The Impact of a National Faculty Development Program Embedded Within an Academic Professional Organization

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Abstract

A sizeable literature describes the effectiveness of institution-based faculty development programs in nurturing faculty educators as scholars, but national programs are less common and seldom evaluated. To fill this role, the Educational Scholars Program (ESP) was created within the Academic Pediatric Association (APA) in 2006. It is a national, three-year, cohort-based certification program focused on fostering educational scholarship. This article describes the development and outcomes of an innovative program embedded within the framework of a national professional organization, and offers a model for potential adaptation by similar organizations to enhance their support of educators.

After 10 years, 171 scholars have enrolled in the ESP, and 50 faculty have participated. Scholars are assigned a faculty advisor and participate in three full-day sessions at a national meeting; online, interactive learning modules; and a mentored, scholarly project. The program receives support from the APA in four organizational frames: structural, human resource, political, and symbolic. The self-perceived scholarly proficiency of the scholars in Cohort 1 increased significantly over time, and their productivity and collaborations increased during and after the program. Scholars wrote enthusiastically about their experience in yearly and postprogram evaluations. In interviews, eight past APA presidents explained that the ESP strengthened the APA’s mission, created new leaders, and provided a new model for other APA programs. Outcomes of the ESP suggest that a longitudinal faculty development program embedded within a national professional organization can create a social enterprise not only within the organization but also within the broader national community of educator–scholars.

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