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Erica Traxel, MD, inducted into Washington University’s Academy of Educators

In September 2019, leaders of the Academy of Educators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis inducted their first class of fellows into the program. As part of the Academy, fellows network with each other, promote educational excellence at the School of Medicine and assist in providing faculty development activities in areas like assessment, mentorship and coaching.

This past September, Erica Traxel, MD, reached a significant milestone as a medical educator when she was selected to join the Academy as a fellow.

Traxel, Associate Professor of Urologic Surgery and Director of the Urologic Surgery Residency Program, was among 26 fellows inducted in 2020. The Academy Induction Ceremony took place on Thursday, September 24, and was held virtually.

Membership in the Academy recognizes high achievement in educational excellence. The board receives a large number of applications, which are reviewed by internal and external peer reviewers, and then selected by the Membership Subcommittee. Currently, only School of Medicine faculty with three years’ experience, beyond their last training experience, can become fellows.

As a member, Traxel will attend Academy meetings, committees and events that will further the program’s objectives to build a community of physician and science educators and train faculty in innovative ways to teach in an academic medical setting.

This achievement acknowledges Traxel’s significant contributions to education and recognizes her valuable place as a central contributor in the education mission of the School of Medicine. She has been a member of the Office of Medical School Education (OMSE) Gateway Curriculum Immersion development team. Some of Traxel’s priorities as Director of the Urologic Surgery Residency Program have included incorporation of Patient Safety & Quality Improvement into the educational curriculum as well as efforts to increase diversity within the residency program and to encourage discussion about diversity within the field of urology.

The 2019 American Urological Association Census showed that only 5.9% of practicing urologists are underrepresented minorities and 9.9% are women.

“We are excited by the richness that we know diversity will add to our program and our community,” says Traxel. Of the Urology program’s 18 current residents, three are underrepresented minorities and seven are women. With increased diversity within Washington University’s Division of Urology, Traxel hopes to create a more diverse future for the surgical field.

Alongside Traxel, three other Department of Surgery faculty were inducted into the Academy of Educators: Michael Awad, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Surgery and Director of the Washington University Institute for Surgical Education; Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery and Division Chief of Public Health Sciences; and Bethany Sacks, MD, MEd, FACS, Associate Professor of Surgery.

The Academy is a relatively new program through the Office of Education. It is an “institutional collaboration of educators who together will foster a culture of educational excellence and an institutionally valued community of leaders in health science education,” the Academy writes. The program supports faculty engaged in all aspects of education on campus — those teaching medical students, graduate students, residents and fellows, and trainees in the programs in Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Audiology and Communications Sciences.

The Academy’s vision is to foster an environment where education is highly valued, encourage innovative approaches to teaching, organize mentorship and faculty development programs and support education research in the health sciences through a small grants program.

“We’ve set an ambitious agenda, and we are looking forward to engaging with faculty in years to come,” stated Mary Klingensmith, MD. Klingensmith, who is Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Surgery and the Vice President of the American Board of Surgery, is the Director of the Academy of Educators. “We also are interested in feedback and new ideas about what the academy can and should do to support our education faculty.”