Professional Development Programs

A variety of professional development programs and recognitions are offered to investigators in all career stages at Penn State College of Medicine.

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Professional Development Opportunities

Events and Workshops Expand answer

A variety of professional development events and workshops are offered at Penn State Health/Penn State College of Medicine.

Upcoming events are listed here; click any event for details or to add it to your Outlook calendar.

Continuing Medical Education Expand answer

A variety of accredited continuing education programs for medical professionals are offered.

See Continuing Education website for full list of upcoming programs

Educator Development (Woodward Center) Expand answer

The Woodward Center is designed to assist learners and educators in the development and use of effective learning and teaching methods.

A variety of educator development opportunities are offered through the Woodward Center, including EdVenture, the annual celebration of education at Penn State College of Medicine.

The center serves as a collaborative partner with learners, faculty and staff to develop the tools needed to support successful learning in a variety of learning environments.

Learn more about the Woodward Center’s educator development opportunities

Grants Academy Expand answer

The annual Grants Academy program is for postdocs and faculty who plan to submit a grant application.

Grants Academy is a structured, non-credit workshop intended to assist participants with preparation and submission of an independent investigator-initiated grant application.

Applications include submissions to the NIH (such as R01, R21, K01, K08, K23), the American Cancer Society, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association (among others). Participants will be asked to commit to submit a grant application, with support of their chair, in the summer/fall of each year.

Program directors are:

  • Dr. Sarah Bronson, Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Research, Director of Research Development, Co-Director of the Junior Faculty Development Program and Associate Professor of Cellular & Molecular Physiology
  • Dr. Kent Vrana, Elliot S. Vesell Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology, former Chair of the NIH Molecular NeuroPharmacology and Signaling (MNPS) Study Section
  • Dr. Sheila Vrana, Associate Dean for Research, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Director of the Office of Research Affairs
Health Systems Science Academy Expand answer

The Health Systems Science Academy (HSSA) was launched in September 2016 and is designed to develop teachers and role models in Health Systems Science within each department who will guide the new learning and practice models that are evolving for increasingly complex population-focused health care systems.

Health Systems Science includes core concepts related to health care delivery, clinical informatics, public and population health, value-based care, health system improvement, and healthcare policy. This Academy is specifically designed to develop a core group of Health Systems Science scholars, broadly representative across our departments, who will educate and guide learners from undergraduate medical students, graduate medical trainees, and faculty in learning, practicing, and teaching the core principles of Health Systems Science.

The program runs from September through May, and applications are accepted beginning in February for the coming academic year.

Learn more about HSSA

Interprofessional Education Expand answer

The Office of Interprofessional Collaborative Education and Teamwork (ICE-T) at Penn State College of Medicine offers a variety of programs to support faculty and staff facilitators involved in interprofessional education.

Explore interprofessional education resources

Junior Faculty Development Program Expand answer

The Junior Faculty Development Program (JFDP) provides a foundation for the success of junior faculty at Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Since the program was introduced in 2003, it has served as an important steppingstone for faculty interested in taking their academic careers to the next level. We welcome applicants with diverse backgrounds and interests who share a passion for inquiry, improvement and collaboration.

The program runs from September to May each year and consists of two components:

  • A comprehensive curriculum delivered through a series of weekly lessons
  • An individual project completed under the guidance of a senior faculty mentor (assigned by the JFDP leadership)

The goals of the Junior Faculty Development Program are to:

  • Promote the development and advancement of faculty of Penn State College of Medicine through a program targeted to and tailored to the specific needs of junior faculty.
  • Nurture and cultivate junior faculty to become the next generation of academic leaders.
  • Support the retention of native faculty talent through opportunities and support to continuously build and expand professional skills.

Learn more about JFDP and apply here

K Grant Workshop Series Expand answer

For early career faculty who need a period of mentored research and training in order to transition to research independence, the College of Medicine offers the K Grant Workshop Series.

Mentored career development awards, or K awards, provide salary support and research funding to early stage investigators who need to undertake a sustained period (three to five years) of intensive, supervised career development experiences in order to transition to research independence.

