aamc.org does not support this web browser.

    Perspectives On Transitions

    How do faculty effectively prepare for their next professional transition? What are the factors that go into accepting a new position? In this month’s Perspectives, we asked two faculty members and one administrator to tell us about their most recent professional transition experience and lessons learned. The diverse strategies offered are from a junior faculty member accepting his first faculty appointment, a senior ranking financial administrator reversing her decision to retire to assist in a medical school merger, and a mid-career faculty member asked to lead a new women’s initiative and office.

    What resources/programs (Faculty Development Office) or who (mentor, colleague, friend) was instrumental in guiding you through the career transition?

    Frances Nuthalapaty, M.D. (a junior faculty member accepting first faculty appointment):

    • “My transition from a sub-specialty fellowship to a junior faculty position was most aided by advice from junior faculty.  I found that these mentors, who were closest to the transition in their own careers, were best able to provide advice on issues such as negotiating for resources and avoiding obvious pitfalls. Another valuable component was the experience I gained by interviewing at a breadth of academic settings.  Seeing first hand what works (and doesn't work) made it much easier for me to mold my ideal into something that was realistic.” 

    Patricia St. Germain, M.S. (a senior leader reversing retirement decision to lead new merger):

    • “The activities most important to transitioning to a new position are KNOW what your supervisor wants from you in the new position, KNOW you have the capabilities to do the job and use your networks! Take charge of your career and position yourself to be noticed, acknowledged for good work and have a sense of humor. At the University of Arizona, there are limited formal resources available for professional development.  The President of the University is addressing the issue primarily for faculty.   President Peter Likins has implemented support by developing an office to address concerns of ensuring diversity in hiring and promoting women and the underserved populations.  However, it takes time to bring about change.  In the College of Medicine, the Dean has an office for women's health and is currently assigning staff (faculty and professional) to an office to enhance diversity recruitment, retention and to develop appropriate reward systems. My greatest mentor is a male colleague who hired me as a beginning accountant.  I, in turn, have mentored several women and minorities in promoting themselves by advancing their education, positioning themselves for promotions and building up their networks.  To succeed you need to surround yourself with a variety of people:  mentors, consultants, colleagues, friends and family. Each will provide support when you need it; one should also be willing to accept their support when offered.” 

    Ann Brown, M.D. (a mid-career faculty member identified to lead new initiative):

    • “My most recent transition was to a new role as Associate Dean for Women in Medicine and Science in my home institution.  Three resources were very helpful in navigating this new opportunity.  First, my Dean, Sandy Williams, was (and is) accessible, supportive and smart. Second, colleagues from outside of the institution, including Wendy Wolf, Diane Magrane and Janet Bickel, provided generous and sanguine advice.  And third, my program coordinator, Anna Brodeur, provided ballast during the transition. Her day-to-day partnership keeps the work exciting and on track.  All three types of support, from leadership, from colleagues, and from close co-workers are key.”


    Resources: Transition Tips from interviews with University Administrative Leaders

    In the January issue of  NACUBO Business Officer, the journal of the National Association of Colleges and University Business Officers,  two leaders were interviewed about their recent transitions. From these interviews of  Cynthia Teniente-Matson, new Vice President of Administration for Fresno State and Morgan Olsen, new executive vice president and treasurer of Purdue, come these personal transition tips: 

    1. Know yourself and understand the culture of the institution you are moving to: Use self-assessment tools to help you better understand your decision-making preferences, leadership style, and the optimal organizational structure that would allow you to thrive.   
    2. Be prepared for every opportunity: Keep your curriculum vitae, bio, and resume current. Stay abreast of major institutional changes and shifts. New institutional directions often result in opportunities.
    3. Tap into your own personal and professional networks: Because of limited faculty affairs/development offices and resources, faculty need to see and rely on their own professional and personal networks.

    For more on personal and professional transitions, read the Faculty Vitae feature: Academic Transitions – Saying Goodbye, Shifting into Neutral, and Moving Forward.