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Acad Med. 2009 Aug;84(8):1089-97. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181ad1635.

The personal and professional impact of a fellowship in medical education.

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Department of Medicine, Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.



Faculty development is essential to fostering excellence in medical education and desired learning outcomes. Little is known, however, about the personal and professional impact of faculty development programs on participants, learners, and institutions. We explored the perspectives of medical education fellowship graduates on their skills, self-perceptions, participation in learning communities, and reflective practice. We also explored the results of the implementation of a scholarly medical education project.


The study was a qualitative analysis of semistructured interviews with 40 faculty from multiple disciplines who, between 1999 and 2005, had completed a yearlong fellowship in medical education.


Through qualitative analysis, we identified 11 themes. Study participants described postfellowship changes in knowledge, self-perceptions, and behaviors and institutional changes that resulted from education projects. With a foundation of principles and skills, the Fellows' confidence and identity as educators were strengthened by their sense of self-efficacy, others' perceptions of their credibility, and support from a community of peers and mentors. This change affected the graduates' professional career trajectories.


Common themes in this and other studies suggest that enhancement of knowledge about medical education and teaching skills, protected time, a supportive learning environment, relationships with peers and mentors, validation of educational expertise by others, community building and networking, and emphasis on self-reflection and awareness are essential elements of faculty fellowships in medical education. This analysis suggests that these elements foster the evolution of identity, confidence, and self-efficacy among fellowship graduates. This personal development promotes the professional development of the medical educator.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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