on providing innovative online learning for third-year medical students during their pediatric clerkship. Over the past ten years, we have grown to be so much more. As Aquifer—your trusted source for clinical learning—we can better reflect who we are today, what we do, and our vision for the future.

Our new name provides an opportunity for more clarity and growth. Simplified course names will link the Aquifer brand to the quality content we provide—building better recognition and trust across our course offerings. The Aquifer brand allows us to be more inclusive of all healthcare professional learners, like Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners, who are so critical to health care delivery today. Our new learning management system, launched in July, continues to underlie all our courses, raising the level of your students’ skills and knowledge and delivering learning wherever and whenever it’s needed.


What’s staying the same?

We’re still the same unique non-profit organization led by Aquifer’s academic consortium, dedicated to partnering with national organizations to deliver trusted content—written by educators, for educators—that is evidence-based, peer-reviewed, and continuously updated to support best practices in clinical education.

Our courses and user data remain untouched, providing the same great content, continuously updated by our consortium of medical educators. User reports, rosters, and custom courses remain unchanged. Direct links to our learning management system, including your program-specific URL, will not change.


What has changed?

  • Simple, self-explanatory course names: Our old course-specific acronyms were replaced with intuitive names: CLIPP is now Aquifer Pediatrics, fmCASES becomes Aquifer Family Medicine, etc. View the full list of our new course names here.
  • Our learning management system has a fresh new look. The user experience hasn’t changed, but you now see the Aquifer name, new course names, and a cleaner interface. And to connect the platform to our new brand, it’s now called Aqueduct—the carrier of Aquifer’s essential learning.
  • Aquifer.org for Sign In: You’ve found our brand-new website, filled with useful news, resources, and tools. Links to Med-u.org will redirect to Aquifer.org through the summer of 2018. Please update bookmarks and course materials.
  • User Profile updates: The first time you sign in to access your courses after January 29th, you’ll be asked to update your user profile. It’s a quick and easy step that will help us serve you better in the future.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about our new brand.

Thank you for flowing along with us!