Denise Connor, MD

Associate Professor

As a founding member of the San Francisco VA Medical Center’s Faculty Hospital Medicine Group, I attend on a range of inpatient services including the medicine ward service, a traditional teaching service, the Faculty Hospitalist Service, an attending-only service, the Co-Management Service, a consultative service for peri-operative patients, and our Swing Service, where I serve as Transfer Attending, Medicine Consult attending, and Procedure attending (teaching bedside procedures), while admitting new patients and supporting the on-call team. As a safety net hospital, much of our clinical care at the SFVA is focused on underserved patients.

Medical education is at the heart of my career. In 2013, I joined the faculty of PRIME, a VA-based Area of Distinction for second and third year internal medicine residents offering training in understanding the medical literature, designing clinical research, and expanding clinical skills. As Associate Director of the clinical curriculum, my focus is on developing PRIME’s weekly didactic sessions. I have expanded this curriculum by developing a case-based, longitudinal clinical reasoning series, and a career series dedicated to building tools for successful academic careers. Recently, I have been working with our residency program to expand opportunities for reasoning-focused education to all residents.

My interest in formal undergraduate medical education began in my year as a chief resident, and was reinforced through my early experiences in the Foundations in Patient Care course and at the Kanbar Simulation Center. Inspired by these experiences, I joined the Clinical Guidance Program, coaching students as they worked to improve patient care skills. And, by designing and launching an elective titled “Hospital-Based Medicine: A Clinical Skills Tutorial” for pre-clerkship medical students, I had the opportunity to plan a hands-on curriculum for early clinical learners.

As the theme lead for Clinical Reasoning within the Clinical Microsystem Clerkship (CMC) (launched in 2016), and Design Lead and Director for a capstone course in the School of Medicine's Bridges Curriculum, titled the Diagnostic Reasoning (DR) Block (launched in 2017), I have had the opportunity to develop a novel, longitudinal curriculum focused on building skills in clinical reasoning for early learners. I continue to hone this curriculum each year based on student and faculty feedback.

My research interests are intertwined with my focus on medical education in the realm of clinical reasoning. I am particularly interested in the intersection between communication, diversity, equity and inclusion, and clinical reasoning. Highlights of my current projects include:

• On-going development and study of PRIME’s clinical reasoning curriculum for graduate learners

• Further development and evaluation of our novel, longitudinal clinical reasoning curriculum in the school of medicine, with the goal of enhancing our understanding of successful strategies for teaching and assessing clinical reasoning in early learners

• Considering how traditional, 'cognitive' aspects of reasoning link with patient-centered communication with patients, and how we incorporate issues of diversity, equity and inclusion when we teach about and engage in clinical reasoning
2017 - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion Training, University of California
Teaching Scholars Program, 2016 - Academy of Medical Educators, University of California, San Francisco
Inpatient Chief Resident, 2011 - San Francisco VA Medical Center, University of California, San Francisco
2010 - Health Equities: Academics & Advocacy Training Program, University of California, San Francisco
2010 - Internal Medicine Residency, University of California, San Francisco
MD, 2007 - School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Honors and Awards
  • Gold-Headed Cane Endowed Teaching Chair in Internal Medicine, UCSF, Academy of Medical Educators and Department of Medicine, 2019-2024
  • Cooke Award for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, UCSF, Academy of Medical Educators, 2018
  • David E. Rogers Junior Faculty Education Award for workshop “Teaching Clinical Reasoning", Society of General Internal Medicine, 2016
  • Accepted into Haile T. Debas Academy of Medical Educators, UCSF, Academy of Medical Educators, 2016
  • Calvin Chou Award for Education, UCSF, PRIME Program, 2014
  • Excellence in Teaching Award, UCSF, Academy of Medical Educators, 2012
  • Front Page
  1. Clinical Reasoning as a Core Competency.
  2. Off Trail, On Track: an Exercise in Clinical Reasoning.
  3. Diagnostic uncertainty: from education to communication.
  4. A Curriculum for Diagnostic Reasoning: JGIM's Exercises in Clinical Reasoning.
  5. Blind Obedience and an Unnecessary Workup for Hypoglycemia: A Teachable Moment.
  6. When the Script Doesn't Fit: An Exercise in Clinical Reasoning.
  7. Improving clerkship preparedness: a hospital medicine elective for pre-clerkship students.
  8. Does Research Training During Residency Promote Scholarship and Influence Career Choice? A Cross-Sectional Analysis of a 10-Year Cohort of the UCSF-PRIME Internal Medicine Residency Program.
  9. The Unbefriended Patient: An Exercise in Ethical Clinical Reasoning.
  10. When less is more for the struggling clinical reasoner.
  11. Impact of automatic orders to discontinue vancomycin therapy on vancomycin use in an antimicrobial stewardship program.
  12. Kappa opioid receptors in the rostral ventromedial medulla of male and female rats.
  13. Testosterone decreases the potential for song plasticity in adult male zebra finches.