Elaine M. Wallace | Assistant Dean | Clinical Education

Elaine M. Wallace: Elevating Standards of Education in Healthcare

The world of healthcare has changed remarkably over the last few years. Today, the patient has become the focus of the healthcare where the solutions are becoming patient-centric. In its upcoming edition “Top 10 Successful Magnetic Leaders Revamping the Healthcare” Insights Success is praising those leaders who are making remarkable progress in the sector with their advanced solutions and efficient services. One such healthcare leader is Elaine M. Wallace, an Osteopathic Physician, certified in Family Medicine, Sports Medicine and Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine.

About Elaine

Elaine began her career in private practice in Kansas City Missouri, where her practice was a true family practice; she did  her own D&C’s and tonsillectomies; she delivered one to two babies per week; she took care of geriatric and pediatric patients; established and was the director of a rape crisis center at Lakeside Hospital in Kansas City Mo. She loved family medicine, but during the mid-80’s, she made a transition to the Kansas City College of Osteopathic Medicine where she became the Chair of the Department of Osteopathic Principles and Practice.  Shortly thereafter (1990), Elaine became the Assistant Dean of Clinical Education and has spent the remainder of her career in Medical Education.

According to Elaine, Physicians are often not educators, so with her new role as a dean she went back to school at University of Kansas and received a degree in Higher Education Leadership and Administration.  This has been followed by two other master’s degrees in education from NSU, one in Brain Based Learning as well as one in Curriculum Development.  She also has a master’s degree in criminal justice with attention to forensic psychology and is currently in NSU Law School in the Education Law program.

A Proficient Educator

One of the most wonderful things about Elaine’s job is that she oversees 6 Bachelors programs, 6 masters programs, two PhD programs and a professional program in Osteopathic Medicine – the largest medical school within the state of Florida. Four of the bachelor’s programs are “track programs” into the DO medicine program. This means that the students take their bachelor’s training at NSU and are offered interviews with the DO program upon successful completion.  This has allowed the college to admit a diversity of applicants from non-traditional fields including Public Health, Health and Wellness Coaching, Nutrition, and soon, Biomedical Informatics.  This allows changes the composition of a typical medical school class and fosters a depth within the class that many other medical schools do not enjoy.

Current Challenges and Effects

“COVID 19 offers challenges and opportunities,” says Elaine. She further adds, the biggest challenge has been the interruption of the third- and fourth-year clinical rotations at affiliated hospitals, which are not able to accommodate the students due to being overwhelmed with COVID 19 patients.  This has caused the college to look with greater depth into online training and simulation training. Many of these materials were foreign, but they do offer education in a new modality that many of the students relate to.

Learning through Reading, Travelling and Understanding People 

Elaine is an avid reader.  She read one book per week. She asserts “I have read every novel written by Joyce Carol Oates. Having followed her career through her life and my life, I have grown to see the nuances in people, the absurdities of life and understandings of the vicissitudes of society.” Travelling world is also important to Elaine. She has been in 110 countries and on all 7 continents.  She has also studied the great religions of the world in their origin countries and has learned that people the world over, are much the same – wanting what is best for their families and in their lives.

Advising From Experience

Elaine opines “Every leader should be able to listen; to respect all points of view; should demonstrate kindness; should make decisions for all; should not be afraid to make those decisions; should have a great sense of humor and should not take themselves too seriously.”

On advising upcoming leaders, Elaine says “I would recommend listening in the quiet and finding the resonance of your passion and your mission.  Then, never sway from that.”

Combining Leadership and Team Work

Elaine believes, she is supported by wonderful teams of people. She governs, not in a top down management, but with two management teams, one that is administrative with 5 members and one that is academic with 7 members.  The team discusses all issues together; with multiple people having the “30 thousand-foot view” we are able to critique one another, guide one another and help one another from our diverse experiences.  She also is guided by a vision of “how we get things done”, not “can I get things done”. Elaine is not afraid, if the front door is closed, to go through the back door or through the window to get to where she needs to go. She also laughs a lot. This is the key to much in life.

A Leader also A Mother

Elaine maintains a balance of personal and professional due to the fact that she is raising three young children: twin 8-year-old boys and a 12-year-old daughter.  They keep one’s sense of reality and reminds me every day of the value of love and kindness over all else. She says “I have also lived my life and my career knowing that my values come first and at any given moment, I could walk away and still be a happy person.”