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Purpose: Medical education reform has been the clarion call of U.S. medical educators and policymakers for two decades. To foster change and seed reform, Harvard Medical School created a professional development program for physicians and scientists actively engaged in educating future physicians that sought to transform both participants and their schools. This study focused on identifying the long-term effects of a professional development program on physician educators.

Method: A follow-up survey of the 1995-97 cohorts of the Harvard Macy Program for Physician Educators was conducted by sending the 99 program participants a questionnaire two years after their participation. Main outcome measures studied were individual changes as reflected in participants' self-reported shifts in teaching behaviors, academic productivity, career advancement, and sense of commitment.

Results: A total of 63 participants completed the questionnaire, for a response rate of 63.6%. Two years following participation in the program, a majority (88.8%) of respondents reported that participation had significantly affected their professional development, including long-term changes in teaching behaviors (77.8%), engagement in new educational activities from committee work (86%) to grant funding (52.4%), and renewed vitality/identification of themselves as educators.

Conclusions: Long-term follow-up of participants enrolled in an intensive program for physician educators suggests that professional development programs that create an immersion experience designed in a high-challenge, high-support environment, emphasizing experiential and participatory activities can change behaviors in significant ways, and that these changes endure over time.

(C) 2003 Association of American Medical Colleges