Objective: At the University of California, Davis (UCD), the authors sought to develop an institutional network of reflective educational leaders. The authors wanted to enhance faculty understanding of medical education's complexity, and improve educators' effectiveness as regional/national leaders.
Methods: The UCD Teaching Scholars Program is a half-year course, comprised of 24 weekly half-day small group sessions, for faculty in the School of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. The program's philosophical framework was centered on personal reflection to enhance change: 1) understanding educational theory to build metacognitive bridges, 2) diversity of perspectives to broaden horizons, 3) colleagues as peer teachers to improve interactive experiences, and 4) reciprocal process of testing theory and examining practice to reinforce learning. The authors describe the program development (environmental analysis, marketing, teaching techniques), specific challenges, and failed experiments. The authors provide examples of interactive exercises used to enhance curricular content. The authors enrolled 7-10 faculty per year, from a diverse pool of current and near-future educational leaders.
Results: Four years of Teaching Scholars participants were surveyed about program experiences and short/longer term outcomes. Twenty-six (76%) respondents reported that they were very satisfied with the course (4.6/5), individual curricular blocks (4.2-4.6), and other faculty (4.7). They described participation barriers/facilitators. Participants reported positive impact on their effectiveness as educators (100%), course directors (84%), leaders (72%), and educational researchers (52%). They described specific acquired attitudes, knowledge, and skills. They described changes in their approach to education/career changed based on program participation. Combining faculty from different educational backgrounds significantly broadened perspectives, leading to greater/new collaboration.
Discussion: Developing a cadre of master educators requires careful program planning, implementation, and program/participant evaluation. Based on participant feedback, our program was a success at stimulating change. This open assessment of programmatic strengths and weaknesses may provide a template for other medical institutions that seek to enhance their institutional educational mission.