Impact in Education: P.J. Schenarts, M.D.

January 05, 2018

Image with caption: P.J. Schenarts, M.D.

P.J. Schenarts, M.D.

P.J. Schenarts, M.D., is one of the recipients of the Office of Academic Affairs' 2017 Impact in Education Awards. He will receive the Research in Education Award.

  • Name: P. J. Schenarts, M.D.
  • Titles:
    • Professor of Surgery
    • Vice Chair for Academic Affairs
    • Chief of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care & Emergency General Surgery
  • Joined UNMC: 2012
  • Hometown: Naugatuck, Conn.

Research in Education Award

This award recognizes an individual who has advanced the educational literature through peer-reviewed publications, educational grants and original research.

You are the recipient of the Research in Education Award. What is the importance of research in health care education?
I have found in clinical medicine that many feel that they are subject matter experts in education merely by the completion of their training. Truly understanding how to make an educational impact requires that medical educators objectively test, question and carefully examine the beliefs which we perceive as truths.

Describe your proudest moment as an educator.
My proudest moment as an educator occurs annually, when the medical students match into residency. That morning they are UNMC medical students, and by the end of that day, they identify themselves with their new institution. Just that quickly you realize you have lost them to another set of teachers. The joy is renewed when you cross their paths later in life and knowing that you have contributed even a little bit to their success.

What advice would you give other faculty members who want to have an impact in education?
As a trauma surgeon, I am frequently confronted with contradictory and ever changing priorities. When the clinical situation makes you feel like a "Push Me-Pull You" from Dr. Doolittle -- it is far too easy to forget the students. But if you want to make a serious impact, you must realize this is actually the best time to teach. The student is fully engaged wondering what will happen to the patient and how you will solve the problem. You might well be wondering too. By simply speaking the thoughts that are racing through your head, you will clarify your own thinking while simultaneously engaging the student by demonstrating your own critical thinking skills.

Do you have a favorite quote or philosophy on teaching?

PJ's 4-Line Educational Philosophy:

  • Make what you teach relevant to the student's future needs rather than your own interests.
  • When you're riding at the head of the herd, look back now and then to be sure they are still with you.
  • One cannot teach a whole field of study in a single lecture. Therefore limit your objectives to those that are required for the general practice of medicine.
  • All teaching should be Socratic. Focus on translation of factual knowledge into clinical decision-making. Of course, don't forget Socrates was eventually killed by those he taught.

Richard Johnigan
April 27, 2021 at 5:54 PM

Dr. (Captain) P.J. Schenarts, Thank you for taking the time to mentor me in 1994 at the Investigational Intensive Care Unit at UTMB. I am currently an ENT in Houston, Texas. You were charismatic, intelligent and inclusive back then, and thankfully, I can see that you never changed. Sorry I missed the sushi and Acoustic Alchemy at Rockefeller's years ago! Cheers, Richard Johnigan

Ashish Sharma
January 18, 2018 at 4:17 PM

What an honor! Truly deserved! Congratulations!

January 05, 2018 at 11:30 AM

Congratulations, PJ.

Gary Beck Dallaghan
January 05, 2018 at 5:02 AM

Congratulations, PJ! You are very deserving of this recognition!