Academic Medicine

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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181ffaf84
Medical Education Research

Supporting Medical Education Research Quality: The Association of American Medical Colleges' Medical Education Research Certificate Program

Gruppen, Larry D. PhD; Yoder, Ernie MD, PhD; Frye, Ann PhD; Perkowski, Linda C. PhD; Mavis, Brian PhD

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Abstract

The quality of the medical education research (MER) reported in the literature has been frequently criticized. Numerous reasons have been provided for these shortcomings, including the level of research training and experience of many medical school faculty. The faculty development required to improve MER can take various forms. This article describes the Medical Education Research Certificate (MERC) program, a national faculty development program that focuses exclusively on MER. Sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges and led by a committee of established medical education researchers from across the United States, the MERC program is built on a set of 11 interactive workshops offered at various times and places across the United States. MERC participants can customize the program by selecting six workshops from this set to fulfill requirements for certification. This article describes the history, operations, current organization, and evaluation of the program. Key elements of the program's success include alignment of program content and focus with needs identified by prospective users, flexibility in program organization and logistics to fit participant schedules, an emphasis on practical application of MER principles in the context of the participants' activities and interests, consistency in program content and format to ensure standards of quality, and a sustainable financial model. The relationship between the national MERC program and local faculty development initiatives is also described. The success of the MERC program suggests that it may be a possible model for nationally disseminated faculty development programs in other domains.

© 2011 Association of American Medical Colleges

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