Purpose: To conduct a national multidisciplinary investigation assessing core clinical clerkships and their directors, variances in resources from national guidelines, and the impact of the clerkship director role on faculty members' academic productivity, advancement, and satisfaction. Method: A multidisciplinary working group of the Alliance for Clinical Education (ACE), representing all seven core clinical disciplines, created and distributed a survey to clerkship directors at 125 U.S. MD-granting medical schools, in academic year 2006-2007. Results: A total of 544 clerkship directors from Internal Medicine (96), Family Medicine (91), Psychiatry, (91), Pediatrics (79), Surgery (71), Neurology (60), and Obstetrics-Gynecology (56) responded, representing over 60% of U.S. core clinical clerkships. The clerkship directors were similar across disciplines in demographics and academic productivity, though clinical and clerkship activities varied. Departmental staff support for clerkships averaged 0.69 people, distinctly less than the ACE's 2003 guideline of a full-time coordinator in all disciplines' clerkships. Clerkship directors reported heavy clinical responsibilities, which, as in previous studies, were negatively related to academic productivity. However, many clerkship directors felt the role enhanced their academic advancement; a large majority felt it significantly enhanced their career satisfaction. Conclusions: The resources and rewards of the clerkship director role were similar across disciplines. Expectations of clerkship directors were considerable, including responsibility for clinical material and the learning environment. Resources for many fall short of those stated in the ACE guidelines, particularly regarding support staff. However, the findings indicate that the clerkship director role can have benefits for academic advancement and strongly enhances career satisfaction.
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