Advancing the science of health professions education through a shared understanding of terminology: a content analysis of terms for “faculty”

Anique Atherley
Dujeepa D. Samarasekera
Eric Holmboe
Hiroshi Nishigori
Jennifer J. Cleland
Lambert Schuwirth
Lauren A. Maggio
Pim W. Teunissen
Steven J. Durning
Susan van Schalkwyk
Wendy C. Y. Hu
Soort article
Original Research
Content analysis,
Faculty terminology,
Literature study,
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Introduction Health professions educators risk misunderstandings where terms and concepts are not clearly defined, hampering the field’s progress. This risk is especially pronounced with ambiguity in describing roles. This study explores the variety of terms used by researchers and educators to describe “faculty”, with the aim to facilitate definitional clarity, and create a shared terminology and approach to describing this term.

Methods The authors analyzed journal article abstracts to identify the specific words and phrases used to describe individuals or groups of people referred to as faculty. To identify abstracts, PubMed articles indexed with the Medical Subject Heading “faculty” published between 2007 and 2017 were retrieved. Authors iteratively extracted data and used content analysis to identify patterns and themes.

Results A total of 5,436 citations were retrieved, of which 3,354 were deemed eligible. Based on a sample of 594 abstracts (17.7%), we found 279 unique terms. The most commonly used terms accounted for approximately one-third of the sample and included faculty or faculty member/s (n = 252; 26.4%); teacher/s (n = 59; 6.2%) and medical educator/s (n = 26; 2.7%) were also well represented. Content analysis highlighted that the different descriptors authors used referred to four role types: healthcare (e.g., doctor, physician), education (e.g., educator, teacher), academia (e.g., professor), and/or relationship to the learner (e.g., mentor).

Discussion Faculty are described using a wide variety of terms, which can be linked to four role descriptions.


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