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Robyn J. Blair, MD, FAAP receives 2020 Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award

Robyn Blair, MD

Robyn J. Blair, MD wears many hats at Stony Brook. She’s the Director of Stony Brook Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Residency Training Program, Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Vice Chair for Education, Director of the Resident Continuity Clinic and a general pediatrician who sees patients weekly in East Setauket.

On February 27, she received the Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award, a prestigious honor bestowed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The award recognizes program directors who find innovative ways to teach residents and to provide quality health care while remaining connected to the initial impulse to care for others in this environment.

Said Margaret M. McGovern, MD, PhD, Knapp Professor of Pediatrics, Dean for Clinical Affairs, and Vice President Health System Clinical Programs and Strategy, “This is fitting recognition of Dr. Blair’s hard work, dedication and talent. We are delighted that her work is being recognized nationally.”

Added Carolyn Milana, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Interim Chair, Department of Pediatrics and Medical Director for Quality, Stony Brook Children's Hospital. “Dr. Blair has done some truly innovative work with our residents that we think should be emulated by other institutions. It’s great that this award can bring her work to the forefront.”

One of the many reasons why Dr. Blair earned this award is her determination to help to ensure the wellness of residents, a group known to have a high rate of professional burnout. She created a departmental wellness committee at Stony Brook Children’s that includes interactive workshops, team building exercises, discussions about death and dying in children and confidential group sessions where participants can speak freely about their challenges and concerns.

Included in Dr. Blair’s initiative is a way to help residents understand their value to patients and their families. In the self-assessment surveys, which residents take twice a year, she incorporated questions such as, “How have I contributed to make the world a better place?” and “What have I done that has deeply impacted the life of someone else.” Dr. Blair feels that answering these questions enables residents to have a better awareness of their importance to the patients they serve.

Said Caitlin Keane-Bisconti, MD, one of the residents who trained with Dr. Blair, “She is the perfect example of a resident advocate and teacher. Dr. Blair is beyond devoted to her program and is always looking for areas to improve. Over the past several years, I have seen her foster resident wellness with creative retreats focusing on team building, resiliency, how to find meaning in your work, work life balance, and the list goes on. These include teaching retreats, career planning workshops, reflection rounds, team fitness sessions, and even exciting trips to ‘Escape the Room,’ the local bowling alley, cooking classes, brunch, etc. She is constantly reassessing our resident wellness initiatives and looking for feedback in order to maximize the experience for trainees.”

Another project spearheaded by Dr. Blair was the revamping of Stony Brook Children’s patient safety, quality improvement and quality assurance practices. Said Dr. Blair, “We identify areas that need improvement, look for ways to do that and analyze the results. If we’re seeing positive results, we continue. If we’re not, we make changes until we get the results we want.”

“Dr. Blair has made it possible for all residents to take part in quality improvement (QI), quality assurance (QA) and patient safety. As part of a graduation requirement, all trainees must take part in a QI project. This has been woven into our curriculum through lectures and workshops. In regard to QA, residents are regularly assigned to attend our monthly departmental QA meeting and review patient cases. In fact, we have a patient safety resident who is in charge of selecting a case involving some sort of systems error and analyzing it using a patient safety matrix. These opportunities have greatly supplemented resident education outside of general medical knowledge,” said Dr. Keane-Bisconti. 

Added resident, Sarah Justvig, MD, “Dr. Blair is a fantastic clinician and tireless advocate for resident education. She is a knowledgeable, compassionate and trusted caregiver and resource for her patients and their families. Dr. Blair truly embodies the meaning of a lifelong learner and has instilled that quality in all of us residents. Her genuine care for each of us and our future is exceptional. I am grateful to be among the many whose lives and careers she has touched.”

Said Dr. Blair, “Having the work we do here acknowledged by the ACGME is a great honor and a nod to the importance of innovation and growth in resident training. Enhancing the training we provide to our residents is vital, I think, to preparing them for the real-life challenges they will face, professionally and personally, when they transition to a general practice or further pediatric training. We provide a supportive, nurturing environment, while encouraging autonomy. It is this balance that sets Stony Brook apart from other training programs.”

Click here to learn more about the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award.

2020 ACGME Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award Recipient
2020 ACGME

Robyn J. Blair, MD receives prestigious 2020 ACGME Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award