Share this article on:

Perspective: Toward a Competency Framework for Faculty

Milner, Robert J. PhD; Gusic, Maryellen E. MD; Thorndyke, Luanne E. MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31822bd524

Today, faculty in academic medicine face challenges in all three mission areas—research, education, and patient care—and require a broad set of competencies to survive in this changing environment. To support faculty and to design assessments that match new expectations, the authors argue that it is essential to capture the full scope of skills, knowledge, and behaviors necessary for a successful faculty member. Thus, it is timely to explore and define competencies for faculty in academic medicine.

The authors describe three approaches to identifying faculty competencies. Each reveals diverse but overlapping sets of competency domains, reflecting the breadth of activities expected of today's faculty. To organize these competencies into a coherent framework, the authors propose a model based on a typology of competency. A key feature of the model is the division between occupational competencies, which are largely role-specific, and personal competencies, which are necessary for all faculty. A competency framework also must be developmental, to reflect the growth in skills, knowledge, and behaviors from trainee to expert and to allow for an individual's changing roles over a career.

Such a competency framework will inform professional development activities and require assessment of competence. The generation of competencies also will reveal areas of faculty practice that are poorly measured, requiring new tools to be incorporated into existing processes of faculty evaluation. The authors provide general principles to guide the identification of a competency framework for faculty and invite the academic medicine community to engage in further discussion.

Dr. Milner is professor, Department of Neurology, and associate vice provost for professional development, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Dr. Gusic is Dolores and John Read Professor of Medical Education, professor, Department of Pediatrics, and executive associate dean for educational affairs, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Dr. Thorndyke is professor, Department of Medicine, and vice provost for faculty affairs, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Milner, Office of Faculty Affairs, 55 Lake Avenue North, S2-333A, Worcester, MA 01655; telephone: (508) 856-1301; fax: (508) 856-2129; e-mail:

© 2011 Association of American Medical Colleges