The ALiEM Faculty Incubator: A Novel Online Approach to Faculty Development in Education Scholarship

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Abstract

Problem

Early- and midcareer clinician educators often lack a local discipline-specific community of practice (CoP) that encourages scholarly activity. As a result, these faculty members may feel disconnected from other scholars.

Approach

Academic Life in Emergency Medicine (ALiEM) piloted the Faculty Incubator. This longitudinal, asynchronous, online curriculum focused on developing a virtual CoP among 30 early- to midcareer medical educators (the “incubatees”), 8 core faculty mentors, and 10 guest mentors. The yearlong curriculum included 12 monthly modules focusing on core concepts in medical education scholarship. The initiative connected the incubatees with a virtual community of peers and mentors, with whom they completed multiple scholarly projects, sought mentorship, and engaged professionally. The authors used an online, closed, social media platform (Slack) to facilitate the exchange of ideas.

Outcomes

In the inaugural year (March 2016–February 2017), the mentorship team facilitated exceptional levels of online engagement among incubatees. All participants (incubatees, core mentors, and guest mentors) shared 1,081 files and exchanged a total of 22,665 messages (approximately 62 per day). Of these, 3,036 (13.4%) were via open channels, 5,483 (24.2%) via small groups, and 14,146 (62.4%) via direct messages.

Next Steps

The ALiEM Faculty Incubator represents a proof of concept, and initial outcomes show that it is possible to engage an international group of early- to midcareer medical educators to create a vibrant online CoP. The Faculty Incubator leaders plan to determine whether this engaged group of health professions educators will increase their scholarly output as a result of this initiative.

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