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Faculty & Students Recognized for Teaching Excellence

June 26, 2023

Celebrating Our Medical Educators

At the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, we are proud to celebrate and recognize our faculty for their commitment to teaching excellence. They each play a critical role in shaping the future of health care by imparting their knowledge, experience and wisdom to the next generation of health care providers. We are honored to acknowledge just a few of our exceptional educators, mentors and students who all embody a dedicated commitment to excellence.

2023 Medical Excellence Winners

Recognized for creating a learning environment that is conducive to thoughtful inquiry and meaningful engagement, Darcy Wooten, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health, has been named the recipient of the Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching. This award recognizes one faculty or staff member each year who consistently excels in multiple facets of medical education, including excellence in teaching or mentorship, educational innovation and educational scholarship. Wooten is the program director of the Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program, director of the Clinical Foundations course and director of the Fellow-As-Clinician-Educator course at UC San Diego. Wooten also teaches in multiple preclinical and clinical courses in the School of Medicine and the Internal Medicine Residency Program.

Wooten consistently receives outstanding marks and feedback from trainees and has won several teaching awards during her tenure at UC San Diego. She has been lauded not only for her “contagious enthusiasm for education" but also for her use of evidence-based teaching methods and commitment to continual improvements in medical education.

Dr. Darcy Wooten

Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching

According to her peers, Simerjot Jassal, MD, clinical professor of internal medicine in the Department of Medicine, is the quintessential physician, educator and peer. She is the recipient of the 2023 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award presented by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation which recognizes clinical faculty members who are exemplars of humanism in the care of patients. The Gold Foundation defines humanism in health care as compassionate, collaborative and scientifically excellent care.

Jassal is program director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program. She is well known for her dedication, compassion and commitment to not only her patients, but also her residents and peers. She is described as having limitless patience and someone who greets every issue with a smile followed by a solution. One nominator noted that Jassal's selfless and genuine desire to promote the health of her patients and the successful careers of her colleagues is unparalleled.

With an unwavering commitment to medical education, Steve Schneid, MHPE, director of educational development and scholarship at the School of Medicine and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is doubly honored this year as the recipient of both the Educational Scholarship Award and the Award for Excellence in Curriculum or Educational Innovation.

The Educational Scholarship Award recognizes one faculty or staff member each year who demonstrates an active role in health sciences education research; generates evidence-based teaching and learning practices to impact student learning outcomes; captures grant funding in medical education research; and disseminates scholarship of this research. The excellence in curriculum or educational innovation award honors members of the School of Medicine community who have developed innovative educational content, curricula or programs.

For more than 20 years, Schneid has taught first- and second-year medical students at UC San Diego in a variety of subjects and settings. He created and co-directed the team-based learning program to support second-year pharmacy students in the shared biomedical sciences curriculum for more than 10 years. Schneid was also involved in creating the curriculum for the postbaccalaureate premedical program and has been the lead instructor for that program for 10 years. His commitment to the education of new doctors is unparalleled and his scholarship around the activity shows his commitment to disseminating valuable lessons to our community. He is an invaluable asset to other faculty, as evidenced by the breadth of his collaborators, working towards improving medical and pharmacy education.

Andrew Yousef, MD, PGY-3, trainee in the UC San Diego Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery Residency Program is the recipient of the Resident and Fellow Teaching Award. Recognized as the trainee who displays excellence in the domains of teaching, engaging the learner and creating an environment that promotes intellectual curiosity and inquiry, Yousef was chosen from a field of more than 1,000 trainees.

Yousef stood out for the depth and breadth of his efforts. He is a relentless educator, creating teachable moments for medical students throughout the day and sculpting messages to fit the level of learner and time available. His approach to education both engages and enhances, and he works hard each day to create an environment where students are willing to take intellectual chances. Yousef is generous with his time, serving not only as a teacher but also as a mentor for those who are at earlier points along their educational journey.

At UC San Diego, medical students are educators too as evidenced by the recognition of Nisha Uppuluri (MS2) and Tanya Jain (MS2) who were named recipients of the Student Teacher Award. This award recognizes students who have demonstrated commitment and excellence in teaching and medical education.

Uppuluri and Jain noticed a gap in trauma-informed care in the curriculum, so they created and facilitated an elective course titled “Intersectional Approaches to Trauma-Informed Care (TIC)" with support from the Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion. The course was delivered to first- and second-year students during Fall 2022 and received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Source material for the course highlighted systemic injustices in producing trauma. During the course, students explored their own identities and how they impacted their lives, heard from speakers from community organizations and participated in open and engaging dialogue with community members, faculty and each other. Students reported that the class not only increased their knowledge of TIC but created a space for them to create genuine connections with one another and with folks in the community doing this work. Uppuluri and Jain are now taking steps to ensure the TIC education is more seamlessly included in the curriculum in the future.

Kaiser Permanente Excellence in Teaching

The Kaiser Permanente Excellence in Teaching awards are selected by medical students annually. Through the voting process, each student is encouraged to define what excellence means to them. Faculty members are recognized for teaching in a comprehensible manner, inspiring students, serving as a role model or exhibiting characteristics the students hope to emulate.

2023 Kaiser Award Winners

Winners of this year's Kaiser Permanente Excellence in Teaching award are:

  • First-Year Teaching Award: Geoffroy Noel, PhD, Department of Surgery
  • Second-Year Teaching Award: Dena Rifkin, MD, Department of Medicine
  • Third-Year Teaching Award: Helen Wang, MD, Department of Pediatrics
  • Fourth-Year Teaching Award: Michelle Wu, MD, Department of Psychiatry
  • House Staff Teaching Award: Andrew Yousef, MD, PGY-3 Department of Otolaryngology
  • House Staff Teaching Award: Ian Simpson-Shelton, MD, PGY-3, Department of Medicine

Joyce Pritchett

Communications Specialist, UC San Diego School of Medicine