This profile is part of a series designed to highlight the importance and impact of the hospital’s teaching mission and the work of the MGH Executive Committee on Teaching & Education (ECOTE).

Lindsay Carter, MD, is a pediatric hospitalist, PCE Warren House director, and inpatient director for Pediatric Quality and Safety.

Who do you teach and what do you hope they learn from you? How has your teaching style or approach changed over time?
I teach both medical students and pediatric residents, primarily in the inpatient setting. I also run simulations and small group sessions. What I want them to learn is how to think about a clinical problem, rather than what to think. When a student or resident can reason through the facts presented and generate independent ideas, it is incredibly exciting for me. I want them to have confidence in their abilities but they should be led on that journey of building that skill set. It is crucial for them to trust themselves as physicians and as caretakers throughout their career. I have become more patient, more interactive and more creative as time has passed. Not all learners are the same, and it is important for me to adapt my style and technique to those I am teaching. The constant challenge is what makes it so enjoyable.

Tell us about a magical teaching moment.
I was running a simulation for medical students about an infant in respiratory distress. This same group of students had done two previous simulations with me, and we had talked through how to approach a sick child. When this simulation began, initially each student was unsure of roles or how to approach the patient and anxiety levels started to rise. Then, it suddenly clicked. One student assigned roles, everyone began performing their piece of the puzzle, and they started to care for the patient and the mother. They implemented each clinical tool we had talked about previously in a calm, collected manner and did a great job. The most exciting part for me though was seeing the shift in mentality and the growth of confidence in the exercise. One student said to me, “Oh, so that’s what it feels like to be a doctor!” It made my day.

What do you enjoy about teaching?
I love being pushed as an educator. Students ask the most thought-provoking questions; they challenge dogmas that have been around for years just by asking “why.” I then realize I don’t know the answer and we go on the journey together to find out. Teaching means always learning. Every time I learn something new it rejuvenates me as a physician and as a learner. I feel like I’m always increasing my knowledge, honing my skills and enhancing the care I deliver. What I also enjoy about pediatrics is how much we involve families in the education. We often conduct teaching sessions in rooms and involve parents and patients. More often than not, the patient or parent becomes the teacher, and I think it helps families feel appreciated and recognized for their expertise.

What does it mean to you to work at a teaching hospital?My fear is that patients believe a teaching hospital means that they are being practiced upon by students and residents and that there are more mistakes or higher rates of error. To me, it is the exact opposite. Working in a teaching hospital means caring for patients in a place that is at the forefront of innovation with an entire community available to assist in that care. It means having the best resources, the best specialists, the best ancillary services, all at our fingertips. Most importantly, working in a teaching hospital means that as a physician, I cannot get complacent because someone is always asking “why.” I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. These students and residents are fascinating people; they have done incredible things already; they have such rich knowledge bases and life experiences that I feel very lucky to be around them. 

Why is MGH’s commitment to education important?
Education at MGH is one of the core missions of the institution, as it is imperative for the advancement of clinical care. The commitment to education by MGH and all who work here is what makes us so good at what we do. Learners elevate the environment, they ask hard questions, they probe beyond the surface of an issue and they push teachers to work harder. Most importantly, a culture of education is a culture of caring. To deliver the best and most comprehensive care, you must be learning at all times and from all those around you - patients, families and colleagues. For me, I look around and realize that I am training the physicians who will care for my kids one day. That’s all the motivation I need. The students and residents are the future of medicine and we, as educators, get to shape that future. There is no better job.

This article was published in Hotline.