Expert Skills Program
"I'm beginning to notice some improvement!"
Pablo Casals' reply when asked why, at the age of 93, he continued to practice the cello for three hours a day
(from an interview with Pablo Casals, master cellist)
The Expert Skills Program (ESP) was implemented in March, 2012, as a free access professional skill development opportunity for all interested students regardless of their institution. The ESP teaches any willing student how to seek and notice improvement throughout their lives.
Each of four areas of the brain cortex involved in thinking like a physician is associated with a separate skill.
Most students enter medical school with the "memory" skill well developed but unaware that they will fall short unless they develop the remaining skills. The medical curriculum does not teach these skills - they assume the students already have them developed. The result is that most students are unprepared for the integrative learning required in medical school and this leads to significant stress. "Expert skills" was chosen for the program title to describe the goal of developing all four of the learning skill areas of the brain to better cope with the thinking needed in both courses and clinic.
- The development of expert thinking skills has also been applied to other clinical skills such as diagnostic reasoning, patient examination, and communication.
- The ESP teaches a learning method for courses that also applies to learning in the clinic. This improves grades in courses and while it improves the acquisition of clinical reasoning skills.
- The concept that has emerged as the key to superior skill development is Deliberate Practice (DP). This is the core concept in the Expert Skills Program at Texas Tech.
A program is a planned series of events aimed at a specific outcome. The ESP is a planned step-by-step series of activities designed to help students with any background to develop their thinking and test taking skills.
- The ESP is designed to extend from the point of admission to medical school throughout the first two years of medical school - some clerkships and residency programs around the US are also using an adaptation of the ESP question analysis method (referred to as ESP Step 1 Preparation).
- The program has three coordinated activity blocks representing activities before matriculation, at matriculation, and during the curriculum.
- Most of the "teaching" time in the ESP occurs early and tapers off as "application" and practice increases - theoretically for a lifetime.
A program like the ESP can employ one or more methods as a part of the activities. However, a program is based on a rationale that supports the intelligent use of those methods.
- A program tends to place the learner in charge of their outcome
- A method places itself in charge of the learner's outcome.
The ESP is based on the Growth Mindset research that shows that learners are more successful when they understand the way learning occurs. The application of brain research, skill development research, and personality type research each learner to personalize and adapt their learning to each unique situtation. The learner is always in charge.
Since the ESP is voluntary, you can simply click on the link below to Block 1 and follow the directions. Howver, if you would like to be added to the mailing list, just send an email to the admissions office asking to be registered.
- The mailing list will be used to send regular newsletter updates to help you use the ESP more effectively and efficiently.
- We also will send some short survey links to learn more about how ESP is being used and how to do a better job of teaching it.
Actually, there is nothing to record. You aren't graded on anything nor do you turn in anything. You will always receive support when you ask for it, but we don't view the ESP as an ordinary course. Try to view it as a life-long personal and professional growth course. That makes it very individual and very private - and very flexible. It's yours to share with others as your interest dictates.
The ESP was created as an academic project and is provided with free access to all who are interested. The only material that is restricted by password is the practice exam resource, however, that can easily be replaced at other institutions using the same commercial resources that we have. Thus, the only cost is the time that you spend.
Newly accepted TTUHSC SOM students will receive an invitation to join this program by email shortly after they notify the admissions office that they have accepted our offer of admission. A second email is sent to welcome the student to the program with brief directions for getting started.
Go to the link below for ESP Block 1 and begin. Links to all three blocks are listed for your convenience and they are duplicated at appropriate locations at this website.
ESP Block 1: Self-Study Activities – A discovery activity
ESP Block 2: Orientation Week Training Workshops – An application activity
ESP Block 3:Step 1 Preparation – A skill development activity
- ESP Thinking About... Concept Mapping - first update informs students of support function for updates. Helps them feel less isolated through communication and also provides information aimed at lowering the stress of adaptation to medical school.
- ESP Thinking About... Recall and Recognition - Shows shift from recognition on exam performance to recall thinking. Introduces how exams have changed from premed.
- ESP Thinking About... Decide-Act-Sleep - Demystifies forgetting by showing the role of sleep in memory. Introduces "decide-act-sleep" as a way to hack your brain while you study.
- ESP Thinking About... Growth Mindset and Deliberate Practice - Introduces research findings on success factors in academic performance. Emphasizes learning as a skill comparable to sports and athletics.
- ESP Thinking About... The Ideal Personality Type - Exposes myths and misunderstanding of type as a stereotype. Encourages deliberate practice to "balance" type skills needed by skilled physicians.
- ESP Thinking About... What do I do now? - Further exposes myths concerning medical education to provide the groundwork for "The Magnificent Seven." Seven individual, specific actions that students can use to take action and make their time count.