How Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Approaches Faculty Activity Reporting

Are you using a faculty activity reporting solution? There are many challenges that universities face in trying to capture their faculty activity information and any good faculty activity reporting solution will recognize these and accommodate a process to resolve them. Every school and university has unique needs, and good faculty activity reporting software should be flexible enough to ensure that the data entry process can be fine-tuned to fit each of entities. During a recent interview, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine shared some insight into the medical school landscape, how faculty function as doctors and teachers, how they capture information and so much more. 


Born from a unique public-private partnership in 2007, Carilion Clinic leveraged Virginia Tech’s world-class strength in biomedical research and their own comprehensive system of primary and specialty physicians to become the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM).  VTCSOM improves human health and quality of life by providing leadership in medical education and biomedical and clinical research. Utilizing both an innovative patient-centered curriculum and a comprehensive research curriculum, VTCSOM addresses the increasing need for research-competent physicians who can translate research from the bench to the bedside and into the community.

Focus and Challenges

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is a unique entity in many regards: it is defining the public-private relationship possible between two such institutions; at 42 students per class, it is the third smallest medical school (based on enrollment) in the nation¹, allowing for valuable faculty-student instruction time. VTCSOM graduated its first class in 2014 with a 100% match rate and the 2015 and 2016 classes followed suit maintaining this ratio.

Although VTCSOM is distinctive in institutional structure, the same foundational actions necessary for faculty activity reporting are a focus: teaching, research and service. And just like any medical school, VTCSOM faces its own set of unique challenges compared to schools of other disciplines when it comes to capturing faculty accomplishments.

According to Liza Jane Blackwell, Faculty Affairs Coordinator & Digital Measures Administrator at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, “there are over 900 providers in the Carilion Health System and almost 800 of them have faculty appointments. While roughly 450 of those 800 faculty actively teach, the same requirements extend to all regular faculty (omitting instructional appointments). Our accrediting bodies, LCME and SACS, require all providers who interact with our students to maintain a faculty appointment. With block rotations and off-site clerkship opportunities, you can imagine how difficult it can be to capture faculty activity, much less oversee compliance for accreditation requirements.” Key issues needed to be considered including:

  • Faculty dossiers range from 20 to 200 pages depending on their tenure, service and research.
  • Most faculty have large clinical practices in addition to teaching and research. Faculty serve in a dual role of being a full-time healthcare provider as well as a teacher. And most of these individuals are off-site from campus and in the clinical setting.

“Dr. Daniel Harrington, VTCSOM Vice Dean and Carilion Clinic’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, depends on Activity Insight to capture all faculty scholarly activities so that he can put together a comprehensive account of what Carilion is doing academically in his monthly, quarterly and annual reporting,” Liza Jane further explained.

With complex challenges and a unique faculty landscape, VTCSOM turned to Activity Insight to capture their teaching, research and service activities.

VTCSOM’s Innovative Approach to Documenting Patient-Centered Curriculum

With the patient as the central focus, the unique curriculum at VTCSOM is based both inside and outside the classroom. VTCSOM stresses the importance of research, quality and safety, evidence-based medicine, interprofessional teamwork, chronic disease management, wellness and prevention as well as public health. With this focus, faculty are logging teaching hours that capture learning experiences in inpatient settings, outpatient settings, bedside care and more.

“Rotations vary significantly based on student interest and so does what counts as a teaching hour. How do you measure productivity without a metric for this? A student and faculty member may be side-by-side for a week, but what does the faculty member log to make this tangible?” says Liza Jane. “How do you count hours? How do you set a baseline? If faculty are teaching three students for one hour, does that count as one hour of teaching or three?” she added.

To accurately capture these teaching activities, VTCSOM has found that user identification of such activities is paramount for overall instrument satisfaction and compliance. With modifications to various data entry screens, for example, “Graduate Medical Education Teaching Activities,” VTCSOM faculty can log actual activity types, including grand rounds, inpatient and outpatient attending, case conferences and more to ensure that significant teaching activities are not missed.

How Carilion Uses Scheduled Teaching

With faculty who are also dedicated to treating patients, there are numerous activities that VTCSOM looks to capture and leverage. For years one and two of the program, curriculum is focused on core biomedical sciences, as well as research and service learning projects under the supervision of their mentors. Moving into years three and four, the focus shifts to application in clinical settings via clerkship rotations.

The first step that VTCSOM took was to customize the “Scheduled Teaching” data entry screen to match their course catalog formatting. “This included revisions to accommodate for blocks, session types, additional screens for graduate medical education and other teaching activities that take place outside VTCSOM and more to accurately capture teaching activities by faculty members,” noted Liza Jane. By fine tuning the data entry screens, faculty at VTCSOM are better able to capture the data that is relevant to their day-to-day activities. Once these modifications were completed, Liza Jane was able to connect with Texas Tech University School of Medicine to collaborate on further customizations.

Their Unique Focus on Research

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has created a research program that is longitudinal and integrated throughout the four years of study. With a faculty activity reporting solution, VTCSOM is able to accurately capture their research contributions and paint a picture of how their research impacts the patient community.

With a faculty activity reporting solution customized to fit their unique needs for managing annual reviews, VTCSOM has more objectives they’d like to leverage this software to accomplish. In the future, they hope to utilize information already stored within the system to populate the Carilion Clinic’s patient-geared “Find A Doctor” website component to showcase the latest research and service contributions by faculty providers. They also hope to create a sense of compliance and trust with each clinical department by being able to build and run specialized reports for clinical use. There are many more exciting things ahead for the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Does your university leverage a faculty activity reporting solution to capture, aggregate and report on faculty activities for your School of Medicine? Tell us how!

¹(AAMC, 2014-2015 Total Graduates by U.S. Medical School and Sex, 2010-2011 through 2014-2015)

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