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J Am Coll Surg. 2013 May;216(5):944-53; discussion 953-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2012.12.052. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

A review of trends in attrition rates for surgical faculty: a case for a sustainable retention strategy to cope with demographic and economic realities.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, The Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University Hospital, Columbus, OH 43210, USA. Bhagwan.satiani@osumc.edu



Our aim was to compare trends in retention of academic surgeons by reviewing surgical faculty attrition rates (leaving academic surgery for any reason) of 3 cohorts at 5-year intervals between 1996 and 2011.


The Association of American Medical Colleges' Faculty Administrative Management On-Line User System database was queried for a retention report of all tenure/clinical track full-time MD faculty within our academic medical center on July 1, 1996 (group 1), July 1, 2001 (group 2), and July 1, 2006 (group 3). Retention was tracked for 5 years post snapshot. The individual 5-year cohort attrition rates (observed frequencies) were compared with combined attrition rates for all 3 groups (expected frequencies).


Overall, attrition trends for groups 2 (lower) and 3 (higher) were significantly different than the trends for all groups combined. Minorities and professors at the full or associate rank in group 3 contributed to this difference. Faculty in group 3 leaving our academic medical center were significantly more likely to transition into nonacademic practice compared with the other 2 groups.


Greater attrition in the last 5-year cohort, despite the increase in faculty positions, is worrisome. A continuous retention life cycle is critical if academic medical centers hope to compete for talent. Retention planning should include on-boarding programs for enculturation, monitoring of professional satisfaction, formalized mentoring of younger surgeons, retaining academic couples and a part-time workforce, leadership and talent management, exit interviews, and competitive financial packages.

Copyright © 2013 American College of Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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