Graduate Calls on MEHP Training During Beirut Disaster

By Karen Blum

Emergency physician Sandra Mrad, MD, MEHP ’20, was across town when the Beirut port exploded in August, ripping the city to near shreds, eventually killing more than 178 people and leaving another 6,500 people injured. In a rush of adrenaline, Mrad had no choice but to ride a motorcycle bike through the city to the American University of Beirut Medical Center, where she worked in the ER.

There, Mrad and colleagues cared for over 800 patients that first day, not all of whom survived. Stationed in the “Red Zone” caring for the most critically ill patients, she recalls family members asking after loved ones—desperately wondering if they were dead or alive. As an emergency team leader, she applied emotional intelligence skills learned in Johns Hopkins Master of Education in the Health Professions courses to put her emotions aside to save as many people as possible and make critical decisions, she says. It wasn’t until the next day that she could decompress and cry.

“Thinking retrospectively about my actions during this difficult time, I cannot but acknowledge the impact of the MEHP training, and specifically the leadership courses, on the way I reacted to, contained, and was able to navigate the harsh realities of this tragic crisis,” she says. “As an educator, I encourage every health care worker who was impacted by this explosion to take the opportunity to learn from this devastating event through reflection and setting plans for rising again, stronger than ever before.”

Mrad discovered her interest in education during her residency training at the AUBMC. As chief resident, she helped revamp the two-year residency curriculum, served on several committees, and delivered numerous hands-on workshops and lectures to medical students and colleagues. She also was a clinical instructor for the Advanced Trauma Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Trauma Life Support provider courses.

After residency, Mrad pursued a medical education fellowship at AUBMC and, searching online, found the MEHP program. A Johns Hopkins physician friend, and positive online reviews, persuaded her to enroll.

As a fellow, Mrad taught emergency medicine residents and medical students rotating in the AUBMC ER, including conducting weekly teaching rounds, case-based discussions, and mentoring. She also developed a new evaluation process for medical trainees, based on formative assessments and feedback. Additionally, Mrad developed three medical curricula in evidence-based medicine, simulation, and clinical toxicology, all of which are being implemented in the AUBMC’s residency curriculum.

Through MEHP, Mrad focused on bedside teaching—focusing on assessing patient, medical student, and faculty perceptions toward this technique, and building a novel bedside teaching model that accounts for cultural backgrounds, local concerns, and patients’ considerations. The model aims not only to enhance the educational process of residents and medical students but also to improve the therapeutic relationship between health care providers and patients, and drive engagement of patients in the medical decision-making process.

Recently, Mrad moved to the United Arab Emirates, where she is practicing as an emergency medicine specialist at Mediclinic Parkview Hospital in Dubai. She says the MEHP program helped her stand out as both a physician and medical education professional.

She also credits her MEHP mentor, Anne Belcher, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, with seeing her through.

“Entering the program from another continent was scary, but having Dr. Belcher as a mentor, especially during the last three months of the MEHP program, was what helped me make it through,” she says. “The program has so much support…. They knew I had it in me to finish the program even though there were days where I thought I couldn’t do it.”

Belcher says Mrad “exemplifies the excellence of our MEHP graduates.”

“Sandra is an amazing person—a dedicated clinician, a skilled educator, and a committed citizen of the world,” she says. “I have learned much from her about the culture of Lebanon and its people, as well as the challenges of being an emergency medicine physician and teacher in such a high-stress environment. It was so rewarding to work with her on her capstone project; her energy, intelligence, and dedication to high professional and personal standards were, and continue to be, inspiring.”

Sandra Mrad, MD, MEHP ’20