In 2020, the University of Kentucky joined 22 other academic institutions and organizations as inaugural members of The National Center for Pre-Faculty Development, working together to focus on pre-faculty development as a means to diversifying academia. The center was established to continue the work of Building the Next Generation of Academic Physicians (BNGAP) by providing trainees and faculty with foundational self-efficacy, knowledge, skills, and experience to be successfully promoted in an academic institution.

Stephanie White, MD, MS, senior associate dean for medical student education and acting associate dean for diversity and inclusion, has spearheaded local and national efforts over the past three years to support the academic medicine pathway.

With this goal in mind, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) collaborated with the Office of Faculty Affairs to develop the Academic Writing Workshop Series.

Constructed as an eight-part professional development initiative, the series is tailored for trainees and early-career faculty interested in academic writing, particularly relating to academic medicine and medical education research. Its intent is to promote skills related to conducting and publishing educational research while providing a platform for faculty and trainees with similar interests to network and collaborate.

“We envisioned this series as a community where we’re teaching learners and early-career faculty about the possibilities in medical education research, which is imperative to advancing medical training but also health care as a whole,” said Lillian Sims, PhD, a lecturer of behavioral science who helped facilitate the series.

Charla Hamilton, ODEI program manager, has served as our college liaison to the National Center for Pre-Faculty Development for the past year. To bring this program to fruition at UK, she connected with faculty presenters and developed a schedule for the series. The first workshops were held from February to early April. Topics included publishing, diversity and inclusion-related educational research, designing educational interventions, working with library resources and media materials, and building a research network.

Kidus Shiferawe, MPH, a rising second-year medical student, said he used to think of publishing as intimidating, especially academic publishing, but the writing series showed him that it can be achieved with the right plan, mentorship, and partnerships. Meanwhile, rising second-year Sydney Short said that as the first person in her family to attend medical school, the series made a new concept easier to understand through simplified explanations and engaging workshops.

“As someone who is now involved in a research project in medical education, I will utilize what I learned during this workshop for this project as well as future research opportunities,” Short said. “I am grateful that the UK College of Medicine provided this opportunity for students like me who are new to academic medicine but are very interested in the field.”

Raven Piercey, PhD, assistant professor of behavioral science, shared this sentiment. She attended a majority of the sessions and said she enjoyed being in the room with students, faculty, and staff who are all interested and invested in medical education research and academic writing.

“I was able to make connections with people who are doing innovative projects, encouraging me to think more creatively about my own work,” Dr. Piercey said. “I think series like these are important to increase access and create pathways into academic medicine, especially for students who may be unfamiliar with the field.”

Kristen Fletcher, MD, an academic hospitalist at the College of Medicine, also saw the benefit for residents who are interested in medical education scholarship. The series provided important frameworks and next steps for advancing their projects.

“I believe UK is a leader in medical education innovation, and it’s powerful to see the dissemination of that work is an evolving culture here,” Dr. Fletcher said.

Dr. Sims said the series is intended to provide participants up-front exposure to some of the terminology and hidden curricula surrounding academic research and writing they might not otherwise pick up on for years into their careers.

She had a front row seat to the extensive entrance process of a very competitive profession when her husband, a mechanical engineer, decided to make a career switch and become a doctor. After her husband earned his medical degree, Dr. Sims wanted to help others obtain early exposure to the skills needed for success on that same path.

“We hope that this series helps us start turning the wheel for people to know who to go to and how to get started in academic careers with research or with teaching,” Dr. Sims said.

UK College of Medicine faculty and trainees can view recordings of Spring 2023 sessions by clicking here. (This link requires a UK login.)