The Duke Medicine Graduate Medical Education Quasi-Endowment, established in 2006, provides infrastructure support and encourages educational innovation. The authors describe Duke’s experience with the “grassroots innovation” part of the fund, the Duke Innovation Fund, and discuss the Innovation Fund’s processes for application, review, and implementation, and also outcomes, impact, and intended and unintended consequences.
In the five years of the Innovation Fund described (2007–2011), 105 projects have been submitted, and 78 have been funded. Thirty-seven projects have been completed. Approved funding ranged from $2,363 to $348,750, with an average award of $66,391. This represents 42% of funding originally requested. Funding could be requested for a period of 6 months to 3 years. The average duration of projects was 27 months, with a range from 6 months to 36 months. Eighty percent of projects were completed on time. Two projects were closed because of lack of progress and failure to adhere to reporting requirements. Thirty-nine are ongoing.
Program directors report great success in meeting project outcomes and concrete impacts on resident and faculty attitudes and performance. Ninety-two percent report that their projects would have never been accomplished without this funding. Projects have resulted in at least 68 posters, abstracts, and peer-reviewed presentations. At least 12 peer-reviewed manuscripts were published.
There has been tremendous diversity of projects; all 13 clinical departments have been represented. Interdepartmental and intradepartmental program cooperation has increased. This modest seed money has resulted in demonstrable sustainable impacts on teaching and learning, and increased morale and scholarly recognition.