Programs that focus on the professional faculty development at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) are described in detail below and appropriate web links provided.
Faculty Development Plans & Programs
All four UTMB schools – Medicine, Nursing, Allied Health Sciences, and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences – have a faculty development program. The Office of Educational Development (OED) provides both a systematic program of professional development for educators from the School of Medicine, although all OED programs are also open to faculty from the other UTMB schools on a space-available basis. The professional development sessions are staffed by Ph.D.-level educators and are often offered in collaboration with other skilled medical school faculty (1). The UTMB School of Nursing has a Faculty Development Plan as part of its Handbook of Operating Procedures (2). A school-wide faculty development program utilizing mentors and coaches is being initiated by the School of Allied Health Sciences as part of its Strategic Plan: Vision 2010 (3).
Presidential Faculty Leaves
The purpose of the Presidential Faculty Leaves program is to further the academic careers of faculty members and enhance their abilities to contribute to the diverse missions of the university. Recipients are chosen from faculty of the four schools after a competitive application process. Faculty who are selected receive support for their salary and benefits for a six month, on or off-campus faculty development leave. To be eligible, a faculty member must be full-time, tenure-track with rank of associate professor or above, must have six years cumulative service as a member of the UTMB faculty, and must not have received a Presidential Faculty Development Leave in the preceding six years. Faculty receiving this award must still comply with all departmental and school policies (4).
The UTMB Osler Club
The UTMB Osler Club has developed an Academy of Olser Scholars that meets monthly on the campus to promote the Faculty Development Ideals of Dr. William Osler (5). The Scholars are a group of practicing faculty physicians who are selected for their devotion to the art of compassionate care and for excelling as role models for students and other physicians. A philanthropic Houston physician, Dr. John P. McGovern, donated five million dollars to establish an endowment to provide funding to support this important faculty development program. Several practicing physicians on the School of Medicine faculty were selected to be outstanding role models because of their previous competent, humane, and comprehensive care and who had served as outstanding teachers. Each of the Osler Scholars holds this honor for five years.
Scholars in Education Program
The Scholars in Education Program, founded in 1995, is a 20-month survey course in medical education designed at preparing educational leaders and forming a community of educators in the School of Medicine. Scholars commit to attend monthly three-hour evening sessions and to complete a mentored scholarly project in curriculum development and evaluation or in educational research. The monthly sessions provide overviews of the following areas: principles of teaching and learning, curriculum development, instructional methods, instructional technology, educational leadership, educational evaluation, learner assessment, and educational research methods. The Scholars Program culminates in a scholarly symposium during which scholars formally present their educational research or curriculum development projects. Approximately 12-15 scholars complete the program every two years. Graduates of the six scholars cohorts since the program’s inception presently serve the School of Medicine as members of the dean’s educational staff, as course, clerkship, and residency program directors, as chairs of education-related committees in departments, the school and UTMB, as members of the medical school’s Curriculum Committee, and in leadership positions in regional and national medical education organizations (6).
Workshops for Facilitators of Small-Group Learning
The School of Medicine’s Integrated Medical Curriculum (IMC) relies on effective small-group learning. OED-sponsored workshops for facilitators have been offered on a regular basis since the IMC’s 1998 launch. A series of three workshops provides focused professional development for faculty serving as facilitators of small-group learning. These workshops are offered at intervals throughout the academic year. Each interactive workshop is four hours in length. OED coordinates with course directors and coordinators to enroll faculty new to the facilitator role (7). One of these, the Introduction to Problem-Based Learning workshop introduces new facilitators to their role in facilitating a problem-based learning (PBL) group by providing an overview of expectations of IMC small-group facilitators and hands-on experience with a PBL case. The Beginning Facilitation Skills workshop expands on the Introduction to PBL Workshop, focusing on applying and practicing key facilitation skills. Although this course is specifically designed for new IMC facilitators, it is also useful to any educator wishing to enhance their small-group facilitation skills within or outside of the PBL format. The Advanced Facilitator Workshop is designed for faculty members with at least four months of group facilitation experience. Participants discuss successes and challenges and practice skills to help them overcome common challenges.
