Evolving roles of clerkship directors: have expectations changed?
Background: Physician educators directing medical student programs face increasingly more complex challenges to ensure students receive appropriate preparation to care for patients. The Alliance for Clinical Education (ACE) defined expectations of and for clerkship directors in 2003. Since then, much has changed in medical education and health care.
Methods: ACE conducted a panel discussion at the 2016 Association of American Medical Colleges Learn Serve Lead conference, soliciting input on these expectations and the changing roles of clerkship directors. Using workshops as a cross-sectional study design, participants reacted to roles and responsibilities of clerkship directors identified in the literature using an audience response system and completing worksheets.
Results: The participants represented different disciplines of medicine and ranged from clerkship directors to deans of curriculum. Essential clerkship director qualifications identified by participants included: enthusiasm, experience teaching, and clinical expertise. Essential tasks included grading and assessment and attention to accreditation standards. Participants felt clerkship directors need adequate resources, including budget oversight, full-time clerkship support, and dedicated time to be the clerkship director. To whom clerkship directors report was mixed. Clerkship directors look to their chair for career advice, and they also report to the dean to ensure educational standards are being met. Expectations to meet accreditation standards and provide exemplary educational experiences can be difficult to achieve if clerkship directors' time and resources are limited.
Conclusions: Participant responses indicated the need for a strong partnership between department chairs and the dean's office so that clerkship directors can fulfill their responsibilities. Our results indicate a need to ensure clerkship directors have the time and resources necessary to manage clinical medical student education in an increasingly complex health care environment. Further studies need to be conducted to obtain more precise data on the true amount of time they are given to do that role.