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Family Medicine Clerkship Faculty Development: a Longitudinal, Team Endeavour!

by Suzanne Minor, MD, Sarah Stumbar, MD, MPH, Marquita Samuels, MBA, Jacqueline Sroka

Faculty development is foundational for a successful family medicine clerkship. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education also requires that medical schools offer faculty development for community-based faculty who teach medical students.1 The simultaneous themes of time and teamwork are central to the delivery of an individualized, dynamic, and efficient faculty development curriculum and pivotal to overcoming faculty development challenges. 

Such concerns to delivering faculty development include preceptors’ productivity requirements, time stresses, and varied levels of experience in teaching. 2,3 In our distributed community clerkship model, geography is another challenge. 

Successful faculty development depends on building relationships over time through a team delivery model consisting of students, coordinator, clerkship director, and director of clinical faculty development. Each person brings her own perspective and skillset to the table, contributing to program development and implementation.  Additionally, each team member can enhance the roles of the other members and contribute to a dynamic, evolving, multi-factorial approach to delivering and monitoring a faculty development program.

Components of an effective faculty development curriculum include educating preceptors about the clerkship curriculum and performing individualized needs assessments through site and preceptor evaluations. Identified issues are proactively addressed through periodic in-person meetings and phone calls, regular communications via email or newsletter with community preceptors, and an accessible website.

Faculty development starts with the student. Within our clerkship, the student provides ad hoc faculty development for preceptors regarding entrustable professional activities, required clinical experiences, and other curricular expectations. The student is your “customer” who provides real-time feedback of your faculty. The student also communicates with the clerkship director to identify issues that need to be centrally addressed.

By building relationships, the coordinator contributes to the team. The coordinator assembles and distributes feedback to preceptors on their teaching and also performs site visits. When there are few narrative comments on the students’ midpoint or final assessments, the coordinator proactively asks the preceptor to provide specific examples of the student’s strengths and weaknesses so that high-quality feedback can be provided.

The clerkship director (CD) also builds relationships, provides one on one feedback to preceptors, performs site visits, and provides academic detailing. The CD creates regular newsletters and email updates and addresses site-specific issues identified by students in midpoint meetings and clerkship evaluations. The clerkship director may, along with support from the clerkship coordinator, administer teaching performance improvement projects for ABFM maintenance of certification requirements.

The clinical faculty development director (CFDD) oversees clinical faculty development for all clerkships. The development director also builds relationships with team members and clinical faculty. The CFDD performs needs assessments, creates teaching cards on relevant topics like feedback and assessment, writes articles for newsletters, revises and creates online teaching modules for CME credit4, and performs site visits for group and one on one faculty development sessions. 

Assessing faculty development requires reviewing data from students at midpoint feedback meetings and on clerkship reviews to identify examples of both positive and concerning comments regarding teaching.5 Reviewing this data then allows for the development of a focused, evolving, and relevant faculty development plan. We track all faculty development touches that occur between our team and faculty. We monitor how frequently our newsletter is read by looking at the “number of clicks/opens.”  We also monitor CME module use through quarterly reports.

Faculty development is an LCME requirement, but also provides the foundation for a high-quality clerkship experience for your students. How is this idea applicable to your clerkship? You can consider who your stakeholders are and how you might measure faculty development program outcomes. Successful faculty development can be achieved by cultivating relationships over time and using a team approach involving all stakeholders to advance the quality and content of teaching and assessment



  1. Liaison Committee on Medical Education. Functions and Structure of a Medical School: Standards for Accreditation of Medical Education Programs Leading to the M.D. Degree.Liaison Committee on Medical Education. 2019.
  2. Langlois JP, Thach SB. Bringing Faculty Development to Community-Based Preceptors. Acad Med 2003;78:150–155.
  3. Drowos J, Baker S, Harrison SL, Minor S, Chessman AW, Baker D. Faculty Development for Medical School Community-Based Faculty: A CERA Study Exploring Institutional Requirements and Challenges. Acad Med. 2017;92(8):1175-1180.
  4. Scott SM, et al. Contemporary Teaching Strategies of Exemplary Community Preceptors – Is Technology Helping? Fam Med 2014;46(10):776-782.
  5. Lie D, et al. Attributes of effective community preceptors for pre-clerkship medical students.  Med Teach 2009;31: 251–259.

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