Building Sustainable Professional Development Programs: Applying Strategies From Implementation Science to Translate Evidence Into Practice

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Abstract

Introduction:

Multisite and national professional development (PD) programs for educators are challenging to establish. Use of implementation science (IS) frameworks designed to convert evidence-based intervention methods into effective health care practice may help PD developers translate proven educational methods and models into successful, well-run programs. Implementation of the national Educational Scholars Program (ESP) is used to illustrate the value of the IS model.

Methods:

Four adaptable elements of IS are described: (1) replication of an evidence-based model, (2) systematic stages of implementation, (3) management of implementation using three implementation drivers, and (4) demonstration of program success through measures of fidelity to proven models and sustainability.

Results:

Implementation of the ESP was grounded on five established principles and methods for successful PD. The process was conducted in four IS stages over 10 years: Exploration, Installation, Initial Implementation, and Full Implementation. To ensure effective and efficient processes, attention to IS implementation drivers helped to manage organizational relationships, build competence in faculty and scholars, and address leadership challenges. We describe the ESP's fidelity to evidence-based structures and methods, and offer three examples of sustainability efforts that enabled achievement of targeted program outcomes, including academic productivity, strong networking, and career advancement of scholars.

Discussion:

Application of IS frameworks to program implementation may help other PD programs to translate evidence-based methods into interventions with enhanced impact. A PD program can follow systematic developmental stages and be operationalized by practical implementation drivers, thereby creating successful and sustainable interventions that promote the academic vitality of health professions educators.

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