CoP Blog #3: Meet Mr. Ken Kraybill, Communities of Practice Member


Meet Ken Kraybill, MSW

Welcome to the Communities of Practice BLOG at the National Center for Medical Education, Development and Research at Meharry Medical College. This week our Communities of Practice Director, Katherine Brown, EdD had the opportunity to interview Ken Kraybill who is the Director of Training for t3 (think. teach. transform.), the Center for Social Innovation’s training institute dedicated to improving the quality of care provided to marginalized and vulnerable people.


KB: Thank you, Ken for taking time out of your schedule to be featured on our Communities of Practice BLOG. As one of our Communities of Practice Members, we appreciate the contributions that you make to the National Center for Medical Education, Development and Research to help us in our goal to transform medical education.

KK: My pleasure.

KB: Each member of our Communities of Practice has a diverse background. When I first met you I was presenting at the National Health Care for the Homeless Council Conference, you shared some of the work that you are doing. Can you share your educational and professional background and the skills that you bring to the Communities of Practice?

KK: I’m a social worker by training and have worked in healthcare, behavioral health, homelessness and housing for the past 35+ years. After stepping away from 18 years of providing direct care in homeless services (in Seattle, WA), I’ve been focusing my energies over the past two decades on developing curricula and facilitating in-person and online training nationally on topics including motivational interviewing, trauma-informed care, outreach and engagement, case management, critical time intervention, supervision, and finding resiliency and renewal for care providers.

KB: As a participant at the 2nd Annual Communities of Practice Conference that we recently held in Nashville, TN can you share with me thoughts on the overall conference?

KK: Participating in the conference was a very enjoyable and stimulating time for exploring ways to improve medical education as it pertains to providing care for homeless, LGBT, and migrant worker populations. Several things stood out to me:

I loved the emphasis on becoming more authentically “patient-centered” in the practice of medicine. Apparently, an idea whose time has arrived! J

I was also appreciative of the frequent mention of Motivational Interviewing as a useful practice approach for health providers, particularly when engaging patients in conversations about self-management and behavior change. I’ve personally come to believe that Motivational Interviewing is one of the most foundational and transformative approaches in all of healthcare, behavioral health, and human services.

I welcomed the strong emphasis on increasing medical students’ understanding of the impact of trauma (including complex/developmental, insidious, and historic trauma) and helping them learn trauma-informed, patient-centered approaches.

Of particular interest to me were Althea Stewart’s keynote on the origins and significance of the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study and Christopher Layne’s keynote on interpersonal violence across the life course – especially the work he’s doing to examine the impact of ACEs as they occur in different stages of a child’s development.

I was also heartened to learn that sources of trauma that were absent in the original ACE study are increasingly being incorporated in more recent ACE studies: racism, witnessing violence outside the home, bullying, losing a parent to deportation, living in an unsafe neighborhood, involvement with the foster care system, experiencing homelessness, living in a war zone, moving many times, witnessing a sibling being abused, witnessing a father/caregiver/extended family member being abused, involvement with the criminal justice system, attending a school that enforces a zero-tolerance discipline policy.

KB: What did you enjoy most about the breakout sessions?

KK: I attended the breakout sessions focused on homelessness. I appreciated the mix of perspectives from current medical students, researchers, academicians, service providers, and others involved with the issue. The sessions provided a great opportunity to brainstorm ideas to build greater awareness and knowledge in medical education about the unique challenges of providing health care to people experiencing homelessness. I think we all agreed that creating opportunities for students to interact directly with people experiencing homelessness – through street outreach, mobile outreach vans, shelters, drop-in centers, and clinics – is a valuable part of medical training.

KB: During the Communities of Practice presentation in the large group, we shared our products which include the video vignettes. Please share with me your thoughts about the vignettes as they relate to medical education and any insights that you would like to share.

KK: I think the vignettes provide a powerful opportunity for learning. It’s important to hear people give voice to their own experiences and views, particularly when they have all-too-often been disregarded and disrespected by individual providers and the health care system as a whole. Hopefully, over time this awareness will lead to meeting face-to-face and working in partnership with these groups to improve the health care delivery system.

KB: Would you recommend the Communities of Practice Conference to others?

KK: Yes, absolutely.

KB: How to you see your role as a CoP Member in the year to come?

KK: I look forward to being both a learner and a contributor as we share our perspectives and expertise.

KB: How can people learn more about you and the work that you are doing?

KK: I invite folks to visit several websites:

Center for Social Innovation

t3 (think. teach. transform) training institute

For an array of excellent podcasts

KB: What are your thoughts on the utilization of social media to engage our Communities of Practice?

KK: I have to admit I’ve not been an enthusiastic adopter of using social media, but I do recognize its value.

KB: Is there anything else that you would like to share that I have not asked you?

KK: Perhaps a quote that I’ve come to appreciate: “Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe of what (people) have to carry rather than stand in judgment about how they carry it.” – Fr. Greg Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart 

KB: Thank you again for your time, we look forward to working with you.