Kathy Pipitone, MS
Faculty Affairs Director
University of Mississippi Medical Center
In offices of faculty affairs and faculty development (FA/FD), money, time, and people (team) are the building blocks for getting work accomplished. The ability to advocate for and manage these resources will enable your FA/FD office to have the means to meet the ever-growing responsibilities and opportunities facing academic medical centers in this changing world.
Advocating and Managing Resources
To advocate for and manage your resources as an FA/FD professional, it is integral to understand key aspects of your institution. These aspects include the institution’s organizational chart, mission, vision, goals, strategic initiatives, budget, faculty and staff policies, and procedures. With this foundation, you will know who supports your department’s efforts and can help sponsor your advocacy for money, time, and people in your department. Working with your organization’s leaders can be the key to advocating for resources. When leaders see that your requests directly relate to strategic initiatives, they are more likely to view the requests as vital to the organization and approve them.
Advocating for and managing resources is not always easy in complex academic health science centers. An important aspect of advocacy and managing resources is building relationships. Building relationships throughout the organization will enhance your ability to work with leaders on campus who can provide backing for money, time, and people. An interesting article, “How to Lead the Way Through Complexity, Constrain, and Uncertainty in Academic Health Science Centers,”1 discusses traditional approaches (designer, military, and transformational) and new approaches (authentic, self, shared, and network) to leadership and how they can be applied within academic health science centers. Learning how and when to use different leadership styles can help you build relationships.
Most institutions are on tight budgets. Before asking for an increase in funding for the FA/FD department, know exactly where your money is coming from and where your current funds are being allocated. Having a well-thought-out plan that shows you are using your current funds in the most effective manner will help your case for asking for additional funds. Tying your requests for additional money to the organization’s strategic initiatives may make the ask more palatable and sensible to those reviewing the request. A useful resource for information on how to think about money in academic settings is chapter 40 of The Academic Medicine Handbook. The chapter provides an overview of how the business of academic medicine works.2
Time is a finite resource. To advocate for additional time or any related changes, whether it is to ask for time off, protected time for your faculty, or reorganizing how time is spent in your department, it is helpful to know where time is currently being spent. As the goals for organizations and departments change, the time allocation may also need to change to meet new demands. Having all of your faculty and staff look at their job responsibilities and how they spend their time will be helpful to determine if time spent doing certain items needs to be adjusted. There are instances where faculty affairs and faculty development offices take on additional responsibilities for one reason or another and continue tasks that may not really be in the scope of their office. By knowing how everyone in the department is spending their time, you may be able to shift tasks to the appropriate department, which would free up time to take on pertinent new tasks or tasks put on the back burner due to lack of time.
People are one of the most valuable resources in an organization. Leadership for Health Professionals – Theory, Skills, and Applications notes, “Without skilled, dedicated, and competent individuals to do the work of the organization in an on-going manner, the organization is sure to fail. Always remember that the employees whom the leader directs will reflect the values and goals of the organization as well as communicate those goals and values to the customers whom the organization serves.”3
Managing and developing an effective team — a group of co-workers who collaborate and share their thoughts and ideas to better the organization — is optimal for your department. Diversity of skills, experiences, and knowledge is important for your department to grow and flourish. If everyone thinks alike, the office can become stagnant. Surrounding yourself with people who have different competencies but share values will allow your department to grow and become better. When you know the competencies you are looking for in your team members, you will be able to advocate to hire for the qualities, values, and skills that will enhance your team instead of settling for someone with the minimum qualifications. When you have a complimentary team, you will be able to support, sponsor, and advocate for them because you know the value they bring to your office. When all team members learn the expectations in the interview and the message is consistently upheld and lived by your employees, managing your team will become straightforward because everyone knows what is expected of them.
- Lieff SJ, Yammarino FJ. How to lead the way through complexity, constraint, and uncertainty in academic health science centers. Acad Med. 2017;92(5):614-621. doi:10.1097/acm.0000000000001475.
- Cohen MJ. How to think about money in academic medicine. In: Roberts L, ed. The Academic Medicine Handbook, 1st ed., vol. 1. New York, NY: Springer; 2013;323-329.
- Ledlow G, Stephens J. Leadership for Health Professionals: Theory, Skills, and Applications, rev. ed. Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning; 2018.