SMHS Faculty Spotlight
SMHS Faculty Spotlight
CFE (Center for Faculty Excellence)

GW School of Medicine & Health Sciences Center for Faculty Excellence 

November 2023 Faculty Spotlight

Excellence in teaching & learning, scholarly endeavors, and leadership are all around us at GW. The Center for Faculty Excellence would like to Spotlight our faculty’s contributions. Each month, we will spotlight faculty from across the GW Academic Medical Enterprise. We thank our highlighted faculty members for sharing their advice and perspectives with us!
- SMHS Center for Faculty Excellence
Dr. Simranjeet S. Sran, MD, MEd, CHSE, FAAP
Join the CFE as we highlight Simranjeet (Simran) S. Sran, MD, MEd, CHSE, FAAP, who discusses his journey within Neonatology and his role as a Co-Director within the Practices of Medicine (POM) course, his leadership as the Director of Education for the Simulation Program at Children’s National Hospital, and his research interest in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Interprofessional Education (IPE).


Simran S. Sran, MD, MEd, CHSE, FAAP, is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The George Washington University and a Neonatologist at Children's National Hospital. He is the Director of Education for the hospital-wide Simulation Program as well as the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. He serves as the Neonatology Rotation Director for pediatric residents and Co-Director for the Practice of Medicine course at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at GWU.

His interests are in medical education for trainees and students, including utilizing simulation to further diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and reducing bias in admissions processes.

Interview Q/A

How long have you been at GWSMHS/Children's? What drew you to your current position?
Simran: I came to Children’s/GW in 2015 as a Neonatology fellow and later became faculty in 2018. As I became more involved in SMHS, I completed the Master Teacher Leadership Development Program and then went on to obtain my Master's in Education in 2022. During this time, I became a Practice of Medicine (POM) instructor, and eventually, this experience allowed me to take on a role as a Course Director.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in Neonatology?

Simran: My decision to pursue a career in Neonatology happened over time. I always knew I wanted to go into the field of Pediatrics relatively early in medical school, and knew within the field I wanted to be in some sort of subspecialty. I had a huge interest in critical care specialties, so working with ill patients who need a lot of support and care, and from merging these two passions, I found myself in Neonatology. In retrospect, there are a multitude of reasons why I chose to pursue Neonatology, which are similar to the reasons why I enjoy medical education. I am privileged to be able to provide care for the most precious little humans on earth. Another reason that Neonatology is a very interesting field is the dynamics with our care team; within this specialty, you have direct patient care, but you can’t converse directly with your patient (the baby or infant). You collaboratively work with amazing nurses, other medical professionals, and the parents, who are all coming together as part of the care team to provide for these babies. Medical education also has this collaborative nature inherent in its delivery, so I found myself naturally drawn to both paths.
What are your major responsibilities here at GW?

Simran: My major responsibilities are teaching within POM as an instructor and serving as one of the Course Co-Directors. I use a lot of my simulation background from Children's in the work I do at GW, and the use of simulations to further DEI initiatives is my main research area of focus. In addition to this, I also serve as the Rotation Director for our pediatric residents rotating through the NICU at Children's, as well as a lot of our education work for my division and the Simulation Program.

Can you tell us more about your role in the POM program?
Simran: There have been some new additions within POM leadership recently, including myself and Sarah Boutwell, who joined Jim Blatt and Natasha Powell as Course Directors. The POM course encompasses multiple experiences over multiple years; I primarily work with students in their preclinical years. The program is really a fantastic curriculum that has been developed and refined over a number of years to continue to help our students learn and grow. The entire leadership team of POM constantly looks forward to meeting the needs of our students, who ultimately meet the needs of our patients, contributing positively to the school's mission. Making sure we are teaching the appropriate behaviors, for example, we recently took a deeper look into how we teach our implicit racial and ethnic bias sessions. This deeper dive incorporated some of the work that I had done at Children's on simulation-based DEI education, which gives our students an opportunity to use simulation to learn how to respond to those types of bias events. Another aspect we have been working on in POM is looking at how we assess our students and making sure we provide consistent formative feedback as they lead up to those bigger summative performance-based exams. At the same time, we have a fantastic coaching program for students that continues into their clinical years, supporting their growth all the way to graduation.
To me, one of the most significant strengths of POM is having consistent small groups with POM instructors who become natural mentors for students. These instructors are made up of clinical faculty, librarian instructors, psycho-social educators, and coaches that they see longitudinally.
Can you tell us more about your role in Interprofessional Education (IPE)?
Simran: As I got involved in the Simulation Program at Children’s, I got more and more involved in IPE because it is such a focal point of our simulations. Simulation works best when you replicate an actual experience of the team, so if you have a scenario where you're looking at how to provide patient care that involves nurses and respiratory therapists, you also want to have nurses and respiratory therapists there. I think everyone's been involved in a simulation where someone was assigned a role and said, you pretend to be this role, and it's just not the same experience. You do not get the same benefits, and it's harder to really identify where you may need improvements. At GW, we have Interprofessional Education Days for our students, which I help support through my role in POM. We actually had our first one for our first-year students this past October! During this event, students met with many different health professionals. We asked students to look into what they think their role is, explain their role in the healthcare team, and then had them come together and work through a case that really focuses on teamwork and interprofessional care. That collaborative nature is essential because it helps them realize that as medicine gets more complex, it is not a one-person job, you do need to work with various specialized groups to utilize their expertise in order to provide the best care for a patient.
What is your favorite part of teaching at SMHS/Children's?

