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School of Medicine names new leader for medical education

Eva Aagaard noted for innovation in training future doctors

by Kristina SauerweinMay 31, 2017

University of Colorado

Eva Aagaard, MD, a highly regarded physician and educator at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, has been named senior associate dean for education at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Her appointment, which begins Sept. 1, was announced by David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“I am thrilled to welcome Eva to Washington University School of Medicine,” Perlmutter said. “She is a visionary with a glowing reputation nationally and internationally for her leadership and innovation in medical education. Additionally, she has a deep understanding of educational theory and practice that will benefit our current and future leaders in medicine.”

Aagaard’s philosophy reflects the School of Medicine’s educational mission that has distinguished it as one of the nation’s premier medical schools: commitment to excellence and collaboration across scientific and medical disciplines.

“I am honored to join Washington University’s world-class medical school,” said Aagaard, who has served at the University of Colorado as a professor of medicine, associate dean for educational strategy and founding director of the university’s Academy of Medical Educators, which works to create an environment that promotes and rewards teaching excellence and enhances education.

“I am excited about working with an outstanding team of leaders and educators to carefully blend time-tested with new and innovative strategies to mold the education and training of students and residents who already possess incredible talent and drive,” Aagaard said. “It is something I am passionate about. I believe Washington University is incredibly well-positioned to lead the nation in the future of medical education.”

Aagaard succeeds Alison J. Whelan, MD, who joined the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) as its new chief medical education officer in October.

Since then, Mary E. Klingensmith, MD, the Mary Culver Distinguished Professor of Surgery and vice chair for education in the Department of Surgery, has served as the interim senior associate dean for education.

“We owe great thanks to Mary Klingensmith, who has served admirably in the interim position,” Perlmutter said “She is an exceptional medical educator who has served in many leadership roles locally and nationally, and she has made numerous important contributions in medical education in the areas of surgical education, procedural training and use of simulation in training, among others. We look forward to working with Dr. Klingensmith in additional educational and leadership roles here.”

Victoria J. Fraser, MD, head of the Department of Medicine and the Adolphus Busch Professor of Medicine, led the national search committee that selected Aagaard. “Eva Aagaard was selected from an outstanding pool of candidates,” Fraser said. “She is described by many as a person of incredible intellect, an extraordinary communicator and a highly effective leader who has dedicated her career to medical education.”

At the University of Colorado, Aagaard serves as founder and director of the Academy of Medical Educators, a campus group that offers faculty certificate programs in medical education and leadership, one-on-one coaching, a longitudinal and online curriculum for faculty development and a residents-as-teachers program, among others.

Aagard also is director of the Center for Advancing Professional Excellence, a standardized patient and simulation center for medical students, residents and fellows, students in related programs such as nursing, physical therapy, public health and pharmacy and faculty development programs on communication skills.

She has served in national leadership positions with the American Board of Internal Medicine, National Board of Medical Examiners and the Society of General Internal Medicine. In those roles, she has collaborated with the AAMC and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

“These positions have provided me with significant insight into the challenges facing medical education today, the dynamics of leading in a premier medical school and the complex financial issues facing medical schools and their clinical partners,” Aagaard said.

A noted mentor for women in medicine, Aagaard works with dozens of committees and programs nationally and at the university level. “Mentoring women is important because they often lack access to mentors,” she said. “Having a trusted colleague to help pinpoint priorities and identify ways to achieve goals can help them overcome unique challenges.”

Aagaard earned her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in 1995. She completed her residency and fellowship in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She joined the faculty there in 2000 and the Colorado faculty in 2006.

She and her husband, Russ Aagaard, a small-business owner, have two children.

Washington University School of Medicine‘s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked seventh in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Kristina covers pediatrics, surgery, medical education and student life. In 2020, she received a gold Robert G. Fenley Writing Award for general staff writing from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and in 2019, she received the silver award. Kristina is an author and former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Los Angeles Times, where she was part of a team of journalists that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for breaking news. Additionally, she covered the 2014 Ferguson unrest for TIME magazine and, for eight years, wrote a popular parenting column for