Melissa L. Davidson, MD


Burlington, VT
[email protected]

Thank you for allowing me to express my sincere interest in being a board member of the Society for Education in Anesthesia. I will try to summarize my passion for education and convey how important SEA has been in my life.

My entire career has been focused in medical education at all levels. Just months after graduating from residency, I was asked to assume responsibility for a nearly non-existent medical student Anesthesiology elective. The reason for choosing me was simple: I shared an office with the outgoing director. Somehow that qualified me for the responsibility of mentoring young physicians! This was to be the best decision I ever made. With no formal training in education I created a new medical student curriculum, which included a take-home exam consisting of open-ended questions that was provided to students on the first day of the elective, with instructions to find the answers “any way you can”. While the original intent was to encourage dialogue between students and faculty in the OR, the outcomes were far bigger. I was fascinated by students’ resourcefulness in those pre-internet days, and my philosophy of a leaner-centered approach in all things educational was borne. I had found my professional purpose.

I was fortunate that Phil Liu became my chair in 1996 and encouraged me to attend the SEA Teaching Workshop. There I met the “best of the best” anesthesia educators who became (and remain) my mentors, colleagues and friends. If anesthesia education had become my purpose, then the work of SEA became my passion. I was honored to be asked to co-direct the SEA Workshop on Teaching with Steve Kimatian in 2006. We have worked hard to continually update the curriculum to meet the needs of our learners. My greatest joy has been meeting the nearly 400 faculty from across the country who have attended this workshop over the past 11 years. I have also been privileged to participate in SEA meetings with many workshop presentations, panel discussions, and abstract submissions, as well as serving on committees including Competencies, Milestones, and Research. I have witnessed SEA’s significant growth through the years as our mission has broadened, not just with increased emphasis on education with ACGME initiatives, but also through faculty development, educational research, and curriculum innovation.

Various leadership positions throughout my career, including Medical Student Director, Program Director, Interim Chair of the department, Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education, and Associate Editor of MedEdPORTAL, has given me a 360-degree perspective of anesthesia education. I believe these experiences would allow me as a board member to appreciate many viewpoints as decisions are made for the benefit of our members and for advancement of SEA’s mission. In addition, serving departments with small residencies allows me to understand challenges being faced by smaller programs, such as limited research funding, mentoring opportunities, etc. My specific goal as a board member would be to respond to and advocate for the needs of small to medium sized programs. My philosophy has always been to do whatever needs to be done to help students, residents, colleagues and programs succeed. Or in the words of Bob Willenkin, to do “whatever it takes to get learners to learn.” It would be an honor to serve the society in this capacity.