Introduction: Health professions education uses innovative projects to promote faculty development and institution change. Faculty perceptions of the factors that promote project sustainability affect how faculty conceptualize and implement their innovations, which influences whether and how they plan for sustainability. This paper compares educators' perceptions of factors that influence sustainability in innovative projects with factors identified in project sustainability literature, to identify areas of convergence and divergence.
Methods: Using questionnaires, faculty development fellowship participants from Brazil and India shared their perceptions on factors influencing their project's sustainability. An analysis framework was developed from existing project sustainability literature; faculty responses were then coded through an iterative process.
Results: Key sustainability themes identified by faculty included project-level factors related to project design, stakeholder support, monitoring and evaluation, and project outcomes. Identified context level factors were related to institutional and governmental support as well as self-motivation and peer support. Availability of resources and funding were identified as relevant at both the project and context levels. Project-level factors were more often cited than context-level factors as key to ensuring sustainability.
Conclusions: Faculty development efforts in health professions education should employ strategies to target these themes in promoting innovation sustainability. These include preengagement with institutional leaders, alignment with public sector goals, strategic diffusion of information, project expansion and transferability, capacity building in monitoring and evaluation, and creation of a community of educators for information exchange and support.