Monday, September 21, 2009


The problem of finding time for teaching and having that time “honored” as valuable to the institution has been an ongoing concern for academic medical departments; but perhaps never more than now. Some departments have begun exploring adapting the familiar clinical metric, RVU’s or relative value units as a way to place comparable value on time taken by physicians in their roles as teachers and researchers.

In a 2007 article in J Am Coll Radiol (see link below) the authors state: "Despite the importance of teaching, research, and related activities to the mission of academic medical departments, no useful and widely agreed-on metrics exist with which to assess the value of individual faculty members’ contributions in these areas.

They go on to describe the use of RVUs as a common metric. In their model, all academic activity is quantified and weighted based on "estimates of effort, impact, and value to the department" (Mezrich,R & Nagy, PG. 2007). In the category of teaching, for example, classroom teaching and student feedback are factored into the equation, while clinical teaching is factored into clinical productivity. It is an article well worth reading if you are considering an RVU-based system. Their experience details the complexity of the process and the importance of linking departmental goals to the weighting system

In theory it sounds good, but how do you truly account for time spent preparing new interactive seminars, case-based teaching sessions, facilitating PBL or the development of innovations like online teaching modules. How do you account for time for providing feedback, writing evaluations and mentoring students and residents? Can we deconstruct teaching into RVUs… Should we? What do you think?

For ohiolink users

For citation and abstract


The concept of introducing or expanding online learning in medical education stimulated a good discussion. Some of our readers described their experience with online learning as boring, painful, and passive, while others described their experiences as interactive, satisfying and effective. How do you account for the disparity of experience and opinion? One reader suggested that the question was phrased too simply. Like most questions in medicine and medical education, the answer usually begins with "it depends". Our readers thought that "it depended" on the purpose of the instruction, the learning style and motivation of the students, the skill of the teacher and the ability of the technology used to create interaction. One reader thought that the generation of the student cohort might also influence the effectiveness of the instruction. Neil, on September 2 (see comments) really did a nice job of addressing the complexity of the question He concluded, as did others, that a blend of online and face-to-face methods may be the best approach. For more information see link below: