Recognizing the value of community involvement by AHC faculty: a case study

Acad Med. 2005 Apr;80(4):322-6. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200504000-00003.


Physicians seek connections to their communities. Some health care and academic leaders believe that facilitating the creation of more such community connections is one way to reverse the trend of waning social and political legitimacy for the U.S. medical profession. For academic health centers (AHCs), such connections can maintain local and state support crucial to their long-term success. Multiple barriers exist to such involvement, especially for physicians in AHCs, where work done beyond direct patient care, administration, and research rarely contributes to the tenure and promotion process. The authors present a case study to show how one department in an AHC, beginning in the late 1990s, has been overcoming these barriers to incorporate the scholarship of community engagement into its mission and structure. The case study incorporates theoretical underpinnings to crystallize the following lessons that the department has learned so far: (1) If academic departments wish community service to be a central part of their mission, they need ways to institutionalize community engagement within organizational structures. (2) Community engagement can be scholarly. (3) If faculty members are to be recognized for their service activities, measures are necessary to determine what constitutes "excellence" and "scholarship" in community service. (4) Scholarship of community engagement goes beyond performing service activities in the community.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / standards*
  • Academic Medical Centers / trends
  • Community Medicine / standards*
  • Community Medicine / trends
  • Community-Institutional Relations*
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • North Carolina
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Quality of Health Care