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Feature: Comprehensive Faculty Development for Medical Faculty

by Diane Magrane, M.D.

Comprehensive faculty development...empowers faculty members to excel...and to create vibrant academic communities... (Wilkerson and Irby 1998)

Faculty vitality means the ongoing realization of goals…This is a career-long journey, not a destination. (Viggiano, Harvard Macy Institute 2004)

The practices and scholarship of faculty development originate from diverse initiatives supporting faculty recruitment, advancement, and retention: affirmative action initiatives for women and racial/ethnic minorities, faculty affairs policy development, educational faculty development programs, and research on productive researchers and teachers. Substantive discussions of faculty have been published over the past five years, discussions that can guide the development or expansion of programs in our medical schools. Whether reporting studies of productivity of research scientists, career satisfaction of clinical educators, or the general environment for mission related activities, the results are the same: effective policies that reward contribution to the missions of research, teaching, and service combined with skill development and academic community support are essential to maintaining productive faculty. This work is summarized in the Resource section of this newsletter. It is supported by the activities of the AAMC’s new section on Faculty Development and Leadership programs (FD&L) through professional development programs, analysis of outcomes of policies and practices of medical schools and teaching hospitals, and communications such as this newsletter, Faculty Vitae. In fact, the activities of FD&L are all organized around this concept of vitality as arising from both individual and institutional contribution. We aim to support the essential components of capability, responsibility, and community.

  • Capability describes our adaptation to change and improve knowledge and performance. It is enhanced by feedback, by challenge, and by reflection and problem solving (For more information, see BMJ 323:2001 External Link).
  • Responsibility describes one’s accountability for conduct and obligations.
  • Community is the supportive network of learning and reflective practice that contributes to our vitality and productivity.

As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information. (Benjamin Disraeli, 1804 – 1881)

Faculty Vitae, the portfolio of faculty life, is distributed quarterly through electronic mail to academic faculty in medical schools and teaching hospitals supported by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). This publication of features news, short lessons for professional development in management and leadership, and research on issues related to faculty development.

Each issue of this electronic publication is organized around a theme that is of central importance to the faculty of medical schools. The publication is distributed to medical faculty and leadership of medical schools to enhance the leadership capabilities of communities of medical faculty through professional development. You can expect each issue to include the following sections that address both individual and institutional aspects of faculty development:

Feature Articles: short, theme based original articles that reflect current concerns and challenges of medical faculty members and their institutions.

Leadership Lessons: references, resources, and learning modules that address leadership development. Lessons are organized for use in self-reflection and medical school or society based discussions.

Perspectives: reflections on provocative questions that explore issues of importance to faculty and their professional development.

Meeting Minutes: resources and lessons from AAMC sponsored meetings.

Spotlight: puts a “face” on faculty achievements and successful faculty development programs through photographs and interviews.

Resources: list or link programs, activities, abstracts, articles, books and bibliographies, including those used to develop the various sections of the publication.

Inspirations: contributions of powerful quotes from the literature, popular press, and faculty development programs; creative contributions such as photography, poetry, short stories, etc.; Advancing Diversity in Leadership—awards and promotions of note.

Feedback: solicits ideas for improvements and contributions to future issues as well as collecting information on faculty life from our audience.

Selected References

Whether reporting studies of productivity of research scientists, career satisfaction of clinical educators, or the general environment for mission related activities, the results are the same: effective policies that reward contribution to the missions of research, teaching, and service combined with skill development and academic community support are essential to maintaining productive faculty.

Bland CF, Seaquist E, Pacala JT, Center B, Finstad D. One School’s Strategy to Assess and Improve the Vitality of its Faculty. Acad Med 2002;77:368-376 External Link

Morahan P, Gold J, Bickel J. Status of Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development Offices in U.S. Medical Schools. Acad Med 2002;77:398-401 External Link

Quinn R. Deep Change Jossey-Bass 1996.

Simpson DE, Rediske VA, Beecher A, Bower D, Meurer L, Lawrence S, Wolkomir M. Understanding the Careers of Physician Educators in Family Medicine. Acad Med 2001;76:259-265 External Link

Wilkerson W, Irby D. Strategies for Improving Teaching Practices: A Comprehensive Approach to Faculty Development. Acad Med 1998:73:387-396 External Link

Summaries of selected research reports on faculty development:

Bland CF, Seaquist E, Pacala JT, Center B, Finstad D. One School’s Strategy to Assess and Improve the Vitality of its Faculty. Acad Med 2002;77:368-376 External Link

The authors summarize literature findings on institutional and faculty vitality, then present results of a school-wide survey of University of Minnesota medical faculty vitality, focusing in particular on research faculty.

Key findings from the literature:
Research faculty who move from institutions with less conducive policies to support their scholarship become more productive in institutions that have a scholarly environment with support of resources, colleagues, policies.

Effective faculty development must address individual and institutional features of the environment. “Fixing” or incentivizing the faculty member without improving the environment for mission related activities is not sufficient. The authors provide a model for identifying areas that impact faculty productivity within a school, describing areas of greatest need, and developing institution-wide strategies to address those needs.

Key features of a productive academic organization:
Individual features: adult development, socialization, motivation, content knowledge and research/teaching skills, vital network of professional communication, simultaneous projects, sufficient work time, orientation, autonomy and commitment, morale, work habits, mentors.