Simran: I love teaching in the classroom, in those preclinical years. I really have such a deep passion for working with our students and seeing them develop into physicians-in-training. Many of our students have science backgrounds and are all very bright individuals, but the skills they learn from us in POM, learning how to interview, how to connect with a patient, and gain trust in a brief period of time, are very powerful. Observing how these students transform and grow over 18 months and then seeing them come back between rotations and checking in with them, even in their third and fourth years, is amazing to be a part of. There's a level of fulfillment in seeing students spread their wings and ultimately graduate and become physicians.
What about the future of the Children's Neonatology Department excites you?
Simran: I’m very proud to be part of the NICU team at Children’s National, one of the premier units in the country. As we’ve expanded our reach across the DMV, we’ve been able to provide fantastic care for more and more neonates throughout the region. Within Neonatology, we offer a vast subspecialized care, including our NICU Neurology team, various surgical subspecialties, and ECMO. Since I started there as a fellow, being able to learn from the leadership in our division, including Dr. Billie Short and Dr. Rais Bahrami, has been an unparalleled experience.
What is your favorite thing about your current role or responsibilities?

Simran: Being able to spend a significant amount of time face-to-face with preclinical students. I enjoy being at the medical school and being able to serve not only as a facilitator but also as an advisor and mentor for some of the students, and I really cherish that opportunity.
What impact do you hope to have through these roles?

Simran: In POM, we talk a lot about the human side of medicine and maintaining our humanity. I think many people are keenly aware of the difficulties and stresses that can come with practicing medicine. This profession really asks you to sacrifice a lot of yourself, including your time, energy, and even relationships. So what I hope to pass on to others is a mindset that allows them to see the importance of the work we do. There are people who are putting their health and their lives in your hands, so it is important to view them as an entire person. This care may not always be what is written verbatim in a textbook, rather it is important to provide that individualized care that every patient needs and deserves.
What are you looking forward to working on or doing here at GWSMHS/Children's?

Simran: On the education side, there are a lot of exciting things that are already underway. The emphasis is always on how we can create the conditions to allow our students to grow into the best physicians they can be. We constantly review and revise how we facilitate learning, provide feedback, and evaluate our students. Ultimately we want to create learners who will become self-directed. We often remind our students in their small groups that learning doesn't stop once they graduate, rather that is the beginning. Now it will need to continue with you driving that learning forward.
How does this spotlight/recognition make you feel?

Simran: It is humbling to be recognized in this way, and be amongst other amazing faculty members who have been spotlighted. I consider myself very lucky that I am in a position to provide support and be a value to our students. Service is a large part of GW’s fabric, and for me, that means providing the best care I can for my patients and an engaging educational experience for our students.
What is one thing that keeps you motivated during the day?

Simran: My family is really what keeps me motivated during the day. My wife is my rock, and we have two amazing young daughters, and I come from a family of teachers. Our family business is education. My brother is a professor in accounting; my dad's a professor in computer science; my mom taught math at my high school and went on to get her EdD and became a district supervisor. Education is also a part of my family’s immigration story. My grandfather came to the United States to obtain his PhD in math. So, this deep education background within my family as well as wanting to teach my daughters by example, motivate me greatly.

Another person who is a major motivation for me is my grandmother, who passed away when I was younger. She was the epitome of what you would want any care provider to be: a genuine soul who cared about people, and that was truly her north star.  She deeply cared about her family and people close to her, so her memory has always been with me as I have gone throughout my life. In difficult times, I think to myself, what would she have done? This has helped me in my life personally and professionally. 
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