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Teacher of the Year Award for Emily Leasure — inspiring others to be ‘better, kinder physicians’

Emily Leasure, M.D. (PCIM ’16), Division of Community Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, received her second Teacher of the Year Award this year. She says she was drawn to Mayo Clinic from another institution specifically for the opportunity to teach. “I could sense the collective force of others who felt as passionately about teaching the future work force as I do.”

Her passion shines through to trainees. One resident who nominated her for the award said Dr. Leasure “inspired me to be a better, kinder physician who listens first and treats second.”

Dr. Leasure says the comments from trainees mean everything to her. “This is why I teach. Their comments and the award make me want to keep doing what I do and keep working on my teaching skills. I will reread the comments when I have a bad day.”

Emily Leasure, M.D., accepts a Teacher of the Year award from resident Frederique St Pierre, M.D. (I ’20)

What’s your teaching style?

I bring a lot of enthusiasm to whatever the topic is even if it’s just something like clinic work flow and processes. Trainees seem to consistently respond positively to enthusiasm.

I intentionally emphasize communication in my teaching. It’s an area where I feel like I can bring something to the table — how to connect with the patient at the bedside and in the clinic, how to really listen to patients and focus not only on what we say to them but also how we say it. I debrief with trainees after these encounters because it’s so important.

What’s most rewarding about teaching?

I like getting benefit twice for one action: if I have an effective teaching moment, the patient leaves with a better experience and so does the learner. I like to think that it has the power to affect future the trainee’s patients and their future learners.

What’s most challenging about teaching?

No matter how you attempt to teach, you have to be really flexible to meet learners’ needs on different days. That requires constantly refining your art of teaching and seeing what learners need from you that day rather than focusing on your preset teaching plan.

Did you ever struggle as a learner?

In my first year of medical school, I had a big transition when I learned I couldn’t just cram the night before an exam like I’d always done. I needed to study in a meaningful way since the information and concepts would affect my future patient care. That was a paradigm shift over about six months.

How do you handle struggling students?

I like to partner with students and explore what they’re experiencing. I inquire first whether they’ve already identified ways I can help them. I think students come out stronger when they’ve struggled. We’ve all struggled at some point.

Who are your teaching role models?

I’ve been extremely lucky to be exposed to amazing teachers everywhere I’ve worked. I could name a couple at each institution where I trained or practiced. I love picking up something unique and special from each teacher around me. I constantly look for what other people do well that I don’t do. I noticed one colleague was really good at reinforcing what residents did well before diving into a case. I can always find something useful to take from each of my teaching colleagues .

How does it feel to receive a Teacher of the Year award?

I received the award last year, too, and both were a big surprise — a shocking honor. I didn’t expect to get it again. I consider my division peers to be wonderful and incredibly talented in the academic role. To be considered in the same category with them is overwhelming.

Trainee comments

  • “Dr. Leasure is very invested in all residents. She’s extremely eager to tackle difficult teaching cases and summarize them in a way that makes sense. Her enthusiasm for patient care shines through, and she consistently finds teaching points on every patient.”
  • “She provides valuable feedback about how to handle difficult situations with patients and allied health staff as well as improve bedside manner. She coached me on ways to improve my communication with a patient who was reluctant to take steps to improve his health. I learned to congratulate the patient on the small improvement steps he had taken and to not overwhelm him with too much information. I applied Dr. Leasure’s feedback to subsequent encounters with great results.”
  • “Her energy and problem-solving acumen have inspired me to be a better, kinder physician who listens first and treats second.”
  • “Dr. Leasure consistently models what it means to be a good communicator with patients and colleagues. She is amazing!”

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