The changing faces of promotion and tenure at U.S. medical schools

Acad Med. 1991 May;66(5):249-56. doi: 10.1097/00001888-199105000-00002.


Faced with many potentially divisive questions related to tenure and promotion, leaders at medical schools have lacked an overview of examples of how other medical schools are adapting their faculty policies to reflect changing realities. This article reports results of a survey of U.S. medical school deans and of interviews with faculty affairs administrators regarding areas of change in faculty appointment, promotion, and tenure policies. Examples of adaptations are reported under the following headings: use of tenure; financial guarantees of tenure; criteria for award of tenure; probationary period; post-tenure review; advising faculty; clinician-educator tracks; and recruting women and minority faculty. Of these, the adaptation entailing the most activity and about which the most information was obtained concerns establishing a clinician-educator track. Numerous examples are provided of schools' evolutions of policies with regard to modifying titles of clinical-educators, defining promotion criteria, monitoring transfer between tracks, and defining contract periods, benefits, and privileges. The primary challenge for medical school administrators is to build sufficient flexibility into their promotion policies to show that the institution values the many different types of faculty needed, and at the same time to provide adequate security to essential faculty.

MeSH terms

  • Career Mobility*
  • Clinical Medicine / education
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups
  • Public Policy*
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration*
  • United States
  • Women