Why invest in an educational fellowship program?Acad Med. 2006 Nov; 81(11):936-40.AM
Expanding and refining the repertoire of medical school teaching faculty is required by the many current and changing demands of medical education. To meet this challenge academic medical institutions have begun to establish programs--including educational fellowship programs--to improve the teaching toolboxes of faculty and to empower them to assume leadership roles within both institutional and educational arenas. In this article, the authors (1) provide historical background on educational fellowship programs; (2) describe the prevalence and focus of these programs in North American medical schools, based on data from a recent (2005) survey; and (3) give a brief overview of the nine fellowship programs that are discussed fully in other articles in this issue of Academic Medicine. These articles describe very different types of educational fellowships that, nevertheless, share common features: a cohort of faculty members who are selected to participate in a longitudinal set of faculty development activities to improve participants' teaching skills and to build a cadre of educational leaders for the institution. Evaluation of educational fellowships remains a challenging issue, but the authors contend that one way to evaluate the programs' effectiveness is to look at the educational improvements that have been instigated by program graduates. The authors hope that the various program descriptions will help readers to improve their existing programs and/or to initiate new programs.