The well-defined roles and importance of clinician-educators within academic institutions have received growing national recognition (1–4). The recruitment and retention of faculty who fulfill the missions of education and patient care have become a growing priority among academic departments. The past decade has seen an emergence of effort toward broadening the definition of scholarship as it applies to faculty promotion to recognize and reward the clinical and educational achievements of clinician-educators (5–9). Academies of medical educators are being formed in several institutions nationally that provide faculty development, mentoring, collaborative scholarly opportunities, and greater visibility to groups of excellent faculty committed to the educational missions of their institutions (10).
Psychiatry, like other medical specialties, has several national organizations dedicated to the educators of specific groups, such as residents and students. It also has the Association of Academic Psychiatry (AAP), whose mission is to focus on education in psychiatry at every level, from medical school through lifelong learning for psychiatrists and other physicians. The AAP seeks to help psychiatrists who are interested in careers in academic psychiatry develop the skills and knowledge in teaching, research, and career development that they must have to succeed (11). In 2004, a group of interested members of the AAP began discussing the initiation of a new section within the organization that would be specifically dedicated to supporting the career development of clinician-educators within the field. This section presented its first workshop at the October 2005 annual meeting, entitled “Initiation of an AAP Plan to Promote the Careers of Clinician-Educators.” This workshop served as an avenue for the section leaders to update interested members about the advancements made nationally to bring greater visibility to the critical roles served by clinician-educators within academic institutions. It further provided education about the many facets to consider in preparing for promotion and stimulated practical discussion among the attendees based on their experiences with promotion. Finally, the workshop served as a forum for obtaining input from the attendees about what they perceived to be the needs that this section could serve for members, especially those at the junior faculty level. This article is intended to describe the early stages of the efforts being made by a national organization of psychiatry educators to support the career advancement of clinician-educators.
The workshop, “Initiation of an AAP Plan to Promote the Careers of Clinician-Educators,” was presented by the co-chairmen of the newly formed Clinician-Educator Section (CES) of the AAP, along with two other faculty members, including one working within a dean’s office to promote educational scholarship among faculty, and a junior faculty member who had recently submitted his dossier for promotion. We reviewed the minutes from the first CES meeting held during the 2004 AAP annual conference to focus the workshop on the needs identified by AAP members. Early career development, mentoring, and promotion were topics at the forefront of that initial discussion. We conducted a MEDLINE search of articles published on these topics between 1990 and 2004, yielding 69 citations to be reviewed for relevance to this study. We concluded that the 90-minute workshop would cover early career progression, scholarship, educational portfolios pertaining to promotion, a personal anecdote of a faculty member preparing for promotion, and a more detailed needs assessment of the attendees to provide the CES with further direction in its mission to support the career development of clinician-educators.
The workshop began with a discussion of the early academic career years, which often entail fulfilling the service needs of the department in the clinical and educational realms, therefore involving activities that may only be marginally interrelated. These early years usually have a local level of contribution and influence. As faculty move into their mid-career years, they should begin to align their activities with their interests and strengths, nurture collegiality with faculty, and build their reputation in these areas to reach regional and national recognition. The later career years provide greater consolidation of activities and national recognition to provide leadership and mentoring within their areas of expertise.
Next, a discussion of the broadened definition of scholarship, initially proposed by Boyer (5) and Glassick et al. (6), was presented to clarify how the many activities that spark curiosity and interest in early career faculty can be the seeds of scholarly products. These, in turn, form the foundation for moving toward mid-career areas of expertise and heightened productivity.
We next focused on the development of an educational portfolio to organize and document the quantity and quality of the faculty’s academic activities and achievements chronologically. Its dual role of allowing faculty to reflect on their career development and interests and to bring further richness and detail to a promotion dossier was described to encourage junior faculty to begin collecting these data early in their careers. An anecdotal description of a junior faculty member’s recent preparation for promotion provided an example of a practical application of the previously presented data.
