I am pleased to announce that the Department of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has named Abby L. Spencer, MD, MS, FACP to the position of Vice Chair of Education and Professor of Medicine. Dr. Spencer will also be the new Director of the Academy of Educators at Washington University School of Medicine. Her faculty appointment will begin March 1, 2021 in the Division of General Medicine (formally Division of Medical Education) which has a distinguished history in the Department of Medicine. The General Medicine Division provides leadership and oversight for our medicine residency and primary care training programs, medical education fellowship, medical student clerkships, Center for Outpatient Health, Complete Care Clinic practice at Barnes-Jewish West County, and our inpatient medicine teaching service.
Dr. Spencer comes to us from Cleveland, where she most recently served as Professor of Medicine at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program and Vice Chair for Education for the Medicine Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Spencer graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a BS in Behavioral Neuroscience from Tulane University, and received her MD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She completed her Primary Care Internal Medicine residency at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill-Cornell Medical Center and subsequently completed a fellowship in General Internal Medicine with a concentration in Women’s Health and earned a Master’s Degree in Medical Education from the University of Pittsburgh.
In her role as Director of the Internal Medicine residency program at Cleveland Clinic from 2014-2020, Dr. Spencer led curriculum development, program innovation, teaching, mentoring, leadership development and faculty development. She has delivered over 150 faculty development/educational courses and workshops locally, regionally and nationally. She has won numerous national awards for her teaching, educational scholarship, mentorship, and leadership including the 2016 Society of General Internal Medicine and Association of Chiefs and Leaders in GIM National Brancati Leadership and Mentorship Award, the 2017 SGIM National Scholarship in Education Award, and the 2020 ACGME Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award. She was awarded the Cleveland Clinic Women’s Professional Staff Women’s Champion Award in 2020, which recognizes contribution to the advancement, development and wellbeing of the women professional staff at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Spencer was the recipient of two AAIM innovations grants (faculty development and trainee leadership development). She also received the Henry Walton Prize from the Journal of Medical Education and has won several Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) scholarship in teaching awards over the past few years. She is currently a 2020/2021 ELAM fellow.
Dr. Spencer has held leadership positions in many national organizations, including serving on the SGIM education, mentoring, and annual planning committees and acting as founding faculty for the organization’s National TEACH certificate program. She also was a member of the ACGME Milestones 2.0 working group, the Association for Program Directors in Internal Medicine (APDIM) program planning committee and developed and co-chaired their national mentoring program. She was founding faculty and participated on the National Quality and Safety Educators Academy steering committee, and was elected to the national APDIM Council where she is currently serving a 3-year term.
Dr. Spencer is an innovative and enthusiastic educator. She is exceptional at finding the strengths and potential in others and cultivating their strengths to help them achieve their highest potential. She has dedicated her career to innovating, developing curriculum, building teams, and developing others in medical education. Her passion and skill for teaching have been recognized by her many Med Ed podcast appearances on the popular ACP-sponsored podcast “The Curbsiders,” on the Leadership Edge podcast entitled “Leading by Teaching,” and on the Medicine Mentors Podcast. Dr. Spencer was inducted as a fellow to the Case Western Reserve University Academy of Scholar Educators in March 2019. We could not be more thrilled that she will now be directing the WUSM Academy in 2021.
As Vice Chair of Education, Dr. Spencer will lead initiatives to optimize all medical student education, residency, and fellowship training programs across the Department. She will work closely with the Chair of Medicine, the Senior Associate Dean for Education, the medicine residency and fellowship program directors, GME office and the Office of Medical Student Education to enhance faculty and trainee development, ensure compliance with AAMC and GME guidance and develop new and innovative educational initiatives across the Department.
As Director of the Washington University Academy of Educators, Dr. Spencer will continue to develop the vision, mission, and programs of the Academy including membership selection, budget, educator awards and events, faculty and career development programs, mentoring programs, develop and oversee an annual Education Symposium, oversee, with the Senior Associate Dean for Education, the Loeb Fellowship Program, and partner to enhance educational scholarship. Dr. Spencer will work closely with Dr. Eva Aagaard, Senior Associate Dean for Education and with the Director of the Medical Education Research Unit and the Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs. Dr. Spencer will also collaborate with WUSM Department Chairs, Associate and Assistant Deans for UME, GME and CME, and the Director of the Teaching Center to ensure that educators receive the support they need to excel in their teaching and educational leadership roles.
We look forward to Dr. Spencer expanding and enhancing the educational and scholarly programs of the Division of General Medicine, the Department of Medicine, and School of Medicine through her roles as Vice Chair of Education in the Department and Director of the Academy of Educators at WUSM. Educational faculty development and educational scholarship are particular areas of interest for the Department and the School for which Dr. Spencer has tremendous specialized skills and a longstanding record of excellence. We are very fortunate that she will bring her creative energy, passion, expertise, and talents to existing programs, while also focusing them on the evolving needs of the WUSM educational programs.
Please join me in welcoming Dr. Spencer to WUSM. I am that she will serve as an outstanding Vice Chair of Education and Director of the Academy of Educators at WUSM.
Victoria J. Fraser, MD
Adolphus Busch Professor of Medicine
Department of Medicine