The Present and Future of Appointment, Tenure, and Compensation Policies for Medical School Clinical Faculty

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The authors present data and information about appointment, tenure, and compensation policies to describe how medical schools are redefining the terms under which they relate to their full-time clinical faculties. First, the authors note the increasing differentiation of clinical faculty members into two groups, researchers and clinicians. The present-day competitive realities of both research and clinical enterprises have prompted this change and the principles of mission-based management are reinforcing it. Second, they document the long-term tendency of schools to appoint new clinical faculty members to contract-term (as opposed to tenure) appointments, as special non-tenure-eligible tracks for clinically oriented faculty proliferate. Third, they report on the policies of schools to limit the financial guarantees provided to clinical faculty members who are awarded tenure. For schools that have yet to address this issue, they discuss the various employment and pay arrangements that inform or confuse the question. Fourth, they describe historic problems with clinical faculty compensation arrangements and illustrate, with examples from ten schools, the characteristics of recently implemented performance- and risk-based compensation plans.While these trends in institutional policies and practices may initially concern faculty advocate groups, the authors argue that they may serve the long-term interests of those groups. The terms of relationships between medical schools and their clinical faculties are tied closely to the specifics of organizational structure, which are currently undergoing review and change. The challenge all schools face is to define these terms in ways that allow them to continue to attract high-quality clinical faculty while avoiding an insupportable financial liability.

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