Increasing clinical demands can adversely impact academic advancement, including the ability to deliver lectures and disseminate scholarly work. The virtual lecture platform became mainstream during the height of the coronavirus-19 pandemic. Lessons learned from this period may offer insight into supporting academic productivity among physicians who must balance multiple demands, including high clinical workloads and family care responsibilities. We evaluated perceptions on delivering virtual lectures to determine whether virtual venues merit continuation beyond the pandemic’s initial phase and whether these perceptions differ by gender and rank.
In a survey study, faculty who spoke in 1 of 3 virtual lecture programs in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Otolaryngology, and Radiology at a university hospital in 2020 to 2022 were queried about their experience. Speakers’ motivations to lecture virtually and the perceived advantages and disadvantages of virtual and in-person lectures were analyzed using descriptive statistics and qualitative analyses.
Seventy-two of 95 (76%) faculty members responded (40% women, 38% men, and 22% gender undisclosed). Virtual lectures supported the speakers “a lot” to “extremely” with the following goals: enhancing one’s reputation and credibility (76%), networking (70%), receiving feedback (63%), and advancing prospects for promotion (59%). Virtual programs also increased the speakers’ sense of accomplishment (70%) and professional optimism (61%) by at least “a lot,” including instructors and assistant professors who previously had difficulty obtaining invitations to speak outside their institution. Many respondents had declined prior invitations to speak in-person due to clinical workload (66%) and family care responsibilities (58%). Previous opportunities to lecture in-person were also refused due to finances (39%), teaching (26%), and research (19%) requirements, personal medical conditions or disabilities (9%), and religious obligations (5%). Promotion was a stronger motivating factor to lecture virtually for instructors and assistant professors than for associate and full professors. By contrast, disseminating work and ideas was a stronger motivator for associate and full professors. Associate and full professors also reported greater improvement in work-related well-being than earlier career faculty from the virtual lecture experience. Very few differences were found by gender.
Virtual lecture programs support faculty who might not otherwise have the opportunity to lecture in-person due to multiple constraints. To increase the dissemination of scholarly work and expand opportunities to all faculty, virtual lectures should continue even as in-person venues are reestablished.