Dr. David Rubin plans to apply innovative approach to expand the MGH Institute’s myriad continuing education course offerings to new audiences

It’s one of the most preeminent brands in healthcare – Massachusetts General Hospital – a name instilling confidence in healthcare, research, and clinical education.  Now, the MGH Institute of Health Professions’ Continuing Education and Professional Development arm is joining forces with a hospital partner and will be led by a trailblazer in this arena.

David H. Rubin, MD, the Executive Director of the MGH Psychiatry Academy, began a new role this month as the Institute’s inaugural Dean for Continuing Education and Professional Development; he will continue in his role in Psychiatry.

“David and his team bring tremendous experience along with a track record of innovation in shaping high impact training for working healthcare professionals to advance their knowledge and skills and apply the latest evidence in caring for patients, families, and communities,” said Reamer Bushardt, PharmD, PA-C, DFAAPA, the Institute’s Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Through successful prior collaborations made possible through our teams’ involvement in the hospital’s Slavin Academy for Applied Learning in Healthcare, we learned we could increase our impact and better serve our communities by working closer together. The Institute and the Psychiatry Academy share the same values and commitment to highest quality education and cutting-edge healthcare that distinguish the Massachusetts General Hospital as a national leader.”   

Since Dr. Rubin began leading the MGH Psychiatry Academy in 2016, its offerings have grown exponentially as it has engineered new ways to learn and engage healthcare professionals seeking to advance their education and keep current with the latest evidence and effective approaches for clinical care.  Aside from a diverse set of live and on-demand courses, conferences, and workshops, Rubin and his team are leading a publishing business, research and special projects focused on current challenges in healthcare, and the novel MGH Visiting, a consulting arm that connects hospital clinical leaders and faculty with other institutions and organizations that need help for a program in distress, guidance to build and implement new clinical services, or tap MGH faculty to temporarily lead a department or unit.

Today, the MGH Psychiatry Academy annually runs dozens of continuing education programs around the world, has grown its online library of professional development offerings, is publishing numerous books, and operates consultant and advisory teams that work with partners to improve care in areas across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. More than 90,000 participants within 127 countries take advantage of these offerings to meet their educational and professional development needs.

Rubin plans to leverage the same technologies, creativity, and expanded audiences to share the Institute’s continuing professional development offerings and faculty expertise nationally and globally.

“The Institute faculty bring new fields of expertise and experience to what the Psychiatry Academy offers, including nursing, rehabilitation sciences, health professions education, healthcare administration, data analytics, and medical simulation,” said Rubin. “The Institute’s research centers are also focused on timely issues such as climate change and health; justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion; and interprofessional collaborative practice within healthcare and translational research teams that are important to bring forward to clinical teams and healthcare organizations.”

Rubin sees the potential to grow the Institute’s continuing education programs and impact on a national and global scale. He believes it is a matter of finding and reaching the right audiences.

“A lot of what we will do is restructuring how courses are presented,” said Rubin, who also leads the MGH Department of Psychiatry’s Division of Professional and Public Education.  “The Institute is developing exceptional content, but we need to increase awareness, connect with health professionals who are committed to lifelong learning, and partner with institutions that are looking to improve the quality and impact of the care they provide.”

Disruptive, intended with a positive connotation, likely best describes the way forward for Rubin and his expanded team in this new collaboration between the MGH Psychiatry Academy and the Institute of Health Professions.  For too long, much of what is available to support continuing education for working professionals has involved passive learning and fallen short of cultivating a commitment to lifelong learning. Rubin says his team embraces unconventional approaches to help practicing professionals face complex, real-world challenges in caring for patients and communities. His goal is to maximize active learning, provide those being trained with opportunities to practice what they learn, and help them leverage teamwork to create the best possible outcomes. A few recent offerings illustrate how the team is pursuing those goals:

  • Introducing a nutritional psychiatry program designed like a Food Network cooking show, where experts actually cook real recipes while giving their lectures to connect the dots between food, mental health, and the psychology of family meals.
  • To improve access for active-duty military and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder but who weren’t seeking help, the team collaborated with well-known actors to put on national theatrical performances of a Greek tragedy, then brought in experts to engage the military audience and their families with the goal of inspiring and facilitating those afflicted to seek care.

“If there are elements that can be entertaining, I think that can separate you from a world where there's just so much staid education,” said Rubin, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “You have so many choices. So, you really need something that is compelling.”

“The reason the Institute exists is to serve our community, and we do that by preparing competent and caring health professionals, undertaking health-related research that matters to those we serve, and by improving healthcare and advancing health equity,” said Bushardt. “I am confident that our ability to deliver on these commitments will grow through David’s leadership and the collaboration with the MGH Psychiatry Academy.  In fact, I hope we can foster many more collaborations across Mass General to leverage the significant breadth of expertise and to enable us to deliver even more value to the many constituencies we support.”

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