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Medical Schools Make Strides on Work-Life Balance for Academic Physicians

September 24, 2012

Copyright Lisa Helfert


ACE and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation honor five medical schools today by awarding each a $250,000 grant for excellence in faculty career flexibility. Two additional institutions will receive $25,000 each for promising practices in the field.

The Council launched the medical schools awards after investigating the structural and cultural constraints for faculty career flexibility in academic medicine. The awards are part of ACE's ongoing work with The Alfred P. Sloan Projects for Faculty Career Flexibility. The winners will be recognized tonight at ACE's Board of Directors meeting in Washington, where Kathleen Christensen, program director of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and Darrell G. Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and ACE Board member, will deliver remarks.

"Our colleagues at the Association of American Medical Colleges note that the United States is facing a looming crisis: a serious doctor shortage," said ACE Senior Vice President Gretchen M. Bataille. "If our medical schools aren't retaining the right faculty, then that shortage will only be exacerbated. These seven institutions are taking bold steps to keep the best and brightest teachers, which helps attract future doctors. We are grateful to the Sloan Foundation for their continued support of these efforts."

"By attracting and retaining the best of the best, these winning medical schools are able to put themselves on a path toward excellence," said Kathleen Christensen, program director, Alfred. P. Sloan Foundation. "They do this through targeted efforts to address the unique work/life challenges faced by faculty. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is proud to partner with ACE to honor these winners and is deeply appreciative of ACE's leadership on these issues."

The winners of the excellence grants are:

  • Boston University School of Medicine. Among other initiatives, BU will expand its Emerging Leaders Forum and Academy for Faculty Advancement into a new Leadership Forum to assist mid-career faculty.
  • Indiana University School of Medicine. Indiana’s planned activities focus on three areas in faculty career flexibility that have been shown to lead to high satisfaction: role clarity, social support for work-life integration and input into one’s schedule.
  • Stanford University (CA) School of Medicine. Stanford has developed the Academic Biomedical Career Customization to bridge the gap between flexibility policies and their cultural acceptance.
  • University of Massachusetts Medical School. UMass will establish a new office of faculty talent management and host a nationwide conference at the end of their two-year grant period.
  • Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Among other projects, Washington University has a new program, Family-Wise, in which peer mentors provide extra guidance and support for faculty who are forming families while in the early stages of their careers.

The University of California, Davis School of Medicine and State University of New York Upstate Medical University are receiving $25,000 each for their promising practices.

"Medical schools face unique challenges in not just finding but keeping highly specialized faculty," said ACE Senior Advisor and Project Director Claire Van Ummersen. "The awardees have addressed this issue head-on. They should serve as examples not just for other medical schools but for any institution facing a crisis in retaining a highly trained workforce. Our thanks to the Sloan Foundation for supporting this important work."

"We are grateful to ACE and the Sloan Foundation for their leadership in recognizing excellence in faculty career flexibility. We commend the awardees for their work to foster work-life balance in the institutional culture, which in turn is a major factor in faculty satisfaction. Our faculty are among academic medicine's greatest resources, and with the United States facing a shortage of more than 90,000 physicians by 2020, faculty retention is a topic none of us can afford to ignore," said Darrell G. Kirch, MD, AAMC President and CEO.

Brief summaries of each institution's award-winning activities can be found on the ACE website

Front Row: Mark Wrighton, Chancellor, Washington University in St. Louis; Diana Gray, Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; Emelia Benjamin, Vice Chair, Faculty Development & Diversity, Boston University School of Medicine; Paula Trief, Senior Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs & Faculty Development, State University of New York Upstate Medical University; Caroline Simard, Associate Director, Office of Diversity & Leadership, Stanford University School of Medicine; Christy Sandborg, Vice President of Medical Affairs, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine; Hannah Valantine, Senior Associate Dean, Office of Diversity & Leadership, Stanford University School of Medicine; Claire Van Ummersen, Senior Advisor, Division of Leadership and Lifelong Learning, American Council on Education; Gretchen Bataille, Senior Vice President, Division of Leadership and Lifelong Learning, American Council on Education.

Back Row: Ed Callahan, Associate Dean, Academic Personnel, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine; Molly Corbett Broad, President, American Council on Education; Karen Antman, Dean, Boston University School of Medicine; Darrell Kirch, President and CEO, Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC); David Duggan, Dean, College of Medicine, State University of New York Upstate Medical University; Terence Flotte, Dean, University of Massachusetts Medical School; Luanne Thorndyke, Vice Provost, Faculty Affairs, University of Massachusetts Medicine School; Craig Brater, Dean, Indiana University School of Medicine;  Stephen Bogdewic, Executive Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs & Professional Development, Indiana University School of Medicine.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation, its Working Longer program is expanding understanding of aging Americans' work patterns.

MEDIA CONTACT: Ginnie Titterton ​▪ 202-939-9368 ▪

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