HMS’s Office for External Education marks 10 years of empowering learners and patients

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When Neil Sullivan — a nonverbal individual with profound autism and a complex array of medical conditions — aged out of pediatric care and began seeing adult-care physicians, some doctors dismissed behaviors that they thought were related to his autism rather than to his health, said his mother, Maura Sullivan.

It was frustrating for both her and her son to see his symptoms go unheard and untreated.

“They didn’t see the significant medical conditions that might have been causing him to be aggressive or sleepless,” she said.

Harvard Medical School’s Office for External Education (OEE) offers programs that aim to make scenarios like this less common. Its newly launched Adult Autism Health Resources website provides tools for autistic adult patients and their families and its Clinical Care for Autistic Adults course educates physicians, nurses, and health professionals.

Autism resources represent just one of the ways OEE has worked for 10 years to bring the HMS community’s expertise, evidence-based practices, and research to learners around the world — including medical students and trainees, healthcare professionals, corporate leaders, and patients and families.

Through in-person, blended, and online programs and courses, as well as published content, OEE develops educational opportunities intended to prepare learners to anticipate and shape the future of medicine and healthcare.

For instance, a self-paced, online certificate program set to launch in April focuses on how to implement and design AI solutions for healthcare. And the growing collection of HMX interactive online medical science courses explores foundational as well as advanced topics important for a variety of healthcare careers.

As OEE marks its first decade, its leaders are taking a moment to reflect on the impact their work has had so far.

“As we reflect on the Office for External Education’s first decade with an eye toward the future, I feel an extraordinary sense of gratitude,” said David Roberts, HMS dean for external education. “Our faculty and staff work tirelessly amid a massive, complex, and ever-evolving global healthcare landscape to bring HMS to the world. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring.”

Building on HMS’s legacy of offering accredited continuing medical education that dates back more than a century and published consumer health information since the 1970s, OEE is guided by the School’s commitment to provide an inclusive environment for learners as it supports the HMS mission to improve health and well-being for all.