Providing faculty development to a large, dispersed, and diverse population of community-based faculty is challenging. Medical schools may consider recruiting and retaining community-based faculty by employing innovative faculty development delivery methods. A recent email survey amongst members of the Community Faculty Consortium revealed that a number of regional campuses across North America similar to WRC and NRC are beginning to develop new programs tailored to the needs of community faculty members. However, very few institutions have an established program designated for this purpose.
In the Waterloo and Niagara Regions, there are approximately 1000 faculty members affiliated with McMaster University. The vast majority of them are part time, clinical faculty members who are invested in educational activities voluntarily. These faculty members may not prioritize academic promotion so the usual university-based incentives may not be as effective.
Nonetheless, these faculty members pull the heavy weight of UG and PG education at the campuses. Small group sessions are locally moderated. Aside from some large group lectures, all of the core clerkship curriculum and a large number of core residency curriculum are delivered locally. While contributing greatly to the academic mission for McMaster in the regions, faculty members presently have unmet needs for faculty development.
Although the Program for Faculty Development at FHS does offer a great variety of faculty development resources, regional faculty members have not taken full advantage of them. At the regional campuses, the faculty development team has not been consistently successful in engaging faculty members. When asked, faculty members invariably cite issues like time constraints and distance to Hamilton or to the regional campus as insurmountable difficulties. However, based on informal surveys, there is a high level of expressed interest in acquiring skills to become better teachers.
We have an opportunity here to fulfill these unmet needs.