Background: Project design and implementation, applied to real life situations, is emerging as an educational strategy for application of health professions faculty development learning within a supportive environment.
Aim: We conducted a retrospective analysis of project evolution to identify common experiences, challenges, and successful strategies of 54 mid-career faculty members from 18 developing countries who attended the Foundation for the Advancement of International Medical Education and Research Institute between 2001 and 2006 and designed, conducted, and evaluated education innovations at their home institutions.
Methods: Chronological analysis of the evolution of 54 projects over the initial 16-18 months of the 2-year Fellowship was based on an iterative qualitative analysis of 324 reports and individual interview transcripts collected over 6 years.
Results: Useful skill areas for project implementation included educational methods, leadership and management, and relationships/collaboration. Common challenges included competing responsibilities, lack of protected time, and limited resources. Themes identified with the evolution and success of education innovation projects included leadership and organization, collaboration, personal professional growth, and awareness of the relevant societal context.
Conclusions: Common challenges and success factors in project-based faculty development were identified. Twelve practical strategies to promote successful project-based faculty development emerged that can be generalized for faculty development.