Found in Translation: TRP: Reflections in a Looking Glass 

By: Joseph Ferenbok
The Translational Research Program is not a typical graduate degree, it is a mind-set with a specific approach to training.
The TRP is a platform; a set of tools that, when applied, allow its graduates to define their own trajectory, to chart their own direction, and to decide their own path.  The TRP does not teach established ‘facts’ from textbooks that are intended to be recited on tests.
Although not universally true, it is generally accepted that, in medicine, health and care, the processes and contexts for data collection, diagnosis and interventions are undergoing fundamental shifts.  Whether it’s because of the high-costs of the current practices, the technological shift being driven by the Internet of Things, or promise of genetically-driven precision medicine, the pressure to innovate, to do things better and or differently is growing exponentially.
The landscape of careers and professional disciplines is therefore also in radical flux.  So much so, that in most careers, “facts” established today–ways of doing things that are considered standards of care or unquestionable gold-standards of protocol–are likely to look very different in the next 3-5 years.  The days of “teaching” students like assembly-line workers to follow processes and checklists for standardized achievement are increasingly under fire from digitization, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI)—this is increasingly an outdated model of education.
Our mind-set is different.  We are not here to lecture and affirm educational hierarchies of facts and fiction.  Instead, we are united by a belief that our role is to help challenge students so that they may champion positive changes to medicine, health and care.  Our approach is not to “teach” but to facilitate learning that challenges students to drive innovation—to think and problem-solve instead of memorizing and recall.
Rather than try to impose content, we try to facilitate learning.  The process of learning to learn, learning to think, learning to problem-solve; to be flexible and adaptive, to navigate the uncertainty and ambiguity of a rapidly changing economic, cultural and technological milieu.  These competencies, the abilities to observe, reflect, abstract, test, fail and iterate, are at the heart of experiential learning—learning by doing; and they form the bases of an approach in graduate training that rather than focusing on training an individual to fit a specific career path, we focus on helping students develop their own.
You are what you learn to think you are, so shape YOUR potential!
Joseph Ferenbok
Feature Image from Samuel Zeller on Unsplash