#KeyLIMEpodcast 119: #Hellomynameis… Definitions in #Meded

This week the Key Literature in Medical Education podcast is a live recording from the International Conference on Medical Education. We welcome a guest host, Eric Warm, an amazing Clinician Educator who is ahead of the curve on programmatic assessment, quality improvement and many other areas in medical education.

While the methods leave a lot to be desired, the paper is a starting point to help you to articulate what a Clinician Educator is.

**Warning** Conflict-of-interest**

A companion paper that you might want to read on defining a Clinician Educator can be found here. I find this graphic from the paper particularly helpful.

Fig 4.png
From Sherbino, Frank and Snell. Academic Medicine, 2014 89 (5): 783-789


Before you commit to digging into the topic, check out the abstract below, and then check out the podcast here.

– Jonathan


KeyLIME Session 119 – Article under review:

Listen to the podcast

View/download the abstract here.

New KeyLIME Podcast Episode Image

Varpio L, Gruppen L, Hu W, O’Brien B, Ten Cate O, Humphrey-Murto S, Irby DM, van der Vleuten C, Hamstra SJ, Durning SJ. Working Definitions of the Roles and an Organizational Structure in Health Professions Education Scholarship: Initiating an International Conversation. Academic Medicine. 2016 Aug 30. [Epub ahead of print]

Reviewer: Jonathan Sherbino


One of the consistently frustrating phenomena in health professions education is the inconsistent application of a lexicon.  I know.  You’ve heard this rant from me before.  But give me my 5 minutes on a soapbox.  (As a complete aside, and I’m unsure why I have this chip missing in my brain, I have a strong dislike of the adjective “educational.”  I much prefer the attributive [adjectival] use of the noun “education”, as in education scholarship, NOT educational scholarship.  So, I’m really happy to see this form in the title!  Ok, sorry for that. Back to the paper.)

Imprecise definitions relevant to health professions education (HPE) scholarship, result in decreased profile, support, and promotion for scholars.  This paper attempts to achieve an ‘international’ (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Netherlands) consensus of three distinct archetypal roles in HPE.


“The authors define and offer illustrative examples of three professional roles in HPES (clinician educator, HPES research scientist, and HPES administrative leader) and an organizational structure that can support HPES participation (HPES unit).”

Type of Paper

Consensus paper informed by interviews.

Key Points on Methods

The international author group does not provide any detailed insight into the methods that inform their work.  While it is not informed by an organizing theory, nor does it use a systematic approach to gather qualitative data to answer their research question, it is informed by a series of interviews with directors of medical education research and innovation units in Canada and HPES leaders in Australia and New Zealand.  The definitions were refined in an iterative fashion by the authors based on the interviews.

The work is not informed by existing literature on roles and definitions in HPE.

Key Outcomes

There is overlap (think Venn diagram) among all of the roles.

“A clinician educator:

  1. Is trained as a clinician in a health profession, AND
  2. Engages (or has previously engaged) in clinical activities, AND
  3. Actively engages in health professions educational activities, AND
  4. Consistently engages in and disseminates health-professions related educational scholarship.”

“An HPES research scientist:

  1. Holds a graduate-level degree (usually at the PhD level, but occasionally at the master’s level) in an academic discipline (e.g., education, psychology, anatomy, or engineering), AND
  2. Is formally required to engage in health-professions-related educational scholarship”

“An HPES administrative leader focuses primarily on educational leadership activities, such as being the academic lead of a substantial component of a health professions education training program (e.g., deans, assistant deans, department chairs). HPES administrative leaders can come from any discipline or professional background, and they are expected to promote or lead clinician educators and/or HPES research scientists to pursue the scholarship of learning and teaching related to HPES. HPES administrative leaders must also engage in and disseminate education-related scholarship.”

“An [HPE scholarship unit] is an organizational structure within which a group of people, often those working in the roles described above, is substantively engaged in HPES.

  1. The unit must stand as a recognizable, coherent, organizational identity within the institution,” AND 2. The unit must be identified as engaging in health professions education- related scholarship. This scholarship may be conducted at the undergraduate, graduate, and/ or continuing education levels. The unit may also house programs that focus on teaching, service provision, professional development program delivery, etc., but these other activities alone are not sufficient for being identified as an HPESU without the scholarship contributions.”

Key Conclusions

The authors conclude…

“With these working definitions, scholars and administrative leaders can examine HPES roles and organizational structures across and between national contexts to decide how lessons learned in other contexts can be applied to their local contexts.”

Spare Keys – other take home points for clinician educator

A great example of education scientists and clinician educators collaborating on a shared goal to promote HPE.

Shout out

Thanks to Linda Snell, who couldn’t join us for this podcast, but graciously allowed me to steal her paper 🙂

Access KeyLIME podcast archives here