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Clinician Educators

Stephen A. Geraci, MD
Stephen A. Geraci, MD

Though suggestions have been made to subdivide this group of faculty physicians (into Master Teachers, Clinician Teachers, Educational Administrative Physicians, etc.), the term Clinician Educator (CE) is generally applied to full-time physician faculty members (M.D. or D.O.) who spend the vast majority of their professional time delivering direct patient care and teaching students, residents, fellows, and other health care professionals in-training in one or more clinical settings. They also provide classroom and small group teaching, simulation sessions, learner preparation for standardized examinations, and often trainee guidance in presentation and writing projects. They assess, critique, and help improve learner performance, and are the primary role models, career mentors and advisors for clinical trainees. They fill other critical roles, including program/clerkship/fellowship director (and their associate and assistant directors), "core" faculty for one or more GME programs, and membership on key committees related not only to educational programs but also to quality and safety, waste reduction, medical school and program accreditation, and clinical operations. Often, they perform formal educational research or serve as question writers for the USMLE, ITE, and ABMS specialty and subspecialty exams. Their participation is essential to most non-profit professional organizations, where they serve on Program, Education, and other committees1. Using this broad definition, CE’s constitute over 90% of the full-time faculty of U.S. allopathic medical schools. Clearly, medical education as we know it would cease to exist without a large, dedicated group of CE's at all career stages making their contributions.

Career advancement, a pathway fairly well-defined for physician scientists, remains ethereal for CEs. Most publications on this topic report single center experiences, few with objective metrics for ultimate career success. CEs must produce scholarship2 sufficient for promotion (and sometimes tenure), but typically have little non-clinical “protected” time (typically ≤20%) to do so and rarely if ever obtain competitive funding from extramural sources. They are compensated largely via income from their own clinical work, sometimes including institutional dollars to a small degree3. On-site mentors and advisors to assist CEs along their career paths are lacking at many institutions, forcing young educators to the internet, publications, and national meetings for insight and guidance.

Several years ago, The Southern Society for Clinical Investigation (SSCI), realizing the importance of CEs to the future of academic medicine, created an Educator Track to full membership. More recently, acknowledging the learning needs for CEs, we began adding sessions to the annual Southern Regional Meeting (SRM) specifically targeting topics of need and interest to this group. A 4-hour workshop entitled "Career Advancement for Clinician Educations" was presented at the 2015 and 2016 meetings, covering topics such as career planning, choosing projects, achievement documentation, performing educational research, scholarship for promotion, and mentoring. An abstract category including Education, Ethics and Advocacy was added to the scientific sessions, and in 2016 the first medical education "State-of-the-Art" lecture was presented. Combined with sessions such as Manuscript Preparation for Peer-Reviewed Publication, and Moving Your Clinical Case Presentation into a Published Manuscript presented by our Pediatrics partners at the SRMs, SSCI has provided an ever growing content for CEs at our annual meeting. Similarly, the American Journal of Medical Sciences, the primary peer-reviewed publication of SSCI, has added focused clinical reviews and a new section entitled "The Art and Science of Medical Education" to its monthly publication. A symposium issue, Medical Education and Educators, is scheduled for publication in February 2017 and will address a number of issues and questions of keen interest to CEs.

The attached slide sets are the presentations of the faculty from the 2016 workshop mentioned above. Hopefully our educator members who were unable to attend the SRM this year will find them of value.

Stephen A. Geraci, M.D.
Councilor, Southern Society for Clinical Investigation
Professor, Internal Medicine, Quillen College of Medicine

References

1Geraci SA, Babbott SF, Buranosky R, Devine DR, Hollander H, Kovach RA, Berkowitz L. AAIM Report on Master Teachers/Clinician Educators Part 1: Need and Skills. APM Perspectives. Am J Med. 2010 Aug;123(8):769-773. PMID# 20670734

2Geraci SA, Hollander H, Babbott SF, Buranosky R, Devine DR, Kovach RA, Berkowitz L. AAIM Report on Master Teachers/Clinician Educators Part 4: Faculty Role and Scholarship. APM Perspectives. Am J Med. 2010 Nov;123(11):1065-1069. PMID# 21035595

3Geraci SA, Devine DR, Babbott SF, Hollander H, Buranosky R, Kovach RA, Berkowitz L. AAIM Report on Master Teachers/Clinician Educators Part 3: Finances and Resourcing. APM Perspectives. Am J Med. 2010 Oct;123(10):963-967. PMID# 20920701

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