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Acad Med. 2017 May 30. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001777. [Epub ahead of print]

Continuing Professional Development for Faculty: An Elephant in the House of Academic Medicine or the Key to Future Success?

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D.A. Davis is professor emeritus, University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. W.F. Rayburn is distinguished professor and associate dean, Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, New Mexico. G.A. Smith is assistant dean, Faculty Development in Education, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, and professor of organization, information, and learning sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico.


The scope of change required by academic medical centers (AMCs) to maintain their viability and achieve their tripartite mission in the future is large; such reform is affected by numerous global, national, and local forces. Most AMCs focus their transformational efforts on organizational infrastructure (e.g., undertaking payment reform, developing new organizational structures, investing in information technology) and educational programs (with subsequent changes in undergraduate and graduate medical education curricula). Although useful, these efforts have failed to produce the kind of change required for AMCs to succeed in the future.The authors of this Commentary describe a key element missing from most of these reform efforts-the preparation of faculty for new models of health care and educational practice. To address this issue, they call for the effective, system-aligned presence of continuing professional development (CPD) programs. CPD combines continuing medical education, with its focus on content knowledge, and faculty development, with its focus on evidence-based learning methodologies, across the institution to produce a more robust, system- and outcomes-oriented program to facilitate both individual and organizational learning. If sufficiently supported, CPD programs can provide a platform for the human changes necessary to ensure the smooth transition of AMCs to new models of education, clinical research, and ultimately patient care.

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