Tuchaai named assistant dean, academic student success initiatives

By Darla Brown, Office of Communications

Dr. Tara Tuchaai - assistant dean for academic student success initiatives
Tara Tuchaai, PhD

Tara Tuchaai, PhD, was named McGovern Medical School’s inaugural assistant dean for academic student success initiatives.

The new position in the Office of Admissions and Student Affairs was effective February 2023 and reports to Margaret McNeese, MD, vice dean for Admissions and Student Affairs.

An educator for 30 years in England, Australia, and the United States, Tuchaai joined the Medical School in 2018 as a learning specialist in the Office of Admissions and Student Affairs and was promoted in 2020 as the director of academic success initiatives. She earned her PhD in education from University Western Australia.

“My primary goal at McGovern Medical School is to continue supporting medical school students on their learning journey and to help them build skills, particularly in the area of self-directed learning, that will allow them to be successful throughout their careers,” she said.

Tuchaai developed virtual study reviews to help first-year students master content in a large-group tutoring format. “To support the first-year students during Foundations, I coordinate and manage the virtual study reviews, which are led by second-year mentors, whom I train and with whom I collaborate,” she explained.

Third and fourth-year students also contribute their support by sharing resources and approaches to Step 1, clerkships, and Step 2 CK. “Learning from students about what works for them is critical in understanding how resources may be helpful for particular learning styles and approaches,” she said. “This helps with recommending learning tools and methodologies that align with USMLE and NBME examination updates and curriculum changes.”

Tuchaai said in this role her goals include understanding medical education and how students learn. In addition, she will ensure McGovern keeps pace with the evolving learning environment.

“As the medical education learning environment changes and technologies develop through virtual learning platforms and the use of AI, the pace and speed of learning in medical school demands that student-centered learning is paramount and individual guidance is ever more important to support the success of our incredible MMS students,” she said.