The Academic RVU: Ten Years Developing a Metric for and Financially Incenting Academic Productivity at Oregon Health & Science University

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Abstract

Purpose

Established metrics reward academic faculty for clinical productivity. Few data have analyzed a bonus model to measure and reward academic productivity. This study’s objective was to describe development and use of a departmental academic bonus system for incenting faculty scholarly and educational productivity.

Method

This cross-sectional study analyzed a departmental bonus system among emergency medicine academic faculty at Oregon Health & Science University, including growth from 2005 to 2015. All faculty members with a primary appointment were eligible for participation. Each activity was awarded points based on a predetermined education or scholarly point scale. Faculty members accumulated points based on their activity (numerator), and the cumulative points of all faculty were the denominator. Variables were individual faculty member (deidentified), academic year, bonus system points, bonus amounts awarded, and measures of academic productivity. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, including measures of variance.

Results

The total annual financial bonus pool ranged from $211,622 to $274,706. The median annual per faculty academic bonus remained fairly constant over time ($3,980 in 2005–2006 vs. $4,293 in 2014–2015), with most change at the upper quartile of academic bonus (max bonus $16,920 in 2005–2006 vs. $39,207 in 2014–2015). Bonuses rose linearly among faculty in the bottom three quartiles of academic productivity, but increased exponentially in the 75th to 100th percentile.

Conclusions

Faculty academic productivity can be measured and financially rewarded according to an objective academic bonus system. The “academic point” used to measure productivity functions as an “academic relative value unit.”

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