Teacher of the Year Award for Jason Homme, M.D. — ‘Dad, you’re up there’
Jason Homme, M.D. (MED ’99, PD 02, PDCMR 03), Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, remembers when he was a resident and had the privilege of presenting a Teacher of the Year Award to Philip Fischer, M.D.(PD ’99, Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine), who he describes as a teaching mentor. Just three years later, Dr. Homme received his first Teacher of the Year Award from the Mayo Fellows’ Association.
This year Dr. Homme received his fifth Teacher of the Year Award. He also will wrap up his role as program director of the Pediatrics Residency Program after nine years and says he’s going to miss it. “I’d probably do it forever if they’d let me. Professionally, leading the residency program is one of the most satisfying things I’ve done. I enjoy helping trainees move from the beginner level to a place where they feel confident and comfortable caring for patients and teaching others. It’s true joy.”
“If my office were burning down, I’d grab the photo of my wife and my Teacher of the Year awards over all the other plaques and diplomas.”
What’s your teaching style?
In the hospital during bedside teaching or on rounds, I like shorter teaching points focused on general principles that can be applied to other patients. I want to make sure residents learn something from every patient.
I like facilitated discussions and teaching mixed groups of different levels of learners. I always have a dry erase marker in the pocket of my sports coat to I can write on white boards, windows and anywhere else I can illustrate a clinical pearl.
Part of the role of the educator is to figure out what makes sense to each learner. A good educator helps you figure out how you can accomplish a task.
What’s most rewarding about teaching?
It’s rewarding to see the aha moments when you see trainees think to themselves, “I understand something now that I didn’t understand before.”
It’s gratifying to receive email, text messages, phone calls and holiday cards from former trainees, saying they were well prepared for the next step of their career.
What’s challenging about teaching?
It’s important for educators to be flexible. You can have down the basics of teaching and then come across a student who’s struggling and you have to adjust your approach. I try to diagnose the root of their challenges and get to the root of what’s holding them back, whether it’s a learning difficulty, trouble organizing information or anxiety. I adjust my strategies to meet their needs. This takes more time and effort, but individualized education is important.
Early intervention usually is best rather than waiting to see if things sort themselves out. People don’t come to work every day with a goal of messing up. Not addressing problems early can lead to bad habits that are hard to break. I try to normalize the next steps and areas to improve.
Did you struggle as a student?
If there were a spelling requirement to get into medical school, I would have a different job. Spelling was my challenge.
In elementary school, my teacher told the class we could have a popcorn party if I got 100 percent on the spelling test. I studied hard and didn’t let my class down. My struggle with spelling taught me that no one is naturally good at everything. Sometimes you have to work harder at certain things.
Who are your teaching role models?
Phil Fischer is a gifted educator who I have tried to emulate. He is encouraging and has a way of putting people at ease, removing barriers and creating a safe environment in which to learn. Trainees feel OK saying things they’re not sure are right, understanding that the atmosphere is for learning, not impressing others.
Chuck Rohren (I ’75, Division of Community Internal Medicine) is another who I emulate. He encourages autonomy and is great at follow-through. If he says, “Read this, and we’ll discuss it tomorrow,” you can bet you will discuss the topic the next day.
How do you know when you’ve done a good job teaching?
Sometimes former trainees come back and tell you that you were a good teacher, which is nice.
When I see trainees in action in the clinic, hospital and emergency department, and they do things well that I taught them, it’s gratifying. We’re all a combination of ourselves and bits of other people. It’s rewarding to see bits of myself in my trainees.
It also feels good when trainees want to educate others — to become teachers.
How does it feel to receive a Teacher of the Year Award?
This is the highest professional honor I can receive. If my office were burning down, I’d grab the photo of my wife and my Teacher of the Year awards over all the other plaques and diplomas.
I really love teaching, and I’ve worked hard to improve. There are so many gifted educators in our department that it’s hard to describe how it feels to be singled out. I enjoy working with the residents, so the award means so much. I always want to be in contention for the award because it means I’m improving as an educator.
Last weekend I went in to my office to sign some papers, and I had my two youngest kids with me. We walked through the Gonda Building, and the huge posters of Teacher of the Year Award recipients were on display. My kids looked up and said, “Dad, you’re up there.” That felt pretty good.
- “Dr. Homme is a great educator. He is fully committed and invests so much in knowing the learner and optimizing an individualized teaching approach for each learner. He works closely with residents to improve our scientific presentation skills.”
- “He is always available to help, support and empower every learner. He’s a great advocate for residents. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award than Dr. Homme.”
- “I love Dr. Homme’s teaching sessions on ‘residents as teachers.’ He’s a great teacher in all perspectives.”
- “We just found out that this will be his last year as program director. This will be an enormous loss to the pediatrics residency. Dr. Homme exemplifies the role of teacher, mentor and leader. He is immensely passionate about teaching and puts a huge focus on teaching us and teaching us how to teach.”