A Lesson With NextGenU: Q&A with Erica Frank

At TEDMED 2014, founder of NextGenU Erica Frank shared her revolutionary prescription for ending the global shortage of physicians. We reached out to Erica to learn more about her ideas and aspirations.


Why does your talk matter today? What impact do you hope it will have?

We are poised for huge scaleup, with NextGenU.org being in essence the first and still only free university.  We are at a point where we have users in 128 countries. Our collaborators include government agencies from the US to Sudan, and our funders span from Grand Challenges and WHO to the Macy Foundation and NATO. We just received a $16 million endowment from the Annenberg Physician Training Program in Addiction Medicine, and we are here to stay.  But, we want more people taking advantage of our trainings, and we hope that this talk will help with that – more health scientists and providers in training and practice coming to the site, and getting credit for free.

Is there anything you wish you had included in your talk?

In 2014, we focused on Graduate Medical Education.  We began our first residency program, Family Medicine, now with the first 200 of the 60,000 residents we have agreed to co-train in the next decade with the Sudanese government and the University of Gezira. Our next two residencies will be in Preventive Medicine and Occupational/Environmental Medicine; we plan to pilot these at Pacific NW University (in Washington state), Stanford (California), U of the Incarnate Word (Texas), and USFQ (Quito, Ecuador).  We are developing these with the American College of Preventive Medicine, Association of Prevention Teaching and Research, European Society of Lifestyle Medicine, Harvard Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, MedVid.io and others to create the first globally-available residencies.

The educational system will span from expert-created competencies, through learning resources and activities, multiple choice and mentor, peer, and self assessments, to recommending Continuing Medical Education based on trainees’ patients’ outcomes, observed through electronic medical records.  It will be unprecedented in the scope of the span throughout a practitioner’s career, and with a community of practice of trainees who have learned to interact globally and meaningfully.

What action items do you want your viewers to take?

Come take a course and get credit for free, or create a globally available course with us!

What legacy do you want to leave?

There is now free accredited education available globally – this could solve so very many problems for so many people.