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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000268
Research Reports

The Impact of a Faculty Learning Community on Professional and Personal Development: The Facilitator Training Program of the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare

Chou, Calvin L. MD, PhD; Hirschmann, Krista MA, PhD; Fortin, Auguste H. VI MD, MPH; Lichstein, Peter R. MD

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Abstract

Purpose: Relationship-centered care attends to the entire network of human relationships essential to patient care. Few faculty development programs prepare faculty to teach principles and skills in relationship-centered care. One exception is the Facilitator Training Program (FTP), a 25-year-old training program of the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare. The authors surveyed FTP graduates to determine the efficacy of its curriculum and the most important elements for participants’ learning.

Method: In 2007, surveys containing quantitative and narrative elements were distributed to 51 FTP graduates. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The authors analyzed narratives using Burke’s dramatistic pentad as a qualitative framework to delineate how interrelated themes interacted in the FTP.

Results: Forty-seven respondents (92%) identified two essential acts that happened in the program: an iterative learning process, leading to heightened personal awareness and group facilitation skills; and longevity of learning and effect on career. The structure of the program’s learning community provided the scene, and the agents were the participants, who provided support and contributed to mutual success. Methods of developing skills in personal awareness, group facilitation, teaching, and feedback constituted agency. The purpose was to learn skills and to join a community to share common values.

Conclusions: The FTP is a learning community that provided faculty with skills in principles of relationship-centered care. Four further features that describe elements of this successful faculty-based learning community are achievement of self-identified goals, distance learning modalities, opportunities to safely discuss workplace issues outside the workplace, and self-renewing membership.

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges

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