The Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University has 163 private-practice obstetricians and gynecologists teaching clerkship students, on a volunteer basis, in six Michigan cities. The department wanted to learn what motivates their involvement in the department's required clerkship, to determine their attitudes toward private office teaching, and to determine what incentives are important to them in their role as educators.Methods
The department developed a questionnaire that was mailed to the obstetricians and gynecologists involved in its required obstetrics and gynecology clerkship. The response rate was 68% (111 of 163).Results
Respondents indicated personal and professional motivations transcend financial considerations. Almost 60% of respondents reported at least a moderate interest in teaching in their private offices in spite of perceived negative consequences, such as adverse impact on patient flow. The incentives in which private practitioners were primarily interested included seminars or meetings that would enhance their teaching skills or educational contribution; discounts on computers, athletic and cultural events, and books; and university support in producing educational materials.Conclusion
Departments using private practitioners in medical education need to nurture the relationship continually with their volunteer faculty. Faculty development aimed at assisting private practitioners with their teaching role in the ambulatory care setting might be extremely worthwhile. Financial remuneration may not be key to attracting and retaining volunteer faculty. The implications of pay arrangements for volunteer faculty should be considered carefully before implementation.