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New HMS Academy Will Support Teaching
Seeking to restore the core value of teaching as "the heart and soul of academic medicine," HMS is building a novel program to foster and reward the efforts of the School's most effective and innovative teachers.
The Academy at Harvard Medical School began its work last month with the recruitment of a dozen founding members, a healthy funding commitment from the School and the University, and a vision of a revitalized medical education mission that includes "a community of scholars with demonstrated abilities, commitment, and leadership in medical education." The Academy will aid these teachers through salary support, advocacy for promotion, and a forum for discourse.
The Disappearing Med StudentThe discipline-based departmental structure of modern medical schools has served extremely well in advancing research, patient care, and even postgraduate education, but has steadily pushed to the periphery the mission of educating medical studentsthe schools' historical raison d'être, said HMS dean for medical education Daniel Lowenstein. This marginalizing of teaching is traceable to the first half of the 20th century with the ascendancy of American research universities, the creation of the National Institutes of Health, which largely funded the work of their medical faculties, and the shift to Medicare and other third-party health care payers. And it has accelerated in recent decades with the constraints on physicians' time imposed by managed care. The bottom line is that research and clinical care generate income for the school or its affiliated institutions; teaching typically does not and is often viewed as a drain on faculty time.
This situation has long troubled medical educators, but past efforts to overcome the problem have not gone far enough, said Lowenstein.
"The idea of the Academy was to come up with a structural solution to a structural problem," he said. "And the Academy is just that. It's a program without walls that has a presence throughout the school and its affiliated institutions" and allocates resources independently of the departments.
"The members are meant to be among our most gifted, talented, and passionate teachers," Lowenstein said.
The Academy will provide salary support through two mechanisms: endowed chairs for teaching that provide 20 percent to 30 percent of a typical salary and are assigned for renewable five-year terms, and teaching stipends of $10,000 to $30,000 per year for one to three years. Grants will also be available to start new programs.
Teacher AdvocateThe Academy will be an important advocate for promotion of all HMS faculty based on teaching contributions. In the past, any such advocacy "has been rooted in the departments, which may not have the broadest perspective on faculty members' teaching contributions," Lowenstein said. "The Academy, by definition, will have that umbrella perspective."
Finally, by bringing together a critical mass of teaching faculty100 to 200 membersthe Academy is expected to be a crucible for new educational ideas that will benefit all teaching faculty. "Ideally, every department and division and component of the School would have one or more Academy members, and these members will be important catalysts for the support of teaching efforts throughout HMS," Lowenstein said. He emphasized that financing the new initiative is not a "zero-sum game" that will take money away from other programs, but rather is "premised on the ability to bring in new funds to support our teaching mission." Both HMS and University endowment funds have been tapped.
Founding members include H. Thomas Aretz, David Cardozo, Daniel Federman, David Golan, Daniel Goodenough, Charles McCabe, Orah Platt, Jo Shapiro, Dana Stearns, George Thibault, Steven Weinberger, and Marshall Wolf. An executive committee is working to develop application materials and detailed criteria for membership, and a search for a director will begin soon. The Academy office on the third floor of Gordon Hall is scheduled to open in September.
The HMS Academy has formed a partnershipthe UCSFHarvard Academy Collaborativewith the Academy of Medical Educators at the University of California, San Francisco, a program that Lowenstein helped to create before coming to HMS last year.