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Perspectives: Advice for Faculty Entering Academic Medicine

The Perspectives section of Faculty Vitae regularly poses a provocative question to leaders in academic medicine. In this month's Perspectives, we asked several faculty members and a dean to offer their insights to the next generation of leaders coming through academic medicine. Leaders from AAMC governing boards – Council of Deans share their insights.

What professional insights would you offer to junior faculty coming up through the ranks?

Ferhan Asghar

Assistant Professor
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Division of Spine Surgery
University of Cincinnati Hospital

“…Get involved and educate yourself about the workings of medical institutions beyond the four walls of your own clinic. It is important to increase one’s awareness of issues at the institutional, local, and national levels. Familiarity with issues at other institutions helps in anticipation of problems and changes at one’s own institution, and provides a broader perspective in evaluating happenings at the local level. This can be accomplished through activity in a variety of medical organizations, be it through specialty, advocacy, academic, or education focused groups.”

Michael A. Dimyan, M.D.

Resident, Harvard-Partners Neurology
Clinical Fellow, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Dimyan is starting a research fellowship in Neurorehabilitation at the NIH in July 2006

“One of the primary joys of a career in medicine are the unexplored possibilities of career development, whether in teaching, research, administration, or clinical practice. However, the trainee, whether student or resident, is most often only exposed to those individuals whose interests include teaching. At any one institution, there may be hundreds of individuals whose interests don't afford them direct exposure to the trainee population. And outside of formal teaching institutions, MDs, DOs, and other health professionals have found roles in all types of commercial, political, and academic functions.

The key for the trainee, while being absorbed in the day to day of learning one's profession, is to remember and continue to explore their own personal interests within that profession and to make contact with those who may have chosen pathways that are less visible from the medical school perspective. As for educational institutions themselves, incentives must be created to bring the biotech Clinical Science Officer, the MD-congressperson, or the private practitioner back to the medical school to mentor, to guide, and to offer perspective on the wealth of opportunities available in medicine.”

Anthony A. Meyer, M.D., Ph.D.

University of North Carolina
Chair of Surgery
Member, Council of Academic Societies

“I would encourage young faculty to identify specific career goals, and with the help of a mentor who has done similar things, develop a plan to reach those goals. I would also encourage them to understand the financial implications of their goals, and the time required to achieve them. At UNC in the Department of Surgery, we have a comprehensive Faculty Development Program.”

Janet Bickel, M.A.

Career Development and Executive Coach

“Take responsibility for the relationship with your chair. Learn about what’s most important to her and how she prefers to get information. This person is under even more intense time pressures than you are so strive to make the best use of her time. If because of her characteristics or a lack of respect between you, this relationship remains troubled, carefully assess your options. Never indulge in blame or badmouthing.

At the same time, don’t become too dependent on any one or two people. Expand your network of reciprocal relationships with a variety of peers and critical thinking partners. Build and diversify your community — inside and outside of your department and field.

Take responsibility for all aspects of your professional development. Discover your strengths and cultivate them. You are the CEO of your own career!”

Additional Resources

Academic Medicine has published several recent articles on faculty development and career advancement:

Pololi, LH, Knight SM, Dennis K, and Frankel RM. Helping Medical School Faculty Realize their Dreams: An Innovative, Collaborative Mentoring Program. Acad Med 2002 77:377-384 External Link.

Wingard DL, Garman KA, Reznik V. Facilitating Faculty Success: Outcomes and Cost Benefit of the UCSD National Center of Leadership in Academic Medicine. Acad Med 2004 79:S9-11S External Link.

Bickel J. and Brown A. Generation X: Implications for Faculty Recruitment and Development in Academic Health Centers.  Acad Med 2005 80: 205-210 External Link

Academic Physician and Scientist has published a series of articles that address support of faculty in their academic careers:

Grigsby K. Potential Pitfalls for Junior Faculty. Academic Physician and Scientist May 2004 

Bickel J. Whose Mission are You Living? Academic Physician and Scientist March 2004 

Faculty Vitae

Please note that some links or e-mail addresses have been disabled, may be omitted, or may not load correctly due to changes in content availability or an individual's institution affiliation/contact information.

To inquire about updates to information published in Faculty Vitae, please e-mail Valarie Clark at vclark@aamc.org.

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