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      Medical school faculty discontent: prevalence and predictors of intent to leave academic careers

      1 , 2 , 3 , , 3 , 2
      BMC Medical Education
      BioMed Central

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          Medical school faculty are less enthusiastic about their academic careers than ever before. In this study, we measured the prevalence and determinants of intent to leave academic medicine.


          A 75-question survey was administered to faculty at a School of Medicine. Questions addressed quality of life, faculty responsibilities, support for teaching, clinical work and scholarship, mentoring and participation in governance.


          Of 1,408 eligible faculty members, 532 (38%) participated. Among respondents, 224 (40%; CI95: 0.35, 0.44) reported that their careers were not progressing satisfactorily; 236 (42%; CI95: 0.38, 0.46) were "seriously considering leaving academic medicine in the next five years." Members of clinical departments (OR = 1.71; CI95: 1.01, 2.91) were more likely to consider leaving; members of inter-disciplinary centers were less likely (OR = 0.68; CI95: 0.47, 0.98). The predictors of "serious intent to leave" included: Difficulties balancing work and family (OR = 3.52; CI95: 2.34, 5.30); inability to comment on performance of institutional leaders (OR = 3.08; CI95: 2.07, 4.72); absence of faculty development programs (OR = 3.03; CI95: 2.00, 4.60); lack of recognition of clinical work (OR = 2.73; CI95: 1.60, 4.68) and teaching (OR = 2.47; CI95: 1.59, 3.83) in promotion evaluations; absence of "academic community" (OR = 2.67; CI95: 1.86, 3.83); and failure of chairs to evaluate academic progress regularly (OR = 2.60; CI95: 1.80, 3.74).


          Faculty are a medical school's key resource, but 42 percent are seriously considering leaving. Medical schools should refocus faculty retention efforts on professional development programs, regular performance feedback, balancing career and family, tangible recognition of teaching and clinical service and meaningful faculty participation in institutional governance.

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          Most cited references52

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          Racial and ethnic disparities in faculty promotion in academic medicine.

          Previous studies have suggested that minority medical school faculty are at a disadvantage in promotion opportunities compared with white faculty. To compare promotion rates of minority and white medical school faculty in the United States. Analysis of data from the Association of American Medical Colleges' Faculty Roster System, the official data system for tracking US medical school faculty. A total of 50,145 full-time US medical school faculty who became assistant professors or associate professors between 1980 and 1989. Faculty of historically black and Puerto Rican medical schools were excluded. Attainment of associate or full professorship among assistant professors and full professorship among associate professors by 1997, among white, Asian or Pacific Islander (API), underrepresented minority (URM; including black, Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Native American, and Native Alaskan), and other Hispanic faculty. By 1997, 46% of white assistant professors (13,479/28,953) had been promoted, whereas 37% of API (1123/2997; P<.001), 30% of URM (311/1053, P<.001), and 43% of other Hispanic assistant professors (256/598; P =.07) had been promoted. Similarly, by 1997, 50% of white associate professors (7234/14,559) had been promoted, whereas 44% of API (629/1419; P<.001), 36% of URM (101/280; P<.001), and 43% of other Hispanic (122/286; P =.02) associate professors had been promoted. Racial/ethnic disparities in promotion were evident among tenure and nontenure faculty and among faculty who received and did not receive National Institutes of Health research awards. After adjusting for cohort, sex, tenure status, degree, department, medical school type, and receipt of NIH awards, URM faculty remained less likely to be promoted compared with white faculty (relative risk [RR], 0.68 [99% confidence interval CI, 0.59-0.77] for assistant professors and 0.81 [99% CI, 0.65-0.99] for associate professors). API assistant professors also were less likely to be promoted (RR, 0.91 [99% CI, 0.84-0.98]), whereas API associate professors and other Hispanic assistant and associate professors were promoted at comparable rates. Our data indicate that minority faculty are promoted at lower rates compared with white faculty. JAMA. 2000;284:1085-1092
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            Women physicians in academic medicine: new insights from cohort studies.

            I conducted a study to determine whether women who graduate from medical schools are more or less likely than their male counterparts to pursue full-time careers in academic medicine and to advance to the senior ranks of medical school faculties. The rates of advancement to the ranks of assistant, associate, and full professor for all U.S. medical school graduates from 1979 through 1993 and for all members of U.S. medical school faculties from 1979 through 1997 were studied. Cohorts were defined on the basis of the year of graduation from medical school, track (tenure or nontenure), and academic department. Within each cohort, the number of women who advanced to a senior rank was compared with the number that would be expected on the basis of parity between men and women, and 95 percent confidence intervals were calculated. Women were significantly more likely than men to pursue an academic career. During the study period, 634 more women became faculty members than expected. The numbers were higher in the older cohorts than in the younger cohorts. The numbers of women who advanced to the ranks of associate and full professor were significantly lower than the expected numbers. This was true for both tenure and nontenure tracks, even after adjustment for the department. A total of 334 fewer women advanced to associate professor than expected, and 44 fewer women advanced to full professor than expected. Disparities persist in the advancement of men and women on medical school faculties. However, the numbers of women physicians at all levels of academic medicine are increasing.
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              Managed care, time pressure, and physician job satisfaction: results from the physician worklife study.

              To assess the association between HMO practice, time pressure, and physician job satisfaction. National random stratified sample of 5,704 primary care and specialty physicians in the United States. Surveys contained 150 items reflecting 10 facets (components) of satisfaction in addition to global satisfaction with current job, one's career and one's specialty. Linear regression-modeled satisfaction (on 1-5 scale) as a function of specialty, practice setting (solo, small group, large group, academic, or HMO), gender, ethnicity, full-time versus part-time status, and time pressure during office visits. "HMO physicians" (9% of total) were those in group or staff model HMOs with > 50% of patients capitated or in managed care. Of the 2,326 respondents, 735 (32%) were female, 607 (26%) were minority (adjusted response rate 52%). HMO physicians reported significantly higher satisfaction with autonomy and administrative issues when compared with other practice types (moderate to large effect sizes). However, physicians in many other practice settings averaged higher satisfaction than HMO physicians with resources and relationships with staff and community (small to moderate effect sizes). Small and large group practice and academic physicians had higher global job satisfaction scores than HMO physicians (P <.05), and private practice physicians had quarter to half the odds of HMO physicians of intending to leave their current practice within 2 years (P <.05). Time pressure detracted from satisfaction in 7 of 10 satisfaction facets (P <.05) and from job, career, and specialty satisfaction (P <.01). Time allotted for new patients in HMOs (31 min) was less than that allotted in solo (39 min) and academic practices (44 min), while 83% of family physicians in HMOs felt they needed more time than allotted for new patients versus 54% of family physicians in small group practices (P <.05 after Bonferroni's correction). HMO physicians are generally less satisfied with their jobs and more likely to intend to leave their practices than physicians in many other practice settings. Our data suggest that HMO physicians' satisfaction with staff, community, resources, and the duration of new patient visits should be assessed and optimized. Whether providing more time for patient encounters would improve job satisfaction in HMOs or other practice settings remains to be determined.

                Author and article information

                BMC Med Educ
                BMC Medical Education
                BioMed Central
                14 October 2007
                : 7
                : 37
                [1 ]Division of Emergency Medicine, Box B-215, University of Colorado School of Medicine, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA
                [2 ]Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA
                [3 ]Office of the Dean, University of Colorado School of Medicine, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA
                Copyright © 2007 Lowenstein et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 4 June 2007
                : 14 October 2007
                Research Article



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