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A Multi-Institutional Longitudinal Faculty Development Program in Humanism Supports the Professional Development of Faculty Teachers

Branch, William T. Jr MD; Frankel, Richard M. PhD; Hafler, Janet P. EdD; Weil, Amy B. MD; Gilligan, MaryAnn C. MD, MPH; Litzelman, Debra K. MD; Plews-Ogan, Margaret MD; Rider, Elizabeth A. MSW, MD; Osterberg, Lars G. MD, MPH; Dunne, Dana MD; May, Natalie B. PhD; Derse, Arthur R. MD, JD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001940

The authors describe the first 11 academic years (2005–2006 through 2016–2017) of a longitudinal, small-group faculty development program for strengthening humanistic teaching and role modeling at 30 U.S. and Canadian medical schools that continues today. During the yearlong program, small groups of participating faculty met twice monthly with a local facilitator for exercises in humanistic teaching, role modeling, and related topics that combined narrative reflection with skills training using experiential learning techniques. The program focused on the professional development of its participants. Thirty schools participated; 993 faculty, including some residents, completed the program.

In evaluations, participating faculty at 13 of the schools scored significantly more positively as rated by learners on all dimensions of medical humanism than did matched controls. Qualitative analyses from several cohorts suggest many participants had progressed to more advanced stages of professional identity formation after completing the program. Strong engagement and attendance by faculty participants as well as the multimodal evaluation suggest that the program may serve as a model for others. Recently, most schools adopting the program have offered the curriculum annually to two or more groups of faculty participants to create sufficient numbers of trained faculty to positively influence humanistic teaching at the institution.

The authors discuss the program’s learning theory, outline its curriculum, reflect on the program’s accomplishments and plans for the future, and state how faculty trained in such programs could lead institutional initiatives and foster positive change in humanistic professional development at all levels of medical education.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text.

W.T. Branch Jr is Carter Smith Sr Professor of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia.

R.M. Frankel is professor of medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, and is affiliated with the Education Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio.

J.P. Hafler is professor of pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.

A.B. Weil is professor of medicine, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

M.C. Gilligan is associate professor of medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

D.K. Litzelman is professor of medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana.

M. Plews-Ogan is associate professor of medicine, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Virginia.

E.A. Rider is assistant professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, and director of academic programs, Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice, Boston Children’s Hospital, both in Boston, Massachusetts.

L.G. Osterberg is associate professor of medicine (teaching), Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California.

D. Dunne is associate professor of medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.

N.B. May is associate professor of research, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.

A.R. Derse is Julia and David Uihlein Professor of Medical Humanities, professor of bioethics and emergency medicine, and director, Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Funding/Support: The authors wish to thank the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation for generous support.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable. No original results are reported; all research cited was approved or exempted by the institutional review boards of the participating institutions.

Previous presentations: Research findings cited in this article were presented at the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) national meeting, Los Angeles, California, April 26–29, 2007; International Conference on Communication in Healthcare (ICCH), Miami, Florida, October 4–8, 2009; ICCH, Chicago, Illinois, October 16–19, 2011; SGIM national meeting, Phoenix, Arizona, May 4–7, 2011; and ICCH, New Orleans, Louisiana, October 25–28, 2015.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at

Correspondence should be addressed to William T. Branch Jr, Emory University School of Medicine, Faculty Office Building, 49 Jesse Hill Jr Dr., Atlanta, GA 30303; telephone: (404) 778-1610; e-mail:

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