Faculty evaluation in Departments of Family Medicine: do our universities measure up?

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Family medicine programmes at Canadian universities have expanded dramatically over the past several years. The development of effective means of faculty evaluation is a real concern for these departments as they strive to maintain the high quality of their teaching programmes in the face of rapid change. The literature on faculty evaluation, including reviews and articles discussing the application of faculty evaluations, is reviewed. The current state of faculty evaluation at three Canadian family medicine departments has also been surveyed. Student evaluations were found to be valid, accurate and well studied. They are not perfect, however, and require the use of additional methods such as peer review or video review in conjunction in order to provide a comprehensive evaluation of all areas of faculty activity. Faculty evaluation in family medicine teaching units and community-based settings has not been well studied. Our survey of faculty evaluation at three Canadian universities shows much room for improvement, particularly in community-based settings where evaluation is almost non-existent. Expanding the use of faculty evaluations for formative means and linking evaluation to faculty development opportunities are essential if improvements to the currently used systems are to be successful and accepted by faculty. Special consideration must be given to community-based settings where systems designed for use in larger university settings will need to be modified substantially before they can be used effectively. Further research is required in this area.

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