Alison J. Whelan, MD
Alison J. Whelan, MD ’86, HS ’89, is senior associate dean for education and professor of medicine and of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine. She is recognized for her exceptional work in transforming medical education at Washington University.
A member of the faculty since 1994, Whelan was appointed associate dean for medical student education in 1997. Since that time, she has been a major driving force in overhauling the curriculum, including the way coursework is conducted and evaluated. She is credited with professionalizing the teaching of medical students, with defined goals, objectives, and evaluations for coursework. She also pioneered the use of small group interactive teaching. She coordinated the creation of the Practice of Medicine curriculum and played a key role in launching the Standardized Patient Program. She has been instrumental in developing faculty education programs — training teachers to be better teachers — and in fostering research in medical education methods. In addition, Whelan played a central role in planning the Farrell Learning and Teaching Center.
As associate dean, Whelan organizes teams and working groups to better use core resources, develop collaboration across educational programs, explore opportunities for cross-disciplinary curricula and programs, identify and promulgate best practices, and assess the prospects for new degree programs.
Her expertise as an educator is recognized by her membership on the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) governing board, her current chairmanship of the Step II Committee, and her previous chairmanship of the NBME Step 2 Test Materials Development Committee. In addition, Whelan has been honored with four Distinguished Service Teaching Awards, the Emerson Electric Excellence in Teaching Award, and the Samuel R. Goldstein Leadership Award in Medical Student Education.
Also an outstanding physician, her clinical work centers on clinical genetics with an emphasis on hereditary cancer. Since 1999, Whelan has co-directed the Hereditary Cancer Registry Core at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.
Whelan received her bachelor’s degree from Carleton College in 1981. She earned her medical degree from Washington University in 1986 and completed her postgraduate work and residency at the former Barnes Hospital.
The Washington University Medical Center Alumni Association is pleased to present its Alumni/Faculty Award to Dr. Whelan.