#ACGME2023 Session Summaries: Two JGME Workshops Help Authors Write Compelling Narratives and Communicate through Visual Media

March 7, 2023

Authors often look for an edge in getting their work published, as well as in disseminating and bringing attention to their work, especially on crowded social media platforms and when teaching. To help authors navigate these challenges, the Journal of Graduate Medical Education (JGME) offered two lively, interactive workshops at the 2023 Annual Educational Conference, designed first to help them write a compelling story of their research, and then to create powerful visual media to distill and convey their message online and in the classroom.

Grabbing the Reviewer’s/Reader’s Interest to Boost Journal Submission Success

Imagine how animated you would be when telling someone about the results of an exciting research project that you hope will reach a wide audience. This initial story that you tell can hold the key to a compelling article submission that captures both the reviewer’s and reader’s interest. JGME Deputy Editor Deb Simpson, PhD led this lively session aimed to 1) describe the power of telling one’s story orally before writing it up to enhance reader interest and fill gaps; 2) define what constitutes innovation in medical education; 3) identify critical “grabber” elements of participants’ work; and 4) share practical resources and strategies to enhance writing skills.

Using a modified Forum Theatre model, Dr. Simpson first presented in Act I her own sample idea to the audience and to her fellow senior editors, Nicole Deiorio, MD and Gail Sullivan, MD, MPH. As expected, this act was a bit underwhelming, not quite grabbing the interest of the editors or attendees in the room. But then she moved to the Intermission, during which she asked for feedback: Was it a compelling story? What grabbed you? If not, what’s needed? Using the feedback she received, she reformulated her story as problem→gap→hook, answering the “so what?” question of why it’s important. Finally, she moved on to Act II, reframing her story and having much more success than she saw in Act I.

Then came the participants’ turn. Working in small groups, attendees presented their own ideas and received insights from colleagues using the same two-act play structure for each person. The results for many were just as dramatic, with feedback helping them to find the compelling story in their idea.

Bam! Zap! Pow! Visual Media for Teaching and Medical Education Scholarship

When session participants first entered the room, they were immediately and cheerfully encouraged to sit toward the front and fill tables so they could work together. It was clear right away that this would be a creative and interactive session designed for visual and non-visual/tech-savvy participants alike.

Led by JGME’s new Resident Visual Media Editors Caroline Coleman, MD and Tyler Daugherty, MD, along with Drs. Sullivan, Deiorio, and Simpson, the presentation first explored the various modes of visual media currently being used—visual abstracts, infographics, and tweetorials—along with why they are beneficial in education and dissemination. They also introduced multimedia design principles, such as eliminating the extra, highlighting the essential, and linking the senses, along with what kinds of fonts and color combinations are most effective.

Participants were then given time to work in groups to create their own visual media based on a sample article, using PowerPoint templates or old-fashioned paper and markers. No matter what tools were used, participants came away feeling more confident about creating their own visual media, regardless of their level of graphics skill or experience. The small-group sessions were lively and the results impressive.

JGME now encourages authors of accepted articles to create visual abstracts and offers guidance on how to do so. But whether or not you attended the session or have an article coming out soon in the journal, you can still find helpful guides and tips on the JGME website.

The editors of JGME were thrilled to gather once again with the graduate medical education community and to foster such lively collaboration and learning. They look forward to seeing many of you again next year at #ACGME2024!