Purpose: To collect data on institutional policies regarding tenure, promotions, and benefits for part-time faculty at U.S. medical schools and determine the extent to which part-time work is a feasible or attractive option for academic physicians.
Method: In July 1996, the authors sent a 29-item questionnaire regarding tenure, promotions, and benefit policies for part-time faculty to respondents identified by the deans' offices of medical schools in the United States and Puerto Rico. Responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics and chi-square analyses.
Results: Respondents from 104 of 126 medical schools (83%) completed the questionnaire; 58 responded that their schools had written policies about tenure, promotion, or benefits for part-time faculty. Tenure. Of the 95 medical schools with tenure systems, 25 allowed part-time faculty to get tenure and 76 allowed for extending the time to tenure. Allowable reasons to slow the tenure clock included medical leave (65), maternity leave (65), paternity leave (54), other leave of absence (59). Only 23 allowed part-time status as a reason to slow the tenure clock. Policies written by the dean's office and from schools in the midwest or west were more favorable to part-time faculty's being allowed to get tenure. Promotions. The majority of respondents reported that it was possible for part-time faculty to serve as clinical assistant, assistant, associate, and full professors. Benefits. The majority of schools offered retirement benefits and health, dental, disability, and life insurance to part-time faculty, although in many cases part-time faculty had to buy additional coverage to match that of full-time faculty.
Conclusions: Most medical schools do not have policies that foster tenure for part-time faculty, although many allow for promotion and offer a variety of benefits to part-time faculty.