How does a mid-career faculty development program in academic medicine impact faculty and institutional vitality?
Campion, MaryAnn Whalen
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BACKGROUND: Faculty vitality is integral to the endurance of higher education. Strengthening vitality is particularly important for mid-career faculty, who represent the largest and most productive segment, but also the most dissatisfied. While the mid-career phase is particularly vulnerable, the backdrop of academic medicine appears to be another factor that may put faculty at risk of attrition. To address these issues, Boston University School of Medicine initiated the Academy for Collaborative Innovation and Transformation (ACIT), a ten-month mid-career faculty development program consisting of six two-day interactive learning modules and multidisciplinary group projects. METHODS: This study is a mixed-methods evaluation of ACIT using a quasi-experimental design to assess the program's impact on faculty and institutional vitality. Pre-post surveys compared participants with a matched reference group. The quantitative data were augmented by interviews and focus groups with participants, senior leadership, department chairs, and ACIT staff members. RESULTS: At the program's conclusion, ACIT participants showed marked gains in knowledge, skills, attitudes, and connectivity when compared to the referents. Results also indicate that the program was largely successful in equipping participants to accomplish the four primary learning goals: to self-reflect and pursue an individual development plan; to connect longitudinally to one's peer cohort and to the larger organization; to collaborate effectively with colleagues across disciplines, sectors, and roles; and to enhance ability to implement transformative work. Lastly, the majority of didactic sessions were rated highly for both content areas and speakers, while the group projects and learning communities received mixed reviews. Based upon these results, recommendations were made to improve the design, execution, and costs of the program. CONCLUSION: Given that mid-career faculty development in academic medicine has not been extensively studied, this evaluation is able to provide a novel perspective to guide future initiatives aimed at this specific subset of higher education.