Clinical teaching award winner: Jeff Hall
School of Medicine professor teaches students 'subtle art' of patient care
By Craig Brandhorst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-3681
Dr. Jeff Hall, associate professor of clinical family and preventive medicine with the University of South Carolina’s School of Medicine, dedicates much of his academic energy to creating educational and service programs in both local and international settings.
And his approach, while personal, is also highly demanding.
“Health sciences students learn the most when challenging situations stretch them to the limits of their abilities,” he says. “These times force them to lean on colleagues from multiple disciplines to solve problems and effectively treat patients.”
Two concepts Hall returns to again and again when talking to students are collaboration and experiential learning. “I tell them they will need to work together, and they will need to do stuff,” he says.
Of course, Hall has done plenty of “stuff” during his own career, giving him plenty of practice from which to preach.
Notably, he has spearheaded efforts to create global health opportunities in obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine and pediatrics through the School of Medicine. He has led similar efforts in collaboration with the Colleges of Pharmacy and Nursing.
A longtime champion of point-of-care ultrasound education, Hall has also mentored multiple global health fellows, including one who developed a cardiac ultrasound curriculum for a teaching hospital in Tanzania and another who developed a broad ultrasound curriculum for clinicians in Nicaragua.
My work with students often teaches them to look at the whole patient and their environment and then find ways to effectively deliver needed interventions. This means getting to know patients and connecting to them in a relatable way.
And he has been just as active locally, overseeing his department’s maternity care education program for more than a decade and mentoring residents who have provided care for more than 500 women through the department’s clinic.
“The residents and his advisees frequently comment on the high value of his clinical teaching,” says Dr. E.J. Mayeaux, professor and chair in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.
It’s in the classroom, though, where Hall has the most direct impact, particularly on first- and second-year med students who take his physical diagnosis small group course. Here, they get hands-on instruction on stethoscope and otoscope use, how to examine joints by stretching tendons and ligaments, and most importantly, how to interact on such an intimate physical level with another human.
“It is a delicate issue — not only is the physical exam a subtle art, but students inevitably find that performing it on their colleagues stretches them emotionally,” he says. “Breaking through the barrier of touch to examine a colleague or friend is inherently uncomfortable, and developing a sense of presence with real and respected friends is an important value when they progress to examining strangers in the hospital or clinic.”
Indeed, Hall’s approach to family medicine extends well beyond clinical expertise. At heart, he is a humanist — whether serving in his capacity as a doctor or as an instructor.
“My work with students often teaches them to look at the whole patient and their environment and then find ways to effectively deliver needed interventions,” he says. “This means getting to know patients and connecting to them in a relatable way.”
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