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AAL Newsletter

2015 Compass Program for Academic Advancement Recap

by Felicia Tucker-Lively, Ph.D., M.P.H., AAL Director of Professional Development

Felicia Tucker-Lively - compressed

Academic advancement is a journey filled with choices. Whatever choice is made, there are other potential choices left unselected. For some faculty, making steps toward advancement may be hindered by the variety of choices. This fall, 108 individuals acknowledged that being an expert educator is not enough to guarantee a successful career in academia and chose to explore how to enhance their faculty roles. These individuals enrolled in the Compass Program for Academic Advancement to discuss practical approaches to conducting research, seeking publication, and grant writing; gain insights into academic processes; and identify strategies for overcoming obstacles.

The Compass program presented a variety of skills faculty need for career advancement in many institutions. In a weekly distance learning format, the four modules were educational research, conducted by Dr. Marcia M. Ditmyer, Vice President for the Academy for Academic Leadership; grant writing, facilitated by Dr. Harvey L Bumpers, Professor of Surgery and Director of Breast Surgery in the Department of Surgery at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine; writing for publications, also presented by Dr. Ditmyer; and career planning, conducted by Dr. Gayle A. Brazeau, Dean and Professor of the College of Pharmacy at the University of New England.

The instructors made their topics relatable and facilitated the engagement of the participants. Some of the overarching themes of modules were set goals; manage expectations and deadlines; explore and use resources; and don’t give up. The program was designed to bridge many of the topics presented in AAL’s teaching and learning programs with the topics in AAL’s academic leadership programs.

As an interprofessional development opportunity for health professions educators, Compass participants interacted with colleagues from pharmacy, allied health, physical therapy, dentistry, public health, nursing and other programs to gain experience and insights. As stated by Dr. Ida Chung, an Assistant Dean of Learning from Western University of Health Sciences, College of Optometry, “This program provides excellent resources for educational research and publication, especially for the new faculty member. Mentors should know about this resource when working with their mentees.” Dr. Ibrahim Zakhary, an Associate Professor from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry commented, “The course was really constructive and helpful in changing my outlook on many aspects of my career. I learned a lot about writing for publication, useful hints in grant writing, and also for planning my career with in regard to my school mission and goals. Overall, I recommend this course for academicians and researchers.”

In addition, Dr. Karen A. Mlodozeniec, a Clinical Assistant Professor from D’Youville College School of Pharmacy remarked, “This is a great program that provides useful and usable information to new members of academia regarding scholarly activity and career planning.”

Additional final comments by participants described how they used the time between the sessions to reflect on the readings, assignments, and insights shared during the live interactive sessions. For many, the assignments provided an opportunity to in the written exercises. Overall, the assignments were viewed as pertinent and helped to formulate and articulate ideas as well as stimulate discussion in the live sessions and forum discussions. Also, the convenience and flexibility of watching the recordings of the interactive sessions was viewed as an effective feature of the program.


The 2016 Compass dates are:

Course Orientation: September 1, 2016, from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern
Course Modules: September 8, 15, 22, & 29, 2016, from 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Eastern

For additional program details visit http://www.aalgroup.org/COMPASS_home.cfm


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Dr. Tandra Atkins

NYU Lutheran Medical Center

"The AAL team has enhanced my knowledge and decision making tools, objective analysis, and creativity in a radically changing health care environment."