Surviving vs. Thriving: The Challenges and Needs of Academic Medical Faculty
Kin C, Yang R, Albers A, Jiminez J, Facente SN, Girod S. Journal of Faculty Development. 2023;37(3):54 -61.
Worsening academic medical faculty attrition is a threat to medical education. This qualitative study aimed to identify facilitators and challenges of success for academic medical faculty. Medical faculty were recruited from 10 departments until thematic saturation was achieved with a sample size of 24, of which 2/3 were women and almost half were 50 – 59 years old. Facilitators of achieving success were related to how professional relationships and leadership shaped institutional culture. Mentorship, collegiality and sponsorship, and having a voice in shaping institutional policies were important for fostering engagement. Participants also noted academic medicine self-selected for specific characteristics including extreme motivation and a “self-starter” attitude. Participant’s GRIT-S score, a measure of drive and perseverance, was 3.96 for both genders on a scale of 0-5, indicating a high capacity for sustained focused effort toward long-term goals. Among women, the physical and emotional stressors associated with pregnancy and parenting were in constant tension with professional aspirations. Men and women both found professional success elusive due to unclear metrics for success and a feeling that institutional success was both a high bar and a moving target, lack of cooperation and mentorship, and competing clinical and academic priorities. As a reflection of lack of clarity on institutional metrics, only 22% of participants felt that their personal ideals of success aligned with the institution’s. Participants emphasized institutions must foster an environment in which faculty members are able to thrive and have the freedom to find their own paths to success.