Program for Academic Clinician Educators

In 2016, the Department of Medicine created the Program for Academic Clinician Educators (PACE) to support the career development of its clinician-educators. These faculty members make crucial contributions to the success of our department, by developing and improving innovative educational programs, and engaging in educational research to guide how we teach and assess health professions learners.

The PACE program will provide each Scholar with financial support, which may be used for medical education research, innovative program development in education, salary support and/or career development of the Scholar. The Division Head or Dean must pledge to protect at least 10% of the effort/time of the Scholar for the duration of the award. Each Scholar will be expected to participate in an education scholarship “Works in Progress” group for additional project support and mentorship, and program progress will be evaluated annually with continued year of funding contingent on demonstrated progress during the initial year of support.

Congratulations to the 2022-23 PACE Scholars!


Sophia Ambruso, DO, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Renal Medicine. Dr. Ambruso's PACE award will help to create and support ABC Kidney PhysioSim, an interactive digital platform that teaches kidney physiology to medical students during the CU School of Medicine renal course of the Trek curriculum. Dr. Ambruso hypothesizes that this tool will improve knowledge acquisition, study time and habits, and help identify best practices for digital education tool and curriculum development. The PACE program will provide protected time and resources to develop the curriculum and study its impact on medical education while providing opportunity for career growth, mentorship, and medical education leadership.


Natalie Held, MD, is an incoming Assistant Professor in the Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine. Dr. Held aims to better understand the cognitive load of providers during ICU teaching rounds, with a long-term goal of developing a rounding strategy that applies the concepts of cognitive load theory to optimize learning outcomes. PACE will support Dr. Held in performing a mixed-methods study of multidisciplinary providers that participate in ICU rounds at University of Colorado Hospital and Denver Health. She will assess relationships between rounding factors including the length of rounds, provider caseload, and extraneous load with post-rounds perceptions of clinical learning environment and will incorporate semi-structured interviews of rounding providers to understand perspectives on the learning environment during rounds. Results from this project will extend beyond the ICU and provide opportunities to improve trainee education in widespread clinical settings.


Joshua Raines, MD, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Hospital Medicine. Dr. Raines' project draws from the AAMC Entrustable Professional Activities (EPA), 13 core competencies that graduating medical students are expected to obtain prior to residency matriculation. EPA 10, the ability to recognize a patient who requires emergent care and evaluation, is of unique importance as fourth-year medical students are less skilled at managing unstable versus stable patients. The PACE program will help Dr. Raines implement case-based sepsis virtual reality simulations as both a curriculum and assessment tool for EPA 10. This program aims to provide evidence for virtual reality simulations as a curriculum and assessment tool designed for EPA 10, specifically in internal medicine acting interns. In addition, this program will demonstrate scalability across multiple sites of the institution.

Returning Scholars


Brandon Fainstad, MD, is a Visiting Associate Professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Director of the Rapid Access and Procedure Clinic at the VA. Dr. Fainstad’s PACE project is a comprehensive competency-based procedure training and assessment program for CU internal medicine residents on paracentesis, thoracentesis, and central venous catheter insertion across all three clinical sites (DH, CU, and the VA).  It aims to evaluate the relative impact of various training tools including standardized procedural checklists, highly accessible Just-in-Time (JiT) simulation training, and continuous clinical assessment with a digital competency assessment tool (CAT). The overall goal is to enhance resident procedural competency with fewer encounters and provide a reliable credentialing mechanism for residencies and hiring institutions.  The checklists, JiT task trainers, and CAT are designed for low-cost scalability and will be publicly available on to reduce barriers for local implementation and broader dissemination.

Marina Mutter, MD, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Hospital Medicine. Dr. Mutter’s PACE grant for 2021-22 allowed for the creation of a clinical skills performance dashboard in the context of a pre-clerkship clinical skills course; next, she plans to evaluate the effectiveness of the dashboard in promoting clinical skills development in students and in displaying and utilizing clinical skills assessment data for faculty. Evaluating faculty and medical student perspectives on the utility of the clinical skills dashboard to promote learning and to facilitate assessment will be an integral part of the upcoming year. The utility of the clinical skills dashboard as an assessment of learning and as an assessment for learning will be compared to prior approaches to clinical skills assessment in this pre-clerkship clinical skills course.