Recruiting Faculty Leaders at U.S. Medical Schools: A Process Without Improvement?

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Abstract

Recruiting faculty leaders to work in colleges of medicine is a ubiquitous, time-consuming, costly activity. Little quantitative information is available about contemporary leadership recruiting processes and outcomes. In this article, the authors examine current recruiting methods and outcomes in colleges of medicine and compare academic search approaches with the approaches often employed in intellectual-capital-rich industries.

In 2015, the authors surveyed chairs of internal medicine at U.S. medical schools regarding their recruiting practices and outcomes—specifically their selection methods, the duration of searches, the recruitment of women and minorities underrepresented in medicine (URM), and their satisfaction with search outcomes.

The authors found that department chairs were extensively engaged in numerous searches for leaders. The recruitment process most commonly required 7 to 12 months from initiation to signed contract. Interestingly, longer searches (19+ months) were much more frequently associated with a recruitment outcome that chairs viewed as unsatisfactory or very unsatisfactory. Most leadership searches produced very few women and URM finalists. The biggest perceived hurdles to successful recruitment were the need to relocate the candidate and family and the shortage of good candidates.

The process of recruiting leaders in academic medicine has changed little in more than 25 years. Process improvement is important and should entail carefully structured search processes, including both an overhaul of search committees and further emphasis on leadership development within the college of medicine. The authors propose specific steps to enhance recruitment of members of URM groups and women to leadership positions in academic medicine.

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