#5 What does it take to make a Chris Watling?

Host: Jason R. Frank

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Episode article

Cameron, M. W., Crowther, L. N., & Huang, G. C. (2023). Faculty Development and Infrastructure to Support Educational Scholarship: A Scoping Review on Author Development. Academic Medicine, 98(1), 112. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000004896

Introduction 

If you are listening to our podcast, you probably are engaged in producing scholarship in health professions education. For some of us, research and scholarship are a source of joy, curiosity, and creativity in our lives. For others, the idea of getting a project published is daunting, panic-inducing, and hopeless. If you mentor young scholars as they engage in exploring their own contributions to our field, you know that some colleagues really struggle to get published. Sadly, many get frustrated and fade away, swallowed by the infinite demand for clinical work, their contributions to meded lost. 

So how do we support developing authors for success?

There is a body of literature on the barriers to becoming a successful scholar. There is a handful of papers on example programs to support early career authors. But what do we really know? 

Enter Cameron, Crowther, and Huang and their work in this month’s issue of Academic Medicine. Their paper is titled: Faculty Development and Infrastructure to Support Educational Scholarship: A Scoping Review on Author Development.  

The purpose of the study was “to characterize faculty development programs in educational scholarship, namely author development initiatives, in academic medicine”. 

Methods

The authors conducted a scoping review of “What interventions have been used to help faculty publish educational scholarship?”. They justified the choice of a scoping review as the current state of the literature does not include controlled studies that are easily comparable, and thus does not allow for an SR or meta. They used the PRIMA-ScR as a guide; no mention of Arksey & OMalley. 

They searched PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar, Proquest databases and included English papers with formal instruction for medical educators for scholarly writing. They excluded papers about how to do research, not focused on publishing, not focused on formal teaching, no full text available, and other article types (letters, reviews, abstracts, etc). They used snowballing from reference lists to find other potential papers. 

They describe appropriate extraction and consensus methods. They nicely describe how they developed, piloted, and refined their extraction tool.  

They provided a small reflexivity paragraph that proposed that they are immersed in this topic in a pragmatic way. 

Results  

Cameron et al found 630 unique papers and added 293 through snowballing (total = 923). They excluded 885 and reviewed 38. 20 (2%) were included, describing 18 programs. 

They organized their descriptions of the programs found using CIPP (context, input, process, product). Programs were usually sponsored by a professional society, a university medical school, or a department. There was a wide range of participants, from 3-172. 78% were focused on educational scholarship, while it was just a component of the other programs. In terms of expectations, this varied from participation to requiring disseminated scholarship.  

The programs were very heterogeneous in processes and time allocation. Time varied from 6 weeks to 3 years (120 hours!). Group and independent work were the main methods, but also mentoring, didactics, and fellowships.  

Success factors included leader support, culture that values ed scholarship, mentors, and resources. 

Outcomes looked at satisfaction, self-efficacy, scholarly products, and career measures. 

Discussion

The authors concluded that all published examples of author development programs were successful to varying degrees and in varying ways (?file drawer effect). They commented that some programs implied that author success involved developing skills/competencies, while others saw success through a social learning process, a journey with peers and mentors.  

Their bottom line: successful programs need resources, support, mentors, a culture that values HPE scholarship, with experiential-social-skills embedded designs. Impact can be far ranging, including careers, publications, grants, promotions, and satisfaction. 

This paper is important in a few ways: 

  1. It shows that there are still questions about how to set up emerging HPE scholars for publishing success. 
  2. It provides an overview of a heterogeneous body of literature for others to build on. This is the power of scoping reviews.
  3. It identifies gaps in existing studies. No mention of equity and diversity measures. No mention of professional identity formation.  

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