Digital Storytelling Comes to the ER

September 20, 2017 / By

Dr. Shane Jenks is an academic emergency physician at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. That means that in addition to practicing emergency medicine, he also supervises and teaches medical residents. As the assistant program director in charge of the educational curriculum, he is also in charge of all the non-clinical education of residents–classroom time spent in simulated patient scenarios, small group interactions, lecture-based learning, and problem-solving groups.
As Dr. Jenks says, “Dealing with adult learners is challenging, and emergency physicians maybe even more so. They want to see how what they’re learning is directly applicable to what they’re doing that day. They’re not willing to take you on your word that it’s going to be useful. They want to see things in action. That presents a unique educational challenge.”
This is also an audience that needs to get involved. “Medical residents have just finished eight years of rigorous class time,” explains Jenks. “They don’t have the stamina to sit and listen to lectures anymore. They are ready to do things.  That means it is imperative to get them involved and make sure that the learning is interactive. That’s where WeVideo comes into play. It creates an opportunity for two-way learning where material is not just pushed at the student, but provides a forum for them to contribute and share.”
One of the other interesting things Jenks notes about today’s residents is that they all love social media, using their phones, and creating things to share with other people through that format. WeVideo fills that need, supporting a way they’re used to interacting while directly involving their medical education.
For Jenks, teaching isn’t only about teaching emergency room skills. “A big part of being a resident is also being a teacher for other medical students. Getting our residents involved in creating educational materials is a big part of their learning process.”
As part of providing education to residents, Jenks looked for avenues to improve his own skills as a teacher. He’d had extensive medical education, but he’d never learned how best to teach people. His work in achieving a Masters in Education provided his first exposure to digital storytelling and he saw a clear bridge to his goals in medical education.
“A typical primary care doctor might see 12 to 20 patients in a day. In emergency medicine, that volume explodes to 20, 30, or even more and a very high percentage of those present interesting and unique challenges. As in any field, physicians enjoy telling stories about their experiences. Digital storytelling with WeVideo is a great and easy way for them to not only share their cases but share what they’ve learned through the process. It’s a potentially invaluable resource to the community.”
Of course, emergency medicine is exceptionally demanding of its practitioners and burnout is an ongoing concern. Digital storytelling is a powerful outlet for sharing experiences with a community of peers as part of a process of healing from the rigors of the job. Most recently, Hurricane Harvey created a singular opportunity for Jenks to consider digital storytelling in a new light. He and other emergency physicians found themselves effectively locked in a hospital for five days, treating patients around the clock. All the while, they are away from their families, who themselves were under threat.
Jenks sees digital storytelling with WeVideo as an ideal outlet for debriefing physicians, contributing to a shared space where physicians can, in their own time, share about their experiences. He is facilitating the use of digital storytelling to create a social media-based community of practitioners around the world. The accessibility of WeVideo makes it a good fit for this kind of supportive professional community. With some basic instruction on creating audio such as voiceovers and merging that with video, Jenks is creating an easy pathway for physicians to engage.
Jenks freely admits, “I’m not an AV expert at all, but with WeVideo I can sit down and very easily figure out how to use it. It’s all very self-explanatory. I know that means I can hand this tool to today’s residents, tell them to ‘go to town,’ and they can feel confident. It makes it very easy to bring digital storytelling into an environment where the students already have a lot on their plate and don’t have a lot of time to learn another tool.”
Read more about the Emergency Medicine program at Baylor of College Medicine at

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