Cost-Effective Learning for Cost-Effective Care? : Academic Medicine

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Letters to the Editor

Cost-Effective Learning for Cost-Effective Care?

Walsh, Kieran FRCPI

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Academic Medicine 86(12):p 1485-1486, December 2011. | DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182358c5c
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To the Editor:

Searle and colleagues1 make excellent arguments for the need of a strategic approach in faculty development. Most important, they are up-front that funding is essential to make things actually happen. They are correct that online learning resources are likely to be a cost-effective approach, as is wide sharing of materials between different faculties and different disciplines. However, no matter how cost-efficient these approaches might be, some new funding will be needed, and we medical educators should wonder how successful we are likely to be in these cost-constrained times.

To make success more likely, could we propose some return-on-investment arguments? We could posit that investing in faculty development now will save costs later, as we would then have teachers who are more fit to teach the next generation of doctors, who would, in turn, be more likely to provide better care. However, such returns would be long-term and inevitably difficult to prove because of a myriad of confounding factors.

Another approach: Why not define our plans clearly and limit them in scope and format? We could, perhaps, develop faculty by means of interdisciplinary online learning resources so that they can better teach junior physicians telemedicine. We could follow up with the learners and see what cost-effective changes to their practices they made.

Competitors for health care funding have always included biomedical researchers, and medical schools will always be attracted by those researchers' ability to bring in almost immediate major grant funding. We educators need to be equally convincing. Promoting cost-effective learning to result in cost-effective care might be the way to get the support our faculty deserve.

Kieran Walsh, FRCPI

Editor, BMJ Learning, The Medical Education Service of the BMJ Publishing Group, London, United Kingdom; [email protected].


1 Searle NS, Thibault GE, Greenberg SB. Faculty development for medical educators: Current barriers and future directions. Acad Med. 2011;86:405–406. Accessed July 22, 2011.
© 2011 Association of American Medical Colleges