Paving a path to a career in medical education

Tamara Vineberg - 25 September 2020

Brandy Stauffer finds time to enjoy nature while balancing her life as an emergency room physician and clinical lecturer.


Brandy Stauffer understands the demands that pediatric residents face. During her residency, she balanced learning clinical skills with hitting the books to study. Now that she is a clinical lecturer in both the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Emergency Medicine, Stauffer often buys meals for her time-strapped residents at the beginning of her teaching sessions. While they are eating, she allows them to sit and unwind before delving into the content.

“As much as we'd love to say that we're great at wellness in medicine, we're terrible at maintaining balance and I see a lot of my residents very tired. You can tell that they're burning the candle at both ends. The last thing anybody needs is to show up, be hungry, tired, and then have me expecting them to learn and to engage,” says Stauffer on why she takes this extra step.

She hails from a family history of teaching. Her father and grandmother were teachers and she benefited from great teachers in her life. Stauffer was drawn to training residents because she enjoys seeing their progress. “I love watching how they figure things out along the way. In the first year, they're nervous when a big resuscitation arrives. By the end of their training, they just walk in with confidence and can do anything,” she says.

Stauffer’s passion is medical education. She completed her post-secondary studies at the University of Alberta three years ago and has already received the department’s Teaching Award by Subspecialty Pediatric Residents early in her career. She’s dedicated herself to improving the curriculum for pediatric emergency medicine and continuing to mentor her residents after they have moved to the next stage of their learning.

During her training in adult emergency medicine, she noticed there were many lectures on pediatrics but there was no curriculum road map. She also heard from other residents that there was not enough pediatric training. Once she completed her fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine and her master’s in health sciences education, she was approached to develop the pediatric aspects for adult emergency medicine. “I was excited about it because I love curriculum development. That's what I enjoyed most about my master’s. I had this extra training from pediatrics and I thought this is a great way for me to use this and give something back to the program,” says Stauffer.

Developing a curriculum and supporting her residents go hand in hand because Stauffer wants them to succeed. “I love my learners. They're fantastic, interesting people, and I like to know how they're progressing along the way. I want to see how they're doing over the next few years as well because I expect great things from them. There are some very smart minds out there,” she says.

Currently, Stauffer balances her time between shifts in adult and pediatric emergency medicine, working on curriculum, and teaching on the side. In the future, she sees medical education taking up more and more of her time. In the meantime, receiving the teaching award has confirmed that she is on the right track. “I put in a lot of hours towards the curriculum and teaching. My hope is that I'm making some differences in my learners’ education. I got teary-eyed and was tickled pink with the department award nomination and was extra surprised when I received it.”

View the Department of Pediatrics awards page