Faculty Development: Models for Health-Professional Schools
The Need for Faculty Development in Pre-service Training Institutions
Whether in well-resourced or resource-limited settings, faculty are at the heart of quality teaching. Capable faculty prepare students to deliver high-quality care and treatment services and can inspire and nurture students toward mastery and personal growth. I-TECH’s faculty-development activities contribute to its overall mission to build a skilled health care workforce and well-organized national health care systems by strengthening educational institutions and faculty in the critical role of training their countries’ future health care workers.
Health-professional schools in resource-limited settings often face numerous constraints. They may be underfunded; lack resources for salaries, infrastructure, media, and equipment; or have outdated, non-standardized curricula. Faculty are often under-trained in educational techniques and/or not up to date on current care and treatment guidelines and protocols. In many settings where I-TECH works, faculty face challenges such as:
- Limited training and/or experience in curriculum design, lesson planning, and/or student performance evaluation.
- Limited training in the skills necessary for excellence in teaching beyond an advanced degree or specialization in a clinical content area.
- Conflicting time demands in balancing teaching and other faculty responsibilities with clinical practice.
- Non-existent, out-of-date, or very general curricula/ syllabi.
- Lack of up-to-date teaching materials, textbooks, references, or other resources.
- Lack of experience in defining basic knowledge and/or competencies required by students.
- Poor remuneration and a lack of opportunities for advancement.
- Limited access to computers, projectors, electricity, and other material resources that support a classroom environment that is conducive to teaching and learning.
- High student-to-faculty ratios.
In this context, strengthening the capacity of faculty to be better educators is crucial to helping them succeed as facilitators of effective and efficient learning, to meet accreditation requirements, to ensure ongoing quality improvement of educational programs, and, most importantly, for ensuring that students are adequately prepared to address contemporary health and patient-care issues.
This is a set of competencies for faculty that I-TECH believes are necessary for a health care worker–training institution to deliver educational programs that prepare health care workers to provide quality prevention, care, and treatment services.
|I-TECH Core Competencies for Health-Professional School Faculty|
Core competency 1: Designs courses
Core competency 2: Facilitates learning
Core competency 3: Uses assessment and evaluation strategies
Core competency 4: Maintains professional expertise
A comprehensive approach to faculty development typically involves multiple activities—from faculty involvement in the revision of a school’s curriculum for its health-professional students, to skills-building workshops in teaching methods, to strengthening the design and delivery of clinical teaching. Institutional change in pre-service curricula and the role of faculty cannot occur without broad involvement and buy-in from key stakeholders. Advocacy and coordinated planning with partners, relevant ministries, and health-professional training institutions is, therefore, critical to I-TECH’s faculty-development work.
I-TECH is doing faculty development in:
Future Directions for I-TECH’s Faculty-Development Assistance
As I-TECH’s work in pre-service grows, it is continuing to refine and expand its approach to faculty development. New areas of focus include:
- Academic twinning as a sustained approach to faculty development—building long-term relation- ships between faculty at “twinned” institutions in the United States and resource-limited settings.
- Strengthening faculty members’ clinical teach- ing skills—applying I-TECH’s experience in clinical mentoring to the pre-service context and including clinical preceptors in faculty-development activities.
- Expanding the scope of I-TECH’s efforts beyond faculty in clinical training programs—reaching out to allied health professions, including laboratory science and public health, and addressing faculty- development issues unique to these cadres (e.g., developing skills in research methods with a focus on publication, and supporting student theses for public health faculty).
The table below presents a summary of future faculty-development activities that will be undertaken in the I-TECH network. Note that pre-service initiatives are often multiyear, as they involve revision of multiyear curricula; therefore, corresponding faculty-development activities can span several years as well.
Future Faculty-Development Activities, by Competency
Competency 1: Designs curriculum
Competency 2: Facilitates learning
Competency 3: Uses assessment and evaluation strategies
Pre-service education is vital to ensuring an adequate and well-trained health care workforce. Skilled, confident, and effective pre-service faculty provide the foundation for developing and sustaining skilled health care workers in decades to come.