joseph's journey

Full-Time Clinical Educator

early career

Joseph Zhang is a 39-year-old clinician who is a full-time assistant professor within the clinician educator stream. He has been the assistant program director a number of years and has just been promoted to program director. He has just completed his package for associate professor, and is quite delighted that he will be promoted next July to that rank.

Q1. What does it take to go from assistant to associate professor in the Clinical Educator stream?

This link provides a description of what it takes to go from “special appointment” to the CAWAR (Clinical appointment without annual review)

McMaster’s Department of Surgery has created a great one-stop-shop for all the relevant documents too

Q2. What does a promotion package look like?

We suggest asking a local mentor (or two) within your stream to share with you their documents. However, here are some guidelines that have been developed that are resources to help you create your Teaching Dossier and Clinical Activities Portfolio

Q3. What are some tips for becoming a good Program Director?

Here are some resources we have aggregated about the skills needed as an academic leader, such as program director.

Q5. What does being an assistant program director look like?

See above skills.

Joseph has won several local teaching awards for his clinical teaching/supervision. His teaching effectiveness score (TES) average is usually between 5.9-6.2/7. He has been nominated for a national teaching award once, but was unsuccessful. He wonders if he needs to make his application for this better next time. He’s been told by his Department Education Coordinator (DEC), who is his departmental advisor for promotions, has suggested that this will be important for his next promotion to full professor. Although this is not a mandatory step in his career, he has received a fair bit of peer pressure from his colleagues that he should aspire to this step. His mentor and division director Amanda Lightfoot (a national award winning educator, who has been an editor on several textbooks in their discipline) has just completed this career milestone, and Joseph is worried he is not as accomplished as her. He has also been informed by his DEC that he should strongly consider becoming more involved in some level of undergraduate teaching (at the medical school, physician assistant program, or Bachelor's of Health Sciences program).

Q6. How can I best use my TES scores when I get them?

Q7. What are some local teaching awards that are available for people like me to win?

The President’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning -

Postgraduate Medical Education Awards - Look under the FACULTY & STAFF AWARDS IN EDUCATION section:

FHS Graduate Studies Awards - Look under the Faculty Awards Tab -

Canadian Association for Medical Education Certificate of Merit Awards (locally selected national award) - Submitted via the CAME representative at our University, but open to non-members:

Q8. What does it take to be promoted to full professor in the CE stream?

Q9. How do you manage imposter syndrome?

Women’s CHAT - You Belong Here - Combatting Imposter Syndrome

Q10. What are undergraduate educational opportunities that can be undertaken?

About his life outside of clinical and administrative work, he is single at this time, and is devoting a fair bit of time right now to changing that. Now that he is done residency, fellowship, and has survived he is devoted to spend some time on developing other parts of his life. That said, his recent promotion to program director has certainly put a new wrench into this project. He has reached out to his predecessor and former program director, Carl Donaghue, for advice but has not yet received any answer and this is concerning since there are multiple issues that he would like to discuss with Carl - his work/life balance issues aside.

Q11. As an educational leader, what can I do to achieve better work/life balance?

Per his residents, Dr. Donaghue has been increasingly stern and dismissive of them in the past few months since the end of his term as program director. The chief resident has highlighted that this behaviour likely preceded the end of his term, but no one had spoken up previously for fear of retribution. The division’s faculty development lead is happy to begin working on some faculty-faculty coaching to help, but Joseph wonders if Carl will show up to these local events.

Q13. How can we support faculty members who seem at risk for burnout?

And resources from HBR:

Q14. What are some programs that are available to faculty-at-risk?

For physician colleagues experiencing difficulties there are some key resources provided by:

For MUFA & Clinical faculty

Q15. What if I’m not a “faculty-at-risk” but I still would like to improve my teaching and supervision?

We have dozens of resources about inspired teaching on our website:

Also check out our MacPFD Spark Podcast ( and our Video Archive (