Medical education encompasses many activities (e.g., teaching, supervision, mentorship, and administration). Little research has explored what the term "medical education" means to trainees or assessed the importance postgraduate medical trainees place on education as part of their career plans.
We conducted a survey of fellows in all subspecialty training programs at a three-site academic institution. We asked multiple choice and Likert scale questions to characterize fellows’ perception of, interest and training in medical education.
One hundred sixty-nine of 530 (31.9%) fellows responded. Fellows were training in subspecialties of internal medicine (49.7%) and surgery (13.0%), among others. Most fellows planned careers in academic medicine (38.5% clinician-educator, 22.5% clinician-investigator, 17.2% academic clinician). Fellows reported that their conception of medical education involved supervising trainees in a clinical capacity (93.5%), teaching in the classroom (89.3%), and providing mentorship for trainees (87.6%). Respondents identified “being an educator” as extremely (43.8%) or moderately (43.2%) important for their future careers. Only 30.2% had received formal training in medical education, but 61.5% felt that formal training should be required for those pursuing careers with strong educational components.
Most subspecialty fellows surveyed planned careers in academics and felt that medical education was important to their professional future. While less than a third received formal training in education, almost two thirds felt that such training should be required for a career as an educator. This study provides evidence for the creation and promotion of educational training programs for trainees interested in careers involving medical education.