Faculty Spotlight

Larisa Odessky, PharmD

Transforming Healthcare Education with Technology

In this Faculty Spotlight, we had the privilege of interviewing Larisa Odessky, PharmD, Assistant Professor in the UMB Physician Assistant Program. Dr. Odessky shared valuable insights on integrating new technology into courses and the benefits it brings to students.

When it comes to introducing new technology in the classroom, Dr. Odessky emphasized the importance of not being fixated on the technology itself. Instead, she stressed the need for solid instructional design that aligns with the desired learning outcomes. Technology should be viewed as a tool to achieve those outcomes, rather than a mere playground for fun and experimentation.

Dr. Odessky introduced EHRGo, a program that simulates an electronic health care record, to enhance the learning experience. It not only replaced the traditional patient folders with comprehensive patient data but also allowed the inclusion of patient pictures, personal stories, progress notes, and previous admissions. This holistic approach enabled students to form a complete picture of the patient and move beyond a linear understanding of clinical cases.

Initially, students faced challenges with the transition from multiple-choice assessments to actively seeking information and making connections. However, Dr. Odessky facilitated their learning process by providing them time to familiarize themselves with the program and offering a safe space for their clinical decision-making. The first submission allowed students to seek feedback without penalties, while the second submission was graded, focusing on problem-solving.

The results were outstanding. Students found the experience practical and beneficial, as it closely resembled real-life scenarios encountered during clinical rotations. The authenticity of the learning environment increased their investment in getting it right and fostered critical thinking and investigative skills.

From her experience, Dr. Odessky offers valuable advice to faculty members considering the integration of new technology into their courses. First and foremost, she highlights the importance of designing the course with clear outcomes in mind, using technology as a means to achieve those outcomes. Faculty should avoid becoming overly enamored with the technology itself and remember that it is a tool to support their teaching goals.

Additionally, Dr. Odessky emphasizes the need for faculty members to invest time in becoming familiar with the technology before implementation. This includes experimenting with the software, anticipating potential challenges, and troubleshooting issues. By dedicating sufficient time to understand the technology, faculty members can ensure a smooth integration and address any concerns that may arise during the course.

Dr. Odessky's experience with integrating technology into the UMB Physician Assistant Program highlights the transformative power it can have on student learning. By approaching technology as a tool to enhance instructional design and align with desired outcomes, faculty members can create engaging and authentic learning experiences. Dr. Odessky's insights serve as a valuable resource for educators looking to leverage technology effectively in their teaching methodologies.

The authenticity of the learning environment increased their investment in getting it right and fostered critical thinking and investigative skills.