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Megan Palmer, PhD, speaks about her role at FAPDD

Diversity 83

This fall, Megan Palmer, PhD, stepped into the newly created role as the senior associate dean for IU School of Medicine Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity (FAPDD). Prior to this role, Palmer served as the associate dean for FAPDD and has been an integral part in the success of this unit as a leader in faculty development.

When did you become interested in faculty development? How did you come to work at IU School of Medicine and FAPDD?

As I was completing my doctoral work in Bloomington, I became really interested in faculty development. I pursued this area after graduation and went to work at the IUPUI Center for Teaching and Learning and eventually became the interim director.

During this time, FAPDD was just getting off the ground with Dr. Bogdewic having just been named as the executive associate dean. Since I was the interim director of the teaching center, he recruited me to assist in writing a strategic plan for faculty development. After collaborating together, he asked me to dedicate 20% of my effort to IU School of Medicine while still being interim director at the Center for Teaching and Learning for two years.

I left the Center for Teaching and Learning and began working at IU School of Medicine in 2008 and was initially the director of faculty development in the health professions and shortly thereafter became an assistant dean of IU School of Medicine. Everything grew from there.

Megan PalmerFrom your perspective, why is FAPDD so critical to the mission of the school? Can you also speak to the different divisions of FAPDD, how the office functions, and who the office supports?

When we were first working on our strategic plan, we created the tagline: “Every faculty member a success story” and so, to me, that is the answer to the question. It is our job, alongside the school’s department leadership, to ensure that all faculty can be successful and achieve what they want to achieve.

There are four divisions to FAPDD: faculty affairs, professional development, diversity and wellness. The faculty affairs function begins with searching for and hiring faculty to the retiring process and beyond. Faculty affairs focuses on all parts and pieces of a faculty member’s career, whether that is going up for promotion and tenure, receiving awards for outstanding teaching, research, and service, or providing free career development consultations.

Professional development focuses mostly on faculty and partners at IU Health, but some opportunities are available for learners. Programming focuses on supporting faculty success. Some of these programs include scientific writing, communicating science to audience, teaching development, time management and personal finance. We also offer consultation services such as career development, peer review of teaching and promotion and tenure opportunities that are meant to extend support and services to faculty.

Our Diversity Affairs team works with the entire school and are focused on representational diversity, which means increasing the number of people in our institution who are from underrepresented backgrounds in medicine. Further, that team focuses on increasing cultural competence and creating an inclusive environment.

Jennifer Hartwell, MD, named inaugural associate dean and chief wellness officer in June 2019, is heading up FAPDD’s new initiatives related to wellness.

How will your new role impact FAPDD and what is your leadership philosophy?

Prior to this role, my focus was pretty much exclusively on faculty development. In this new senior associate dean role, I have more engagement with each FAPDD division. That aspect has changed the most for me. This position ensures that someone is looking across all divisions of FAPDD and finding the connections and creating a space for each division to learn from one another.

I want to empower people to do the work they oversee. This allows people to feel free to make suggestions about how we can improve and be better. We hire great people and we trust them to do their job. They know they have support and I want them to charge on and do great work.

What are your goals/visions for this new role?

My goal continues to be to help faculty become successful. I also want to be sensitive to how we can make IU School of Medicine better than it already is. Not just better in outcomes but better in inclusive environment, a place where people are well—and not burnt out—and more representative of our patient population than we are right now. I know our unit is helping the school move forward in these areas. Overall, my vision echoes that of FAPDD: “To develop a vibrant, diverse community where each faculty member has the optimal capability to make meaningful contributions to their career goals and the institution’s mission.”

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Madison Pershing

Madison Pershing is a Marketing and Communications Assistant for Indiana University School of Medicine’s Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity.