Take 5 with Professor Doug Gould, Ph.D.

Headshot of Professor Doug Gould, Ph.D.As a way to learn more about the diverse educators who share their expertise with our medical school students, OUWB presents a special interview series called “Take 5.” Let us know what you think.

Professor Doug Gould, Ph.D., joined Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine faculty in July 2012. He teaches neuroscience and gross anatomy to medical students and is the chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences. He joined OUWB from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, where he was a professor and the director of the Division of Anatomy for six years. Before that, Dr. Gould was an associate professor at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine for nine years. His scholarly endeavors have focused on the design, creation, implementation and evaluation of learning tools for the modern medical student.  He has secured support from the NIH, NSF and private foundations for his educational scholarship.

Dr. Gould has published more than 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has authored six texts as well as several ancillary-learning tools. In addition, Dr. Gould has served as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the International Association of Medical Science Educators, is an active medical student and faculty mentor, and has served as the chair of the Anatomical Sciences Section of the American Dental Education Association and is the current chair of the Professional Development Committee of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists. His article “The AAA, your Professional Home” was featured in April’s issue of the AAA Anatomy Now newsletter.

Did you have a defining moment that made you think you wanted to go into academic medicine?
My seventh-grade teacher was my stepdad, and he was the best teacher I’d ever had; he ran a very rigorous course and set high expectations; I had to do really well in his class. It was an ecology class, which was really interesting; we covered many aspects of science. We learned all of the bones in the body, and that’s where I first got interested in doing something with biology or the human body.

Did you think you’d want to go into teaching like him?
Yes. All four of my parents were middle school teachers: my mom, stepdad, dad and stepmom. I didn’t have a lot of choice. I was destined to teach.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Well, I just started this job as chair, so I don’t think I’ve settled in well enough to name anything specific. I like challenges, so I think that’s why I’m excited for this job. I think there is a certain type of person who likes to be continually challenged, or else he or she will get bored. That’s what I believe most of the people at OUWB to be. Rather than settling into a job post-college, we set out to achieve another attainable level: graduate school. After graduate school, we still seek a new attainable goal. I think that’s why the faculty system is set up as it is; one achieves levels, from assistant professor to associate professor to professor. I made full professor at age 40 at Ohio State University. I’ve had tons of leadership training, and I wanted to apply it and see how good I’d be with leading faculty members and the department.

When you came to OUWB, did anything in particular about the school resonate with you (its mission, its goals, etc.)?
There were several factors that came together at once and brought me here. The first was the idea of a challenge; I’d been at Ohio State for a while where I was division director and full professor.

Also, Michigan is home. It’s where all of my family and friends live. I have two little girls, both adopted from China, and my oldest daughter was starting to have a lot of problems. She has special needs and friends and socialization have also been a problem for her. We wanted to get her close to home and family.

I knew some people who worked here from professional organizations, including Judy Venuti, and they told me that OUWB is very focused on medical education, and that’s what struck a chord with me. I was at the University of Kentucky for nine years and Ohio State for six; these are both traditional legacy programs.

What are your plans moving forward in your new position?
So, we have roughly 40 faculty members at OUWB. I think that, if you shook some of the other medical schools like the University of Michigan or Ohio State hard enough, you may find 30 or so faculty members who are genuinely teaching-oriented. But, these faculty members don’t know each other; they haven’t worked together. Here, there is this massive group of teaching-oriented faculty who are not only in the same building; but also we’re all on one floor. With the hyper-collegial, humanistic, collaborative culture that the Dean has set up, we have a real opportunity here.

Judy Venuti has done a great job expanding the faculty to reach our number of allocated spots and getting them comfortable and established. The next step is getting them marching in a more similar direction research-wise. This is a prime opportunity to set up three to five scholarly concentrations; I would compare them to umbrellas. We’ll put up these umbrellas, and they’ll be broad enough for everybody to fit under. Each year, we’ll click that umbrella down a little bit and narrow it. And then, when people are starting to make their decisions as to what their next projects are going to be, the focus will begin to converge such that, in a few years, we will have groups of faculty pursuing these more focused aims. Then, you’re going to see some massive forward movement in scholarship out of the department and notoriety for the school.

Lastly, this isn’t as much a goal of mine as an observation, but I should say something about the high-quality students. At the previous schools, I saw a lot of students who were there to get a really good grade at all costs, and not to be collegial or collaborative. Here, the holistic admissions process aims to find students who can do the work, but are well-rounded individuals. Are you a caring person? Have you travelled? Have you seen things that most people haven’t seen? Have you volunteered your time? It’s such a different texture to a medical school than I’ve seen before.

I read that one of your primary research interests is learning tools for the modern medical student? Talk about some of your research and findings.
I have always been pressured, as most everyone here would tell you, to do less teaching with more content. Every year that goes by, more content is added; the human race learns more stuff about health, which has to be conveyed to the students.

My job is to make the information I’ve been unable to cover in the classroom accessible to the students, and to help the students learn how to vet the information and apply it. So, my focus has been pretty heavily driven toward making tools that make this information engaging and meaningful.

Tell us something that a lot of people here don’t know about you?
I’m pretty open…Some may not know that I got married in December.