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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

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000268
Research Reports

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.

Dr. Chou is professor, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, California.

Dr. Hirschmann is director, MATRIX Center for Interprofessional Collaboration, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Allentown, Pennsylvania, and assistant professor, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.

Dr. Fortin is associate professor, Department of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.

Dr. Lichstein is professor, Department of Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Funding/Support: Analysis of the project was supported by an anonymous donation to the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Ethical approval for this study was received from the institutional review board of Wake Forest University.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Chou, Department of Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 4150 Clement St. (111), San Francisco, CA 94121; telephone: (415) 221-4810, ext. 2740; fax: (415) 750-6982; e-mail:

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges