Meeting the Late-Career Needs of Faculty Transitioning Through Retirement: One Institution’s Approach

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Abstract

Problem

Medical school faculty are aging, but few academic health centers are adequately prepared with policies, programs, and resources (PPR) to assist late-career faculty. The authors sought to examine cultural barriers to successful retirement and create alignment between individual and institutional needs and tasks through PPR that embrace the contributions of senior faculty while enabling retirement transitions at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, 2013–2017.

Approach

Faculty 50 or older were surveyed, programs at other institutions and from the literature (multiple fields) were reviewed, and senior faculty and leaders, including retired faculty, were engaged to develop and implement PPR. Cultural barriers were found to be significant, and a multipronged, multiyear strategy to address these barriers, which sequentially added PPR to support faculty, was put in place. A comprehensive framework of sequenced PPR was developed to address the needs and tasks of late-career transitions within three distinct phases: pre-retirement, retirement, and post-retirement.

Outcomes

This sequential introduction approach has led to important outcomes for all three of the retirement phases, including reduction of cultural barriers, a policy that has been useful in assessing viability of proposed phased retirement plans, transparent and realistic discussions about financial issues, and consideration of roles that retired faculty can provide.

Next Steps

The authors are tracking the issues mentioned in consultations and efficacy of succession planning, and will be resurveying faculty to further refine their work. This framework approach could serve as a template for other academic health centers to address late-career faculty development.

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