The Double Helix of Activity and Scholarship: Building a Medical Education Career With Limited Resources

Med Educ. 2008 Jan;42(1):34-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2007.02976.x.


Context: Creating respected scholarship from educational and clinical activities is challenging for medical school faculty members. In the USA and Europe, criteria for 'scholarship' has broadened and enriched. However, in developing countries, promotion systems generally continue to emphasise traditional laboratory or clinical research.

Objective: This paper sets forth a broad conception of scholarship and provides international distribution venues that reinforce the importance of scholarly activity corresponding to clinical and educational work.

Methods: Information sources about non-traditional scholarship included 50 medical school faculty from 20 economically developing nations plus senior faculty from throughout the USA. Resources for distribution venues were drawn from a citation index search, a literature search and Google.

Results: The authors provide resources for faculty advancement, including examples of non-traditional scholarship that meet rigorous criteria, and a comprehensive list of venues for the dissemination of educational materials and studies. They give a relative value process for academic work to assist faculty in developing educational scholarship. Finally, they propose a double helix model for academic advancement, consisting of 2 congruent helices with the same axis, 1 representing educational, service or clinical activity and the other scholarly achievement.

Conclusions: These materials and the double helix model will support faculty and promotion committees, especially those from schools that have not yet broadened their view of scholarship, to envisage a realistic starting point and see how educational and clinical activities can generate internationally recognised, high-quality scholarship.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Career Mobility*
  • Developed Countries*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Education, Medical*
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Peer Review
  • Schools, Medical