Jane Tolbert, PhD
Director, Office of Academic Affairs
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Fostering excellence in faculty affairs requires an understanding of the underlying data related to faculty recruitment and retention, promotion and tenure, and other key areas. Examples of this data may include rank, time in rank, demographics, tenure status, and term appointment end date.
Data analysis may be used in faculty affairs to evaluate the effectiveness of institutional programs and policies supporting the faculty life cycle and to explore strategic areas of interest to senior leadership. These areas of strategic interest may include climate surveys, gender equity and salary equity studies, and retention and attrition rates. The faculty affairs office may also provide data to support strategic planning and grant applications. Understanding where and how faculty data is stored, and the type of data, is essential to effective data analysis supporting these initiatives. It is critical to identify the types of data that need to be collected and to ensure needed data is being collected in a form that may be accessed and analyzed.
While every school is different, it is important to understand where faculty data resides in your institution, who the stewards of the data are, and how to access the data. Many institutions have established data governance committees; however, institutions without such formal arrangements should, at minimum, provide clear guidance that delineate decision rights about how and for what purposes institutional data may be used. Maintaining an understanding of broader institutional data needs is also important. Medical schools have specific data collection needs, but this data collection must be configured to satisfy both the needs of the medical school and broader needs of the institution.
Sources of faculty data within institutions may include specialized faculty databases and information systems in the faculty affairs office or elsewhere (either homegrown or commercially available), the institution’s human resources system, financial system, and grants system, to name but a few common areas. Externally, the AAMC’s Faculty Roster provides school-specific and national data for medical school faculty (further discussed below).
Depending on the nature of the data, data stewards may include personnel from the offices of faculty affairs, institutional research, central finance and administration, human resources, and sponsored programs offices, as well as departmental personnel. The role of the data steward cannot be overemphasized, as they are responsible for the management, control, integrity, and maintenance of data.
At minimum, the faculty affairs office should have clear protocols in place for obtaining and analyzing data for common reporting responsibilities, including reporting to the AAMC (on full-time faculty and chairs), Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) faculty counts, rankings reports, and any other routinely requested data for both internal and external needs. Ad hoc reports are often challenging to address and may require data that is not maintained by the institution, leading to time-consuming and potentially inaccurate reports. As many organizations struggle with making sure their data is accurate and consistent, interpreting and understanding the available data is essential. Those creating reports must understand any limitations of the data and be able to explain data limitations and special circumstances to senior leadership.
As discussed above, faculty data may be used to make data-driven decisions to evaluate the effectiveness of institutional programs and policies supporting the faculty life cycle. Evidence-based analysis is critical to evaluate the success and impact of faculty initiatives, including defining outcomes, analyzing success, and making improvements driven by data. The faculty affairs office may be called upon to design and implement such analyses and programs, evaluate outcomes, and use the resulting data to improve the faculty experience.
In addition to assessing faculty programs and initiatives, it is essential that faculty performance is evaluated on an annual basis (or other time frame according to institutional policy). Annual reviews are critical to the development and continuing academic and professional success of all faculty and allow faculty to reflect on their academic progress, professional activities, achievements, and educational contributions. The assessment must contain four key areas: a self-review, an assessment by the faculty member’s chair (or designee), an in-person meeting, and an opportunity for the faculty member to both receive and respond to feedback. The assessment may be documented on paper or on a web-based platform, and institutions should track the review completion rate among all faculty.
AAMC Tools and Resources for Benchmarking and Data Analysis
Benchmarking in faculty affairs allows comparison between data from a single institution and aggregate data from all U.S. medical schools. The practice helps institutions identify opportunities for improvement and set targets in key areas. The AAMC provides a wealth of benchmarking data to evaluate institutional effectiveness in comparison to national faculty data.
The AAMC provides various tools to support faculty data analysis. The AAMC Faculty Roster database allows access to a variety of school-specific reports, national reports, and benchmarking reports on full-time faculty and chairs. Faculty roster reports include data on retention, promotion, alumni, demographics, degrees, and departments.
The AAMC Faculty Salary Report provides compensation information broken out in a variety of ways, such as by department/specialty, degree, and rank, as well as by a medical school’s private/public status and region of the country.
The biennial report The State of Women in Academic Medicine describes the representation of women in academic medicine from applications to medical school to key career stages. The data and recommendations are designed to support advocacy for the advancement of women in academic medicine.
The AAMC’s StandPoint™ Surveys provide opportunities to assess specific areas of faculty engagement, as well as the effectiveness of an institution’s talent management policies and practices.