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Acad Med. 2009 Aug;84(8):1078-88. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181ad1a05.

Nonphysician medical educators: a literature review and job description resource.

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Medical Education Research and Outcomes, Christiana Care Health System, Newark, Delaware 19718, USA.



Designing, implementing, and evaluating high-quality, relevant education for physicians is of great importance. The purpose of this study was to describe the historical development of nonphysician medical educators, including health care professionals working in this role, and to develop a job description resource.


In 2007, the authors conducted a historical content analysis and literature review to identify resources relevant to the early historical development of nonphysician medical educators. Also in 2007, they carried out a thorough review of the English-language literature, 1950-2007, to describe nonphysician health care professionals working as medical educators. To investigate job descriptions, the authors studied job boards of associations and medical education listservs, July 2006 to November 2007.


Nonphysician educators have participated effectively in physicians' learning for more than 80 years. Their popularity has grown exponentially in the last 15 years, as have the numbers of master's-in-medical-education degree programs. The nonphysician medical educator can provide essential help to the overtaxed physician educator in many facets of the educational process, such as educational theory; curriculum design, validation, and evaluation; clinical instruction; and medical education research. The study of job descriptions yielded 237 distinctly different duties in 17 categories.


The nonphysician medical educator will never replace the physician educator. However, as team training, interdisciplinary education, and the general competencies become the norm, the need for the nonphysician medical educator will increase. The authors believe the use of nonphysician medical educators offers a way to improve the quality of physician clinical education while controlling costs. They also recommend areas for future research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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