Newswise — Bethesda, MD – The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) has announced the establishment of the new Department of Health Professions Education within its F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine. This new department aims to enhance healthcare education and workforce development within the Military Health System (MHS).  

Steven J. Durning, MD, PhD, MACP, a respected Air Force veteran with more than 25 years of educational leadership experience, will serve as the inaugural Chair of the Department of Health Professions Education, effective May 20. Durning previously served as professor and vice chair of the Department of Medicine at USU, and founding director of its Center for Health Professions Education (CHPE).  He also holds an appointment as professor of Pathology at USU. 

“The Department of Health Professions Education under Dr. Durning’s leadership is the natural evolution of the work that started with the Center for Health Professions Education,” said USU School of Medicine Dean Dr. Eric Elster. “The center will remain an integral component of USU providing support to the entire university, and the department will serve as the academic home for the faculty and staff in health professions education. This is timely given the introduction of AI (artificial intelligence) into medical education for which the department will play a key role both here and nationally.” 

Durning is internationally recognized as a leader in educational research and health professions education. He was the first US member of the executive committee of the Association for Medical Education in Europe, the largest international association of health professions educators. He also served as deputy editor of the journal Academic Medicine, and chaired the Research in Medical Education Program Planning Committee of the Association of American Medical College’s (AAMC) Group on Educational Affairs.  

Durning has been the principal or associate investigator on educational grants totaling more than $11M and has been awarded more than 50 national and international awards for his impact on health professions education, including the National Board of Medical Education's Hubbard Award, the AAMC Merrill Flair Award, the American Educational Research Association's Distinguished Career Award, and the Waxman Outstanding Medical Student Educator Award from the American College of Physicians (the inaugural recipient). He has published more than 450 peer-reviewed manuscripts (cited over 12,000 times) and more than 80 book chapters. He has also written seven books including Teaching Clinical Reasoning, Researching Medical Education, and Practical Guide to the Assessment of Clinical Competence. A Master of the American College of Physicians, Durning received his MD degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and his PhD in Health Professions Education from Maastricht University (Netherlands).  

“It’s been a privilege to see what started as a certificate and degree program blossom into a center and now a department,” said Durning. “The work of the unit’s faculty and staff and the support of leadership has been remarkable and acknowledges the USU’s unwavering commitment to the career development of health professionals. We look forward to the honor of serving the school, university and the nation in this new capacity.”

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About the Uniformed Services University: The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, founded by an act of Congress in 1972, is the nation’s federal health sciences university and the academic heart of the Military Health System. USU students are primarily active-duty uniformed officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service who receive specialized education in tropical and infectious diseases, TBI and PTSD, disaster response and humanitarian assistance, global health, and acute trauma care. USU also has graduate programs in oral biology, biomedical sciences and public health committed to excellence in research. The University's research program covers a wide range of areas important to both the military and public health. For more information about USU and its programs, visit

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