Supporting the academic mission in an era of constrained resources: approaches at the University of Arizona College of Medicine

Acad Med. 2008 Sep;83(9):837-44. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318181d2b2.


The authors describe initiatives at the University of Arizona College of Medicine to markedly expand faculty, build research along programmatic lines, and promote a new, highly integrated medical school curriculum. Accomplishing these goals in this era of declining resources is challenging. The authors describe their approaches and outcomes to date, derived from a solid theoretical framework in the management literature, to (1) support research faculty recruitment, emphasizing return on investment, by using net present value to guide formulation of recruitment packages, (2) stimulate efficiency and growth through incentive plans, by using utility theory to optimize incentive plan design, (3) distribute resources to support programmatic growth, by allocating research space and recruitment dollars to maximize joint hires between units with shared interests, and (4) distribute resources from central administration to encourage medical student teaching, by aligning state dollars to support a new integrated organ-system based-curriculum. Detailed measurement is followed by application of management principles, including mathematical modeling, to make projections based on the data collected. Although each of the initiatives was developed separately, they are linked functionally and financially, and they are predicated on explicitly identifying opportunity costs for all major decisions, to achieve efficiencies while supporting growth. The overall intent is to align institutional goals in education, research, and clinical care with incentives for unit heads and individual faculty to achieve those goals, and to create a clear line of sight between expectations and rewards. Implementation is occurring in a hypothesis-driven fashion, permitting testing and refinement of the strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / economics*
  • Academic Medical Centers / organization & administration*
  • Arizona
  • Curriculum
  • Humans
  • Organizational Innovation / economics
  • Organizational Objectives / economics
  • Personnel Selection / economics*
  • Research Support as Topic / economics*