Himmelfarb Headlines - May / June 2017

Faculty Profile - Interview with Rosalyn Jurjus, Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Regenerative Biology

Faculty Profile - Interview with Rosalyn Jurjus, Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Regenerative BiologyTell us a little bit about your current position or research/projects.
After completing the Master Teacher Leadership and Development Program, my research focused on medical education with the objective of combining my teaching and my scholarly work. In this respect, I work mainly on two topics: adult learning and retention of anatomical science information. In the anatomical disciplines, the knowledge retained from the preclinical courses decreases with time, which creates a significant gap in knowledge between the preclinical and clinical years of medical school. However, with the proper introduction of refreshers or modules before basic surgical specialties, the information recalled and retained can improve to reach appropriate levels. These refreshers, using multiple learning strategies, have proven to be effective in filling the gaps identified in the obstetrics and gynecology specialty.

Here are highlights of two of my ongoing research studies. (see ResearchGate for more publications/research)

Research: Integrated Curriculum: Anatomy Modules
I started research collaborations with various departments at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, particularly the Departments of Pathology, Surgery, and Ob/Gyn. I received a grant from the GW Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning as part of the Spring 2013 Grants for High-Impact Teaching and Learning Practices to conduct a study on retention of anatomical knowledge in the clinical years and build a trial integrated curriculum for ob/gyn (See: Integrated Curriculum: Anatomy Modules - OB/GYN) and for surgery (See: Integrated Curriculum: Anatomy Modules - Surgery). Detail of this work appears in a recent interview I gave to Anatomy Now, (official newsletter of the American Association of Anatomists) .Currently, I am working on the third phase of the project in an international comparative study on curricula and retention.

Research: Microanatomy and Pathology Atlas Web Site
The microscopic anatomy and pathology laboratory experiences for undergraduate, medical, and graduate students are changing from using glass slides and microscopes to employing virtual microscopy via digital technology. We developed laboratory sessions that follow a learner-centered instructional design model we refer to as “PLHET,” reflecting the steps of preparing, linking, hooking, engaging, and transferring learning, and also applied teaching strategies that reflect Kolb’s four styles of learning (accommodative, divergent, assimilative, and convergent).

My interest in adult learning and innovation also led me to start building a histopathology online atlas (Microanatomy and Pathology Atlas, or MAPA). We have recently implemented this tool and will be assessing its effectiveness as a study tool for students. We are testing the hypothesis that principles of e-learning applied to an integrated microanatomy and pathology laboratory in a modular-based curriculum improve medical students’ satisfaction and perceived learning. The results of this study could have implications for other courses within the undergraduate medical curriculum.

How did you become interested in your field?
After I received my medical degree from the American University of Beirut in 2005, I decided to pursue a career as a medical scholar and academician rather than a clinical practitioner. Focusing on this objective, I joined the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at The George Washington University as a postdoctoral fellow doing research and teaching the anatomical sciences (gross anatomy, histology, and embryology). In 2009, I was awarded a PhD in molecular medicine, and I have continued to teach in the anatomical sciences. Since my appointment as an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy and Regenerative Biology, I have taught the anatomical sciences to medical, graduate, undergraduate, and health sciences students. During this period, I also completed the “Master Teacher Leadership and Development Program,” which provided me the opportunity to enhance my teaching skills, better pursue my scholarship in curricular development, assessment, and evaluation, and develop my leadership potential.

What has been your biggest professional challenge?
Each transition in my life has been a great challenge: I have transitioned from a primary care physician to a basic scientist and an educator, I have been fortunate to combine these three distinct experiences to the study of best educational practices in the medical school curriculum. I believe that medical education is facing many challenges; because it is subject to periodic evolvement and continuous innovation, it will need to be constantly examined and reassessed.

What has been your most memorable moment at GW?
Working with and mentor students in various research projects!!! In all my teaching and research projects, I try to mentor and work with students and be a facilitator of learning. I have served as advisor to many graduate, undergraduate and medical students in the medical education or humanities track and have mentored them in various projects. I repeat a key phrase to all my students when they start working with me: “The more you give the project, the more the project will give back to you.” I always stay true to that fact. I give students opportunities to go to national meetings and present the work; many of them have received travel awards or have become semifinalists. Some have been able to present the studies orally and did a great job. I feel very proud when I see them standing out at the meetings. Providing guidance and opportunities for these students to grow professionally, engage in research, attend conferences and publish studies has been very rewarding to me.

What library resources or services have you found to be the most useful?
The librarians themselves! They are an amazing team to work with! Ms. Butera is my “partner in crime” in many research projects. She is a fantastic person to work with, very resourceful and always passionate and enthusiastic about the task at hand. Students and faculty love working with her...me too!

Whom do you admire?
I always looked up to my father (I call him Dr. Jurjus senior!). He is an anatomist and a great researcher and educator. He is my teacher, mentor and role model.

How do you spend your free time? (or what do you do to relax?)
With my little family! With my very supportive and amazing husband and my kids of course! I have the best time with them! Little things that make my days so much fun!

What advice would you give to a new faculty member just starting at GW?
Reach out and talk to others … people are all willing to help if you are ready to ask… especially our librarian team!


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