Sarah L. Lappin

Project Title

Learning to Talk: Overuse, In inter-professionalism Communications Curriculum Focused on the Nexus of Overuse and Patient-centered Care

Project Overview

The Upstate Internal Medicine program has an existing curriculum for the teaching and learning of communication skills for residents and fellows. This is our “Learning to Talk” program. Our project is built on the success of this existing curriculum by adding in an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)-based encounter for all our current third-year medical students and the current cohort of first- andsecond-year physician assistant students, with the two tiered focus of overuse in the clinical setting and how to communicate better with patients regarding their care and healthcare maintenance guidelines. By engaging trainees in simulated discussions related to patient care, we will help them develop a more robust understanding of the content, implications, and importance of these commitments. After the simulated experience, we will discuss our own practice and national guidelines for patient care.


SUNY Upstate Medical University

Meet the Team

Sarah L. Lappin, DO completed her medical school at the NY College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2006. She completed her residency at Upstate Medical University. In 2009, she joined Upstate as a faculty member and became clerkship director of Internal Medicine. She has incorporated many changes into the clerkship in the last 4 years. These include observed teaching attending sessions with the students and USMLE Step 2 Review Sessions, among others. Dr. Lappin is now very excited to work on this inter-professional project with her colleagues.

Stephen J. Knohl, MD, completed his medical school, residency, chief residency, and nephrology fellowship at Upstate Medical University and became faculty and associate program director of the IM training program in 2003. He became residency program director in 2008 and developed the Learning To TALK (LTK) program soon after. The core housestaff and fellows in the Department of Medicine currently rotate through LTK and Dr. Knohl is excited to partner with Dr. Lappin and Ms. Oliver as the program evolves to include medical students and physician assistant students.

Sandra Banas, PA-C, completed her physician assistant training at Albany Medical College Physician Assistant Program in 1984 and has worked as a clinical PA in family medicine, cardiology, and internal medicine. She also completed a master of science degree in Teaching at LeMoyne College in 2006. She then began a career in Physician Assistant Education. Prior to her appointment as founding hairperson in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at Upstate in 2008, Sandy was a PA faculty member at LeMoyne College. Sandy is eager and excited to participate in this interdisciplinary education project with her colleagues.

Steve Harris, MS, is the director of the Standardized Patient (SP) Program at Upstate Medical University.  Mr. Harris worked as an education specialist at Upstate from 1996-2001. In 2001, he took a position as the director of the SP Program at the University of Cincinnati.  He returned to Upstate in October 2003 to develop a similar SP program. Prior to his work in medical eEducation, Mr. Harris spent 10 years teaching secondary biology, chemistry and math in a variety of settings.


Email: lappins@upstate.edu