Background: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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).
Conclusion: 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.