Friday, November 6, 2009

Learning Never Stops


Once again, I find myself in the Omaha airport using their free wi-fi to update my blog. Today I travel to Boston for the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

This meeting is not sciencey.

This meeting features my hobby, faculty development. If we want faculty to perform functions not featured in their degree training, then we must provide opportunities to further their skills.  For example, no physician or scientist I know received administrative training during their formative years. Instead, the traditional route has been to promote them until they fail. This strategy actually worked out pretty well for awhile; if you can run a big lab or clinical section, you probably have the skills to lead a department. Unfortunately, the strategy also leads some people to failure.

I serve on a couple of committees that implement faculty development programs. Topics include educational techniques, leadership skills, hot topics like programmatic assessment, and more basic skills like writing. The chancellor provides a generous budget, and our sessions receive good ratings from faculty who attend. A 90 minute lunch-&-learn typically brings in 50 attendees, while the all-day institutes often draw larger crowds.

So I am off to ponder being a better faculty  member for a few days. Boston is usually fun, although nippy, and I know I will learn stuff. Stay tuned for updates.

Here is a question for any academic readers who wander by: What is the most important thing your institution needs to help you learn to succeed in all aspects of your job? Leave a comment and I will find programs that address the issue.

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