The Impact of a Medical Education Research Faculty Development Program on Career Development, Through the Lens of Social Cognitive Career Theory

Author Department

Emergency Medicine; Healthcare Quality

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Objectives: The Medical Education Research Certificate at the Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine (MERC at CORD), a specialized adaptation of the Association of American Medical Colleges MERC program, provides faculty development in education research in emergency medicine. However, its long-term influence on career development remains unknown. Our study explored the impact of MERC at CORD on career development through the lens of social cognitive career (SCC) theory.

Methods: This was a prospective qualitative study using a constructivist/interpretivist paradigm to assess long-term career development outcomes. A purposeful randomized stratified sampling strategy of MERC at CORD graduates (2011-2014) ensured diversity of representation (sex, region, number of research publications, and project group leadership). Subjects were invited by e-mail to participate in semistructured phone interviews. Thematic analysis by two independent reviewers followed an iterative process until saturation was reached.

Results: Twelve graduates were interviewed. All engaged with MERC at CORD early in their careers with minimal previous education research experience. Currently, all hold medical education leadership positions. Graduates had a mean of 19.3 publications (range = 9-43). Themes explaining reasons for participating in MERC at CORD include: desire for education research skills, recommendation of mentors/colleagues, and accessibility. Themes citing the program's value to career development include networking/collaboration, mentorship, informational framework to build upon, and the application of theoretical knowledge through experiential learning. MERC at CORD impacted career development aligning with the core domains of SCC theory including self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and goals.

Conclusion: MERC at CORD enhanced the long-term career development of participants by providing a core knowledge framework in a mentored, experiential learning environment. Participants identified themes aligned with SCC theory as influential in their long-term career advancement in medical education including the development of education research skills, successful completion of education research, career acceleration, promotion, niche development, and formulation of professional goals.