Why are a quarter of faculty considering leaving academic medicine? A study of their perceptions of institutional culture and intentions to leave at 26 representative U.S. medical schools

Acad Med. 2012 Jul;87(7):859-69. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182582b18.


Purpose: Vital, productive faculty are critical to academic medicine, yet studies indicate high dissatisfaction and attrition. The authors sought to identify key personal and cultural factors associated with intentions to leave one's institution and/or academic medicine.

Method: From 2007 through early 2009, the authors surveyed a stratified random sample of 4,578 full-time faculty from 26 representative U.S. medical schools. The survey asked about advancement, engagement, relationships, diversity and equity, leadership, institutional values and practices, and work-life integration. A two-level, multinomial logit model was used to predict leaving intentions.

Results: A total of 2,381 faculty responded (52%); 1,994 provided complete data for analysis. Of these, 1,062 (53%) were female and 475 (24%) were underrepresented minorities in medicine. Faculty valued their work, but 273 (14%) had seriously considered leaving their own institution during the prior year and 421 (21%) had considered leaving academic medicine altogether because of dissatisfaction; an additional 109 (5%) cited personal/family issues and 49 (2%) retirement as reasons to leave. Negative perceptions of the culture-unrelatedness, feeling moral distress at work, and lack of engagement-were associated with leaving for dissatisfaction. Other significant predictors were perceptions of values incongruence, low institutional support, and low self-efficacy. Institutional characteristics and personal variables (e.g., gender) were not predictive.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that academic medicine does not support relatedness and a moral culture for many faculty. If these issues are not addressed, academic health centers may find themselves with dissatisfied faculty looking to go elsewhere.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Career Mobility
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Leadership
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Retirement
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Support
  • Social Values
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States