The four-week K Grant Workshop Series is offered each spring and provides participants the tools needed to craft a competitive mentored career development proposal. Key topics covered throughout the seminar series include:

  • Types of mentored awards
  • Determining when you are ready to apply for a mentored award
  • Overview of the proposal development process
  • Key ingredients to a competitive research plan
  • Selecting the right mentoring team
  • Integrating the career development plan and research strategy
  • Research resources critical to proposal development and submission
  • What to expect from the review and resubmission process

Several senior faculty members co-direct the workshop series, which combines didactic training with group discussion. Each session focuses on a specific theme that builds upon the previous week’s session. Participants who attend all four sessions learn to develop a rigorous, well-defined mentored career development proposal.

Information on the next series of workshops is listed below if available.

Leadership Academy Expand answer

Penn State Leadership Academy is an interdisciplinary leadership development program for academic health center and regional health systems professionals.

Developed in partnership with the Penn State Smeal College of Business and Penn State Executive Programs, the Leadership Academy of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine provides attendees (physicians, scientists, advanced practice clinicians, nurses and administrators) with the skills required to excel in strategic leadership and management roles in academic health centers and associated health care systems.

Classes run a full week in September at Penn State’s University Park campus.

Participants are expected to “leave pagers at the door” and remain free of other responsibilities so that full attention can be devoted to coursework and the educational experience.

Learn more about Leadership Academy and apply here

New Faculty Onboarding and Orientation Expand answer

Penn State College of Medicine offers an Onboarding Mentor Program to ensure that newly hired faculty members recognize the requirements for a successful academic career at our institution and the resources available to achieve that goal. A checklist is provided as a tool to help the onboarding mentor and the faculty member identify these resources.

Complete the onboarding checklist

See more new faculty orientation resources

Events for New Faculty

Upcoming events of interest to new and/or junior faculty are listed here.

Promotion and Tenure Workshops Expand answer

The Office of Faculty Affairs holds regular workshops on promotion and tenure topics, including the popular “Demystifying Promotion and Tenure,” which brings together a group of recently promoted associate and full professor faculty from multiple departments to provide advice and aid faculty beginning or considering the promotion process.

See upcoming promotion and tenure workshops

Sabbatical Leave Expand answer

There are times in the careers of established faculty when an individual needs the opportunity to refresh his or her career goals, to gain new experiences, learn new approaches, or embark on new ventures.

Sabbatical leave is a privilege that may be granted to an individual who has demonstrated by publication, teaching, or performance an above-average ability in scholarship, research, or other creative accomplishment.

Penn State University’s sabbatical leave information is found here. Also, the College of Medicine and Milton S. Hershey Medical Center provide sabbatical opportunities for career renewal.

Contact the Office of Faculty and Professional Development about Sabbatical Leave

Simulation Instruction Courses Expand answer

Five-day Simulation Instruction Courses are conducted through the Penn State College of Medicine Simulation Center.

The highly interactive certificate course features a multi-disciplinary faculty who teach how to combine simulation with traditional methodologies, apply assessment tools, and choose among various simulation modalities for specific applications.

The course provides a practical framework in learning theory, group dynamics, and psychology of the learner, focusing on debriefing skills. Each participant assumes the role of student, instructor, and assessor in various simulation activities throughout the week.

Learn more and register for the Teaching With Simulation Course

Wellness Expand answer

The image for wellness activities at Penn State College of Medicine consists of an inner circle with the text Wellness, and surrounding that is another ring broken into four parts, labeled social, spiritual, physical and emotional. Each section is a different color and includes the word in white text and a representative icon.The Office of Faculty and Professional Development held its first Well-Being Week program in October 2017.

That event and others are part of Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health’s efforts to lead discussions and provide opportunities to begin addressing the crisis of burnout and employee and faculty well-being and wellness.

See wellness resources and upcoming events

University Opportunities Expand answer

In additional to internal training and development programs, a variety of professional development programs are available through the larger Penn State system.

External Opportunities Expand answer

In additional to internal training and development programs, a variety of professional development programs are available externally.


The American Association of Medical Colleges offers a variety of resources and trainings, including many focused on female faculty.

For details or if interested in applying to an AAMC program, contact the Office of Faculty and Professional Development.


Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine is a year-long Drexel University program that provides a part-time fellowship for female faculty in schools of medicine, dentistry and public health.

