The learning community faculty experience: how longitudinal relationships with learners enhance work meaning

Perspect Med Educ. 2020 Dec;9(6):343-349. doi: 10.1007/s40037-020-00614-z.


Introduction: Work meaning has gained attention as an important contributor to physician job engagement and well-being but little is known about how faculty participation in medical school learning communities might influence this phenomena. Our study goals were to determine how physician faculty members may derive meaning from serving as mentors for longitudinal learning communities of medical students, to understand how that meaning may impact other areas of their work, and relate our findings to existing literature and theoretical frameworks.

Methods: The research team conducted, recorded, transcribed, and coded 25 semi-structured telephone interviews of faculty mentors from four US medical schools with curricular learning communities. The team used an iterative interview coding process to generate final themes and relate these themes to existing literature.

Results: The authors identified five themes of meaning faculty derive from participation as learning community mentors: "I am a better professional," "I am more connected," "I am rejuvenated," "I am contributing," and "I am honored." A sixth theme, "I am harmed," encompassed the negative aspects of the learning community faculty experience. The authors found that their identified themes related closely to the theoretical framework for pathways to meaningful work proposed by Rosso et al.

Discussion: The alignment of the themes we identified on the experience of learning community faculty to existing literature on work meaning corroborates the theoretical framework and deepens understanding of beneficial and harmful learning community effects on faculty. As learning communities become increasingly common within medical schools, this understanding may be important for leaders in academic medicine considering potential indirect benefits of this educational model.

Keywords: Clinical education; Job engagement; Learning communities; Work meaning.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Faculty, Medical / psychology*
  • Faculty, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Interviews as Topic / methods
  • Leadership*
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration
  • Schools, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • United States