Junior Faculty Development Program serves record class

The 2018 class of Penn State College of Medicine’s Junior Faculty Development Program was the largest ever, with 27 participants graduating on May 31. Sponsored by the Office of Faculty and Professional Development, the program guides junior faculty members to help them become the next generation of academic leaders.

Each participant completes an individual project under the guidance of a senior faculty mentor and participates in a curriculum that runs from September to May each year.

The Junior Faculty Development Program has grown and evolved since its introduction in 2003. One of its strengths — and challenges — is its diversity, according to Dr. Daniel Wolpaw, who co-directs the program with Sarah Bronson.  Dr. Barbara Ostrov rounds out the leadership team.

“This program is a powerful force in breaking down silos and building a culture of learning and professional development,” Wolpaw said. “It helps create a community of collaboration and friendship that extends beyond the program and the curriculum.”

Bronson and Wolpaw are quick to acknowledge that many faculty and staff members contribute to the program’s success.

“We’ve made a conscious effort to reach out to faculty members with different interests and expertise,” Bronson said. “They lead sessions, act as facilitators and give us feedback on the curriculum. And that’s something that gets richer every year.”

For participant Dr. Nicholas Duca, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, fostering communication was one of the most important benefits. Duca designed and executed a needs assessment to identify barriers and opportunities in teaching clinical reasoning. He worked closely with his assigned mentor, Nancy Adams, associate librarian in the Harrell Health Sciences Library.

“Nancy and I have similar interests in clinical reasoning, and she has access to so many resources and is so knowledgeable about those resources — about the software used in data analysis and so forth,” Duca said. “And she’s familiar with a lot of the different educational things that are happening here at Penn State.”

Participant Dr. Anita Ankola, assistant professor in the Department of Radiology, said she would recommend the Junior Faculty Development Program to all new faculty members.

“It’s just a fantastic curriculum,” she said. “It really presents a good pathway of how to be successful with an academic health system.”

Ankola launched a new radiology reporting system to identify and recommend follow-up imaging on findings that could represent kidney cancer. Her mentor, Dr. Catherine Abendroth, professor in the Department of Pathology, was instrumental in the project’s design and implementation.

“She helped me focus and organize my project with manageable goals and shared a lot of advice on how to get buy-in from a group to adopt a new workflow,” Ankola said.

Applications for the 2019-20 program open in January 2019.

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Last Updated June 14, 2018