Objective The success of U.S. medical schools depends upon having strong faculty. But surveys indicate that faculty, residents and new medical school graduates are less enthusiastic about academic careers than ever before. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence and determinants of intent to leave academic medicine.
Methods A confidential, web-based survey was administered to full-time faculty at one medical school. There were 75 questions addressing quality of life, faculty rank and responsibilities, institutional support for teaching, clinical work and scholarship, mentoring, promotion opportunities and participation in governance.
Results Of 1,408 eligible faculty members, 532 (39%) participated. Participants and non-participants were similar with respect to most demographic variables. Among respondents, 236 (42%; 95% CL: 0.38, 0.46) were “seriously considering leaving academic medicine.” Women were more likely to consider leaving; members of inter-disciplinary centers were less likely. Faculty members who did not “really care about the future of the School of Medicine” were almost 13 times more likely to seriously consider leaving (OR= 12.8; 95%CL: 2.9, 56.2). The next strongest predictors of “serious intent to leave” were: Difficulty balancing career and family (OR=3.6; 95%CL: 2.3, 5.3); inability to comment on performance of institutional leaders (OR=3.1; 1.6, 2.3); ineffective faculty development programs (OR=3.0; 95%CL: 2.0, 4.6). and lack of recognition of clinical service (OR=2.7; 95%CL: 1.6, 4.5) and high quality teaching (OR=2.5; 95% CL: 1.6, 3.8) in the promotion process.
Conclusions Faculty are a medical school's key resource, but 40% are seriously considering leaving. Medical schools should refocus faculty retention efforts on faculty development programs, balancing career and family, tangible recognition of teaching and clinical service and meaningful faculty participation in institutional governance.
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