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Article review: Academies of Medical Educators

Posted Apr 26 2010 12:00am
What are Academies of Medical Educators?
As defined by Dewey et al [1], Academies are "a formal organization of academic teaching faculty who have been formally (or specifically) recognized for excellence in their contributions to the education mission of the medical school, and who serve specific functions on behalf of the institution . . . . A functioning organization, not simply a group of recognized faculty."

The overarching purpose of Academies is to bring education back as the central focus of academic medicine. They are supposed to have [2]
  1. a mission that advances and supports educators
  2. a membership composed of distinguished educators
  3. a formal schoolwide organizational structure with designated leadership
  4. dedicated resources that fund mission-related initiatives
In 2003, there were only 21 Academies in existence in the United States. Since then, Academies are becoming increasingly popular. This paper describes their survey of all 127 U.S. medical schools to determine the state of Academies as of 2008, specifically in the areas of membership, benefits, and funding.

With an impressive 96% response rate (122 or 127 schools), the authors noted several interesting findings. Although there were tons of interesting descriptive data from the study, here are the main take-home points
  • There are 36 Academies as of 2008 (year of survey), with 21 created on or after 2004.
  • Surprisingly, less than half of the Academies (16 of 36) required a teaching or educator's portfolio in the application process. These portfolios are an educator's way to show value to all the teaching and educational scholarship that they do, which traditional CV's don't convey.
  • Membership benefits primarily are nonmonetary and include: schoolwide recognition (92% of Academies), networking opportunities (78%), participation in faculty development events (50%), importance in promotions and advancement (50%), and mentorship (39%). Faculty development is a central focus of Academies.
  • Members were selected based on standards or criterion-referenced methods (69%) versus a norm-reference where applicants are measured against each other.
This article is interesting because of it introduces the concept of Academies in medical schools.

The UCSF Academy of Medical Educators was created in 2000 and is going strong. Just sent my application in today. Wish me luck.

[1.] Dewey CM, Friedland JA, Richards BF, Lamki N, Kirkland RT. The emergence of academies of educational excellence: A survey of U.S. medical schools. Acad Med. 2005;80:358 –365.

[2.] Irby DM, Cooke M, Lowenstein D, Richards B. The academy movement: A structural approach to reinvigorating the educational mission. Acad Med. 2004;79:729 –736.

Article Reviewed
Searle, N., Thompson, B., Friedland, J., Lomax, J., Drutz, J., Coburn, M., & Nelson, E. (2010). The Prevalence and Practice of Academies of Medical Educators: A Survey of U.S. Medical Schools Academic Medicine, 85 (1), 48-56 DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181c4846b
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