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The Essential Value of Projects in Faculty Development

Gusic, Maryellen E. MD; Milner, Robert J. PhD; Tisdell, Elizabeth J. EdD; Taylor, Edward W. EdD; Quillen, David A. MD; Thorndyke, Luanne E. MD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181eb4d17
Faculty
Abstract

Projects—planned activities with specific goals and outcomes—have been used in faculty development programs to enhance participant learning and development. Projects have been employed most extensively in programs designed to develop faculty as educators. The authors review the literature and report the results of their 2008 study of the impact of projects within the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine Junior Faculty Development Program, a comprehensive faculty development program. Using a mixed-methods approach, the products of project work, the academic productivity of program graduates, and the impact of projects on career development were analyzed. Faculty who achieved the most progress on their projects reported the highest number of academic products related to their project and the highest number of overall academic achievements. Faculty perceived that their project had three major effects on their professional development: production of a tangible outcome, development of a career focus, and development of relationships with mentors and peers. On the basis of these findings and a review of the literature, the authors conclude that projects are an essential element of a faculty development program. Projects provide a foundation for future academic success by enabling junior faculty to develop and hone knowledge and skills, identify a career focus and gain recognition within their community, generate scholarship, allocate time to academic work, and establish supportive relationships and collaborative networks. A list of best practices to successfully incorporate projects within faculty development programs is provided.

Author Information

Dr. Gusic is professor, Department of Pediatrics, and associate dean of clinical education, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Milner is professor, Department of Neural & Behavioral Sciences, and director, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Tisdell is professor, Department of Adult Education, Pennsylvania State University School of Behavioral Sciences and Education, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Taylor is associate professor, Department of Adult Education, Pennsylvania State University School of Behavioral Sciences and Education, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Quillen is professor and chair, Department of Ophthalmology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Thorndyke is vice provost for faculty affairs, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts. At the time this article was written, she was associate dean of professional development, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Thorndyke, Office of Faculty Affairs, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Room s1-340, Worcester, MA 01655-0002; e-mail: Luanne.thorndyke@umassmed.edu.

First published online July 28, 2010

© 2010 Association of American Medical Colleges