A profile of the activities and responsibilities of vice chairs for education is notably absent from the medical education literature. The authors sought to determine the demographics, roles and responsibilities, and major priorities and challenges faced by vice chairs for education.
In 2010, the authors sent a confidential, Web-based survey to all 82 identified department of medicine vice chairs for education in the United States and Canada. The authors inquired about demographics, roles, expectations of and for their position, opinions on the responsibilities outlined for their position, metrics used to evaluate their success, top priorities, and job descriptions. Analysis included creating descriptive statistics and categorizing the qualitative comments.
Fifty-nine vice chairs for education (72%) responded. At the time of appointment, only 6 (10%) were given a job description, and only 17 (28%) had a defined job description and metrics used to evaluate their success. Only 20 (33%) had any formal budget management training, and 23 (38%) controlled an education budget. Five themes emerged regarding the responsibilities and goals of the vice chair for education: oversee educational programs; possess educational expertise; promote educational scholarship; serve in leadership activities; and, disturbingly, respondents found expectations to be vague and ill defined.
Vice chairs for education are departmental leaders. The authors' findings and recommendations can serve as a beginning for defining educational directions and resources, building consensus, and designing an appropriate educational infrastructure for departments of medicine.