The workshop concluded with an assessment of the attendees’ perceived needs to support their career development. Eight relevant items were selected from the 36-item Faculty Development and Mentoring Needs Assessment Questionnaire (NAQ) (12) to query workshop attendees. NAQ items are rated on a 5-point Likert-type scale, ranging from 1 (not important) to 5 (essential). Attendees responded to items using the audience response system, called the “classroom performance system” (CPS) (13). CPS relies on wireless technology and remote-control handheld interactive response pads for audience members to log their responses to stimulus questions. The stimulus questions were provided, one per slide, in a PowerPoint slideshow format. Three additional items, proposed in a yes/no format, were posed to assess whether the attendees had mentors, a clinician-educator tenure track at their home institution, and protected time for educational scholarship activities.
There were 19 attendees at the workshop, ranging from residents to full professors (Table 1). This rate of participation reflects 12% (N=19/160) of the total number of registrants at the 2005 AAP conference. In accordance with a workshop format, we welcomed the active participation of the attendees through their questions, comments, and personal anecdotes, which helped attendees observe how the topics presented were applicable to their individual careers. The workshop discussed the challenges of obtaining protected time for scholarly work, uncertainty about how to develop mentoring relationships, accessing information about promotion within the attendees’ institutions, and similar early career challenges for senior faculty.
The data gathered from the attendees’ needs assessment using questions from the NAQ were instantly tabulated using the CPS audience response system (Table 2). The results indicated that the topics covered by the presenters, including building collaborative and mentoring relationships, learning to write for publication (i.e., scholarship), and receiving guidance about promotion, were relevant to the attendees’ goals for the workshop. Responses to the yes/no questions indicated that 71% (N=13) of the attendees have mentors and that 54% (N=10) have protected time for educational scholarship activities. Only 31% (N=6) reported that they have a clinician-educator track at their home institutions. The workshop was highly rated by the attendees. It received an overall rating of 4.7 on a 1 to 5 Likert scale. Attendees felt the workshop met the intended objectives (mean=4.7), was professionally useful and valuable (mean=4.8), and increased their knowledge or skills (mean=4.4).
The Clinician-Educator Section of AAP germinated in 2004 with a mission of providing education and support to the career advancement of academic faculty. At the AAP meeting in 2005, the CES offered its first annual workshop to provide faculty with practical yet necessary tools to help them plan and document their professional activities in a manner that helps advance their academic careers. The workshop covered early career choices, scholarly productivity, educational portfolios, and promotion strategies, and concluded with further inquiry into the attendees’ perceived needs to guide the planning of future activities provided by the CES.
Although the results of this study are limited to a small number of respondents, the 2005 CES workshop was attended both by residents and faculty from all academic ranks, and the high evaluation ratings of the workshop indicate it provided the information and tools that attendees wanted. Several informal comments suggest that the workshop provided an optimal level of interaction among attendees and between attendees and presenters, fostering a collegial and supportive atmosphere in which they could discuss career development in a manner that many had not been able to within their own institutions.
The CES evaluated the input from the workshop attendees’ needs assessment, which indicates that their goals for the CES are to help with the following: networking with institutions, collaboration on scholarly projects, formation of long-distance mentoring relationships, and helping members align their academic interests with the goals of their home institutions to help them move toward promotion. In response to the attendees’ input, the CES developed a link from the AAP members’ Web site (www. academicpsychiatry.org) that allows members to list their areas of interest for possible collaborative projects, as well as areas of expertise to present at Grand Rounds or in other venues at outside institutions. This is intended to provide ongoing communication and collaboration throughout the year, rather than the limited amount that takes place at the annual meetings. In addition, the CES will partner with the newly developed Academic Consultation Service of the AAP that will be provided by senior members, who will give individualized guidance regarding curriculum vitae (CV) preparation and promotion guidance to interested members at the annual meetings. This service will also provide an avenue for fostering mentoring relationships with other members who may share similar areas of interest with the junior faculty.
The CES is planning its second annual workshop for the 2006 meeting of the AAP to help participants conceptualize the steps involved in structuring a career that furthers their professional development, as well as illustrate a career path through a well-organized CV. The development of the CES is in line with the mission of the AAP to help faculty make rewarding career decisions, demonstrate their excellence, and advance in their academic careers.
Parts of this paper were presented at the Chicago, Ill., annual meeting of the Association of Academic Psychiatry, September 29, 2005. The authors would like to express their gratitude to Dr. Laura Roberts for pioneering the development of the Clinician-Educator Section within the AAP.