Alice Min Simpkins, MD, assistant dean of career development in the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson Office of Faculty Affairs and professor of emergency medicine, has received the University of Arizona Provost Award for Innovation in Teaching, which honors outstanding faculty whose teaching portfolios and instructional effectiveness merit special recognition.
“It is so rewarding to be an educator, to be a part of the journey of future physicians and trainees finding their passions and joy in medicine,” Dr. Min Simpkins said. “I am so honored to receive this Provost Award. The faculty here at COM-T and across the university are doing amazing, innovative things. To be recognized among this group is humbling.”
Since joining the Office of Faculty Affairs at College of Medicine – Tucson in 2018, Dr. Min Simpkins has co-directed Learning to Lead, the leadership development program for faculty. In addition, she envisioned, implemented and leads the College of Medicine Peer Advancement Societies (COMPAS) program, a college-wide peer-mentorship program for early-career faculty.
“COMPAS is centered on the theme of community,” Dr. Min Simpkins said. “COMPAS highlights the value of meeting colleagues outside of one’s own department, engaging in peer mentorship, and building a sense of community to enhance career development and wellbeing.”
Dr. Min Simpkins led a team that developed “CoPE – Communication and Professionalism Education for Emergency Medicine Interns, a novel curriculum to teach first-year residents communication skills for difficult situations, such as empathetically delivering bad news to patients and their families, and navigating challenging conversations with consultants.
“Our CoPE team is made up of several of our emergency medicine residents and an amazing emergency department social worker,” Dr. Min Simpkins said. “This curriculum focuses on developing concrete skills to manage some of the challenges of emergency medicine related to communication and creating a space for emergency medicine interns to share their struggles, and in doing so, normalizes many of the stressors and hardships they encounter every day. I am so proud of the CoPE program.”
As the diversity champion for the Department of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Min Simpkins teaches medical students, residents, fellows and faculty to recognize and address bias and increase awareness to promote equity for members of diverse communities. She also serves as co-chair for the faculty development subcommittee of the Anti-Racism in Medicine program and serves on the steering committee for Women in Academic Medicine. As the college’s assistant dean, she is an ex-officio member of the Faculty Diversity Advisory Committee and helped to build a hiring toolkit for departments to attract and successfully recruit a diverse faculty to teach diverse students.
“The work of the Anti-Racism in Medicine initiative led by our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has created more conversations, many of which would never have happened previously. These conversations are changing the tone, making people think critically, and hopefully changing the culture,” Dr. Min Simpkins said. “I am hopeful that we are creating a working and learning environment in which we are all looking out and standing up for each other, ensuring all voices are heard and valued, and supporting each other to reach our full potential.”
Dr. Min Simpkins developed evidence-based instructional practices, with her research and publications focusing on education in emergency medicine. Nationally, she works with the open-access Academic Life in Emergency Medicine (ALiEM) platform, creating content for the Approved Instructional Resources (AIR) Series, which is widely used by emergency medicine residencies across the country.
She earned the Emergency Medicine Academic Teaching Award three years in a row. In 2015, her gift of innovative teaching earned her selection into the prestigious Academy of Medical Education Scholars (AMES) at the College of Medicine – Tucson. In 2019, this elite group of educators honored her distinguished teaching and educational leadership by electing her as the chair of AMES.
Currently, Dr. Min Simpkins is working on research and program evaluation of the COMPAS and Learning to Lead programs. She also is involved in the development and implementation of the new College of Medicine – Tucson Faculty Excellence Awards that were presented earlier this month.