For details or if interested in applying to an ELAM program, contact the Office of Faculty and Professional Development.

Harvard Macy

Harvard Macy Institute is designed to foster transformative learning experiences that prepare the Harvard Macy scholars to lead institutional change as well as discover and harness new perspectives which may contribute to their professional growth.

For details or if interested in applying to a Harvard Macy program, learn more via the Woodward Center.

Research Opportunities

Howard Hughes Medical Institute offers several resources for research faculty and staff, including training for lab managers.

Science Careers is a career-development resource for scientists sponsored by the journal Science.

For information on researcher development opportunities, contact the Research Concierge Service.

Awards and Recognitions

Distinguished Educator Award and the Society of Distinguished Educators Expand answer

The Distinguished Educator Award recognizes exemplary educators among the faculty of Penn State College of Medicine. Award recipients become members of the Society of Distinguished Educators.

To be eligible for a Distinguished Educator Award, faculty members must have held an appointment at Penn State College of Medicine or Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for a minimum of three years and hold the rank of at least associate professor or equivalent.

In addition to demonstrated excellence as a teacher, nominees will have made exceptional contributions in medical (which could include undergraduate or graduate) education and/or graduate student (which could include postdoctoral) education in one or more of the following ways:

  • Research in education (e.g., publications or grants)
  • Innovations in teaching methods or curriculum (e.g., new ways to teach subject matter)
  • Development of new assessment methods
  • Mentoring and development of faculty
  • Leadership in education (e.g., course director, program director, involvement at national level)

Distinguished Educator awardees receive:

  • The Distinguished Educator title
  • Membership in the Society of Distinguished Educators
  • A medallion signifying the wearer as a Distinguished Educator
  • Recognition on the Distinguished Educator plaque
  • A $1,500 financial award to be used at the discretion of the Distinguished Educator
  • Free rental of academic regalia for Commencement

See all Distinguished Educators

Innovation Awards Expand answer

The Office of the Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies and the Center for Medical Innovation annually present Innovation Awards open to those from Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Awards presented are:

  • Innovator of the Year
  • Investigator to Watch
  • Student Award for Excellence in Innovation

Learn more about the Innovation Awards

Interprofessional Education Incentive Awards Expand answer

Interprofessional Education Incentive Awards support Penn State faculty and staff in launching new interprofessional education/practice activities of relevance to learners at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine.

To be considered interprofessional, an activity must include learners from two or more professions with the ultimate goal of improving patient care. The term “learners” can include learners/professionals in disciplines such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work, chaplaincy and more.

This award is sponsored by the College of Medicine, therefore the proposed project should include College of Medicine students in some fashion.

The proposed interprofessional initiative should address one of more of the following:

  • Improving teamwork
  • Improving communication
  • Recognizing shared values and ethics
  • Understanding different roles and responsibilities across disciplines

Learn more about the Interprofessional Education Incentive Awards

Mark J. Young International Health Policy Scholarship Expand answer

The Mark J. Young International Health Policy Scholarship award was established in memory of Mark Young, MD, the first chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine. 

Dr. Young was a champion for education and his community, both next door and around the world. Following this legacy, this scholarship provides support for faculty, fellows, residents, or medical students at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine to undertake study programs outside the United States.

The scholarship may be used for study in two broad categories:

  • Attendance at international conferences, short courses, or workshops focused on international health care or international health policy.
  • Participation in innovative, ongoing international health care or health policy projects.

The recipient is required to make a presentation about the experience to the campus community within three months of return.

Email Public Health Sciences for details

Research Recognition Awards Expand answer

Started in 2014, the Faculty Research Recognition Awards, presented each spring, honor the outstanding research achievements of Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center investigators.

The event highlights investigators who have distinguished themselves in several areas:

  • Outstanding Research Publication
  • Outstanding Early-Stage Investigator
  • Outstanding Collaborative Research Team
  • Outstanding Education Researcher
  • Outstanding Community-Engaged Researcher
  • Outstanding Champion of Diversity in Research
  • Outstanding Research Staff Member
  • Career Citation Milestone
  • Career Research Excellence

Learn more about the Research Recognition Awards