A Day in the Life of a CE: Audrea Burns

By Jamiu Busari (@jobusar)

Audrea Burns (@AUDREAMBURNS)
Co-Director, Faculty College,
Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital
Houston, Texas, USA

Audrea Burns, PhD, is the Associate Program Director of the pediatric residency physician-scientist program at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital in the United States.  She is the also Co-Director of the Research Mentorship Education Program in the Hematology/Oncology division; as well as Co-Director of Faculty College, a medical education certificate program for Health Professions Educators at Balor College of Medicine that provides training in foundational topics in medical education for developing master clinical teachers.  Additionally, Dr. Burns holds an adjunct faculty position in the Department of Biosciences at Rice University in Houston, Texas where she has created curriculum to provide research methodology and clinical research exposure to undergraduate pre-medical students interested in careers as physician-scientists.

A unified vision for undergraduates and residents

As a clinician-educator, Dr. Burns has spent the majority of her time with two distinct learner populations: undergraduate pre-medical students and residents.  Although the undergraduate students from Rice University are at a local institution, both groups of learners commute to Texas Children’s Hospital for didactic and research practicum. She shares that the scope of her work has recently shifted, with increasing leadership roles expanding beyond her departmental responsibilities to encompass an institution-wide impact.  On the topic of unifying her vision for both undergraduate and residents, Dr. Burns says, “We have the privilege in promoting quality health care for children globally by continuing to strive for excellence in whatever part of the institutional mission we are working on.”

A Passion for Educational Research

As a qualitative researcher, Audrea’s interests focus on developing resident  curricula to support personal professional identity formation.  She achieves this by teaching resident professionalism through a social justice lens, as well as conducting research to understand how professional behavioral anchors are learned.  She holds an interest in fostering professional identity formation through determining factors to support an inclusive learning environment – one that promotes wellbeing and support for residents, with a focus on marginalized ethnic groups.  Dr. Burns strives to expand her efforts to conduct more qualitative research studies in the professionalism domain, with the assistance recently obtained local and national educational grants.

Balancing Contrasting Responsibilities

Dr. Burns splits her time between teaching, research, administration and mentorship.  She spends about 60 per cent on education administration for the physician-scientist program, research mentorship education program, and faculty college; 20 per cent on educational research, 10 percent teaching, and 10 per cent mentoring.

Audrea balances her professional and personal responsibilities by relying on a senior and peer mentorship network. This network provides her with insightful reflections on how to navigate conflicts and integrate work and life priorities.  She confides that she has also learned from failing to achieve this balance, and chooses to see this as learning opportunity to enhance her focus on improvement through continual leadership training and role models.  One of her closest peer mentors is her husband, a business professional with an equally busy career.  Both of them thoughtfully prioritize each others’ career and their vibrant family of three children by mapping out and rotating the children’s activities and obligations based on their individual schedules; which Audrea refers to as a dynamic and evolving process.

Three tips for junior CEs: Be kind to yourself, seek a mentorship team and have FUN!

  • Be kind to yourself. Doing the work of improving health professions education and training is ever expanding and oftentimes we tell our trainees to be well and do not take the same advice.  To maintain your momentum and thrive, it is critical to constantly reassess your personal and professional balance.
  • Seek a mentorship team. Whenever I feel as though I’m losing track and focus, it is usually when I have not had any touch downtime with one of my mentors.  Mentorship is valuable at all stages of your career to help provide objective, clarifying perspective on navigating, oftentimes, competing priorities, and learning how to say yes and no.
  • Have fun and enjoy the journey! Your hard work paves the wave for new and unpredictable opportunities.

Know a CE who you think we should profile on our blog? Send us your nominations at ice@royalcollege.ca! 

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. For more details on our site disclaimers, please see our ‘About’ page