Institutional features: career development, clear organizing goals, emphasizing priority goals, culture, positive group climate, assertive participative governance, decentralized organization, communication, resources including local peer support and technical support, salaries and other rewards, group size/age/ diversity, recruitment and selection, brokered opportunity structure

Features of productive organizations: articles, grants, books, patients, enduring curricular change, educational innovations, quality teaching, artistic accomplishments, awards, prestige, highly motivated and satisfied faculty.

Morahan P, Gold J, Bickel J. Status of Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development Offices in U.S. Medical Schools. Acad Med 2002;77:398-401 External Link

Jan 2000: Faculty affairs officers from 76 of 125 medical schools responded to an 8-page questionnaire with descriptions of functions and organization of activities of faculty affairs and faculty development. Most medical schools had at least one office devoted to faculty affairs functions and had been functioning for over 10 years. Faculty development offices have been established only more recently. Faculty development functions were less likely to have a predominant focus and to play a significant role within medical schools.

Faculty Affairs functions
Administrative support for appointment, promotion, and tenure committees
Faculty policies
Databases for faculty appointment information
Contracts and letters of appointment
Faculty handbooks
Bylaws
Administrative support for searches for department chairs, center directors, deans
Faculty governance/ administration (committee maintenance, preparing minutes, scheduling)
Grievance proceedings (particularly with respect to contracts)
Personnel management issues (e.g. faculty counseling, ombudsperson)
Annual or periodic trend analysis (e.g. retention, recruitment, gender issues)

Faculty Development functions
Teaching skills
Mentoring programs
Leadership development
Programs for women and minorities
Orientation programs for new faculty
Career planning
Research skills
Clinical work
Scientific ethics and good practices
Administrative skills
Fellowships for junior faculty

Quinn R. Deep Change Jossey-Bass 1996.

Robert Quinn writes of the importance of monitoring Vitality:

“Many of us have experienced a situation where we have crossed the invisible line and watched as our performance fell off, resulting in frustration and an increase in stress. The usual reaction is to work harder. Interestingly, psychologists believe that as the level of stress increases, the attendance span diminishes.

People seek solutions to new problems in the same places where they found the old ones. In the face of stress and pressure, when the attention span diminishes, there is a tendency to become rigid. Instead of responding creatively, when innovative action is most needed, people increase their commitment to their old patterns. They implement their most ingrained natural response.

Karl Weick tells the story of a plane that is flown by U.S. pilots in North America and in Europe. Although the plane is essentially the same in both places, the ejection systems vary by location. In Europe, the pilot ejects through the bottom of the plane. In North America, the pilot ejects through the top of the plane. When pilots get in trouble in Europe, they are trained, as their last act, to roll the plane and eject themselves upward so they may parachute safely to earth. When they are transferred from Europe to the United States, they are retrained to use the procedure of simply ejecting themselves upward. An interesting problem occurs. In crisis, some of the transferred pilots, as their last act, turn their planes upside down and eject themselves to their death. Under stress they behave according to the most deeply held framework.

Most of us are like the people in the stories. Warning signals that suggest a need for change tend to be denied. As performance falls, stress goes up, and vitality and drive wane. Our focus narrows, and we increase our commitment to our existing strategies, leading us toward greater difficulty.“ (Chapter 5, Finding Vitality)

Simpson DE, Rediske VA, Beecher A, Bower D, Meurer L, Lawrence S, Wolkomir M. Understanding the Careers of Physician Educators in Family Medicine. Acad Med 2001;76:259-265 External Link

24 members of STFM were drawn from a randomly selected pool and screened for career satisfaction and contribution to medical education. Responses of semi-structured interviews were analyzed with an affinity diagram to reveal thematic categories of characteristics of these physician educators. Their career decisions emanated form an underlying set of values and beliefs associated with “making the world better.” Three major sources of vitality—learners, colleagues, and patients—complemented the desire for challenging positions. Change was viewed as an opportunity and a source of stimulation, diversity and challenge. All struggled to balance personal and professional life and to make career choices consistent with their values.
For more on faculty development for preceptors:
Society for Teaching Family Medicine
Center for Ambulatory Teaching Excellence (CATE),
Medical College of Wisconsin

Wilkerson W, Irby D. Strategies for Improving Teaching Practices: A Comprehensive Approach to Faculty Development. Acad Med 1998:73:387-396 External Link

Comprehensive faculty development…empowers faculty members to excel as educators and to create vibrant academic communities that value teaching and learning.
1. professional development that orients new faculty members to the university and their various faculty roles
2. instructional development with teaching-improvement workshops, peer coaching, mentoring, and consultation
3. leadership development to improve effectiveness in evaluation and advancement of medical education
4. organizational development that addresses policies and procedures that encourage and reward teaching and continual learning

For more on faculty development at the author’s medical schools:
http://medschool.ucsf.edu/medicaleducation External Link

 

Faculty Vitae

Please note that some links or e-mail addresses have been disabled, may be omitted, or may not load correctly due to changes in content availability or an individual's institution affiliation/contact information.

To inquire about updates to information published in Faculty Vitae, please e-mail Valarie Clark at vclark@aamc.org.

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