Nationally recognized health care curriculum expert named vice dean for medical education

Patricia ThomasAn expert in medical curriculum development who also participated in the development of a Johns Hopkins University’s medical education building is Case Western Reserve’s new vice dean for medical education.

Patricia Thomas, a nationally recognized educator, author and physician, assumes her role at the School of Medicine this month after emerging as the top candidate from an exhaustive nationwide search. She joins Case Western Reserve as planning continues for a landmark medical education building with Cleveland Clinic. Leaders of both institutions have emphasized their ambition for the new building to catalyze the city’s emergence as a prominent global hub for innovative medical education.

“With the sweeping changes in our health care delivery system, we need to make sure our students are prepared for the practice of medicine in the 21st century,” said Pamela B. Davis, dean of the School of Medicine and senior vice president for medical affairs. “Pat is first and foremost, an educator. But she’s also a forecaster for what lies ahead. She has a clear plan for helping students combine the study of medicine with a commitment to research and an understanding of the role behavioral and social sciences play in generating positive patient outcomes.”

In her new role, Thomas, the associate dean for curriculum at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, will oversee, direct and ultimately evaluate all the medical education and teaching programs at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. As part of her charge, she will explore ways to enhance the groundbreaking Western Reserve 2 curriculum, a student-centered approach to learning that emphasizes research, scholarship, clinical mastery, teamwork and leadership.

“I am very excited and honored to be a part of Case Western Reserve School of Medicine,” said Thomas, who spent 25 years in various leadership roles at John Hopkins. “After being in one place so long, it’s a great opportunity for growth. There were many great candidates and I’m honored to have been selected. This a prestigious, wonderful place to work.”

Thomas is eager to apply some of the lessons learned at John Hopkins to help the School of Medicine seize the opportunities presented by the educational collaboration with the Clinic. She hopes to identify ways to prepare students—and educators—to assume leadership roles in medical education and practice.

“I don’t think you can overstate the importance of collaboration,” said Thomas. “We want our graduates to be very skilled team players. Diversity of opinions enriches the discussion and the product. Our curriculum and our faculty must be prepared to deliver this. So far, I’m tremendously impressed with the faculty I’ve met here. Everyone had the same commitment to students, the same commitment to excellence.”

While at Johns Hopkins, Thomas led a five-year process that redesigned and implemented a modernized curriculum called Genes to Society. Thomas also played an integral role in the development of Hopkins’ Anne and Mike Armstrong Medical Education Building. Both the enhanced curriculum and new medical education building “made a tremendous difference in the climate and culture of the school of medicine,” she said. “I expect the same thing to happen here. It’s really an exciting time, a watershed moment at Case Western Reserve.”

Thomas is also an accomplished author who has published several peer-reviewed journals and textbooks. She recently co-authored Curriculum Development for Medical Education – A Six Step Approach, a monograph designed to guide and enhance the educational experiences of medical students, residents, fellows and clinical practitioners.

Thomas graduated from Colby College in 1972 and from Rutgers Medical School in 1976. She received her postdoctoral training at Rutgers and George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She is board certified in internal medicine, rheumatology and geriatrics. Over 15 years teaching curriculum development to faculty at Johns Hopkins, she has guided 46 development projects.

Thomas joins the medical school Feb. 10. Her faculty appointment will become final after approval of the university Board of Trustees.