News Release

Cheryl A. McSweeney, MD, MPH, receives Stanley L. Robbins Award for Excellence in Teaching

Grant and Award Announcement

Boston University School of Medicine

(Boston)—Cheryl A. McSweeney, MD, MPH, assistant professor of family medicine, has been recognized with Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine’s highest teaching honor, the Stanley L. Robbins Award for Excellence in Teaching.


The annual award honors an outstanding educator and acknowledges the importance of teaching skills and commitment to students and education. It was established in recognition of the exceptional teaching and devotion to students exemplified by Stanley L. Robbins, MD, former professor and chair of pathology.


McSweeney is director of the Learn, Experience, Advocate, Discover and Serve (LEADS) course, launched in 2022 to equip medical students with the skills to recognize and engage with the social drivers of health. In the course, students examine the structures and systems that have resulted in health inequities both now and historically. They explore their roles as physician advocates for justice in service to others and develop pragmatic skills to advance health equity.


“LEADS is a complex course, and similar to other brand-new courses, it has required constant evolution and refinement. Yet, somehow, Dr. McSweeney has found a way to maintain a calm and cheerful demeanor leading our team and the course. Whether providing feedback to a draft self-learning guide or leading a workshop for students on advocacy skills, Dr. McSweeney’s dedication to LEADS, our team and the students in the course is constant and evident. She fills every gap and ensures every detail is accounted for thoughtfully and intentionally,” said a colleague in recommending McSweeney for the award.


Another faculty member described the experience of working with Dr. McSweeney on LEADS. “Cheryl is patient, thoughtful and kind in everything she does. While the LEADS curriculum provided multiple challenges around logistics, moving parts and clarity on goals since inception, Cheryl has been able to take every challenge presented and work with individuals in an open, kind, nonjudgmental manner. She never presented herself as ‘all knowing’ but rather inclusive, open to suggestions, flexible and accommodating to change. Cheryl was committed to creating a road map that was visible and usable for everyone, despite constant pivots. She embodies servant leadership at the highest level.”


Student evaluations describe her as “very engaging and knowledgeable” and “easy to get ahold of to ask questions and discuss.” She is “clear and passionate about equity and students’ learning” and “creates a very kind and comfortable learning environment.” She also “challenges students to think critically and apply concepts in her teaching.”


Multiple faculty noted how she helped orient and mentor them as new faculty members. “She fosters a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement. Furthermore, she empowers the faculty and administrative team to innovate. She considerately approaches new ideas, strengthening them and helping support their success. She thus creates space for faculty to develop unique didactics focused on health equity.” 


Another colleague reflected that she is a vocal advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in the curriculum. “She encourages our team to ensure that the students learn from an incredibly diverse set of speakers and that every learning objective promotes health equity. She values differences of opinion on our teams and seeks to provide a safe environment for students and faculty to express their challenges and frustrations.”


McSweeney led public health curriculum that preceded LEADS starting in 2016 and has served in the Academy of Medical Educators teaching and mentoring medical students since its inception in 2019.  She is a member of the medical school Admissions Committee.


McSweeney’s outpatient family medicine practice is at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, where she provides primary care to families and teaches third-year medical students.


McSweeney received her undergraduate degree in brain and cognitive sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and MD from The Ohio State University followed by an MPH in Maternal Child Health from Boston University School of Public Health in 2013. She completed her residency at the University of Massachusetts Family Health Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.




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