Teaching Skills Series
The Teaching Skills Series consists of one-hour workshops focusing on a skill related to teaching and learning. The workshops are open to anyone in the university wishing to learn or enhance teaching skills; sessions participants tend to be diverse, representing not only medical school faculty but also educators from across the campus. OED’s goal for the Teaching Skills Series is to build a community of faculty and staff on campus who develop, improve and integrate creative and effective use of appropriate pedagogy and technologies to enhance student learning (8). Offered monthly since the summer of 2006, the Teaching Skills Series presents a new topic each month, once at noon and again at 4:30. Sessions have included topics as diverse as learning styles, techniques for interactive lectures and distance education, editing movies for use in education, and building a test blueprint. OED maintains an open call for skilled presenters on appropriate topics. Presenters to date have included School of Medicine and School of Allied Health faculty as well as OED educators.
Academy of Master Teachers
A campus-wide Academy of Master Teachers has recently been established at UTMB and its first induction ceremony was held in May 2007. The academy is a dynamic honorary service organization in which UTMB’s best educators will be recognized for their skillful contributions and will contribute back to the greater UTMB educational community to further improve the quality of educational programs. The purposes are to 1) establish standards that define excellence in teaching, 2) help develop faculty educational skills, 3) critique faculty performance, 4) be advocates at AMT decisions, and 5) fund innovative educational projects. Membership and rank in the Academy is by a selection committee based on applications received from individual faculty members (9). "Members" serve two-year terms, "Scholars" serve five-year terms, and "Fellows" serve indefinitely (10).
Intramural Research Grant Programs
UTMB offers several opportunities for intramural funding of research for all UTMB faculties. These programs are specifically aimed at supporting the professional development of faculty as successful researchers and providing seed money to develop competitive extramural grant applications. Examples of intramural research funding available to all UTMB faculty include:
John Sealy Memorial Endowment Fund for Biomedical Research, which provides $50,000 for one-year bridging grants. The Bridging Grants are available for faculty whose applications to federal agencies were not funded. The original applications must have received a priority score or ranked in the top 50% for the agency. Applications for both clinical and basic research are encouraged (11).
Research Support Services
The Sealy Center for Cancer Cell Biology, whose Institutional Research Grant Seed Money is available to all UTMB faculties. The primary purpose of this Program is to provide start-up money to support junior faculty interested in problems related to cancer (12).
Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health offers a seed grant of $20,000 to support basic, clinical or translational research relevant to women’s health with preference given to junior faculty and investigators entering women's health research as a new field (13).
The UTMB office of Research Services, in addition to institutional pre- and post-award support, offers a variety of services aimed at promoting the success of UTMB faculty in applying and obtaining extramural research funding. The core of these services to research faculty is represented by the Funding Library (14). As part of the Office of Research Education, the Funding Library provides help in identifying funding sources and other information useful in the grant development process and distributes this information to the UTMB community through workshops, listserv alerts, and the weekly Yellow Sheet among other means. A Smarts Alert service is also available that allows researchers to receive directly to their e-mailbox a list of current funding opportunities tailored to key words that have been previously input by the individual faculty. The Funding Library also offers on-line video courses on grantsmanship, research record management, informed consensus issue, and other relevant topics as well as a Grants-for-Lunch program whereby experts present seminars to faculty on various topics on grantsmanship.
Educational Research Committee
The Educational Research Committee, sponsored and supported by OED, is a committee of School of Medicine faculty charged with supporting high-quality educational research by medical school faculty members (15). In addition to the review and feedback services provided to faculty proposing educational research projects, the committee sponsors monthly open sessions designed to support educational researchers. “Works in Progress” sessions have been the most popular format; these sessions allow a person designing an educational research or evaluation project to present the project overview and request input from the session participants on challenging aspects of the design. This set of professional development services is provided by coordinating the efforts of medical school faculty who are active educational researchers.