Defining the key roles and competencies of the clinician-educator of the 21st century: a national mixed-methods study

Acad Med. 2014 May;89(5):783-9. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000217.


Purpose: To determine a consensus definition of a clinician-educator and the related domains of competence.

Method: During September 2010 to March 2011, the authors conducted a two-phase mixed-methods national study in Canada using (1) focus groups of deans of medicine and directors of medical education centers to define the attributes, domains of competence, and core competencies of clinician-educators using a grounded theory analysis, and (2) a survey of 1,130 deans, academic chairs, and residency program directors to validate the focus group results.

Results: The 22 focus group participants described being active in clinical practice, applying theory to practice, and engaging in education scholarship-but not holding a particular administrative position-as essential attributes of clinician-educators. Program directors accounted for 68% of the 350 survey respondents, academic chairs for 19%, and deans for 13% (response rate: 31%). Among respondents, 85% endorsed the need for physicians with advanced training in medical education to serve as educational consultants. Domains of clinician-educator competence endorsed by >85% of respondents as important or very important were assessment, communication, curriculum development, education theory, leadership, scholarship, and teaching. With regard to training requirements, 55% endorsed a master's degree in education as effective preparation, whereas 39% considered faculty development programs effective.

Conclusions: On the basis of this study's findings, the authors defined a clinician-educator as a clinician active in health professional practice who applies theory to education practice, engages in education scholarship, and serves as a consultant to other health professionals on education issues.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Canada
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Competency-Based Education*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Faculty, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Male
  • Physician's Role