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Acad Med. 2003 Jul;78(7):690-701.

Effects of performance-based compensation and faculty track on the clinical activity, research portfolio, and teaching mission of a large academic department of medicine.

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Department of Medicine, D-3100 MCN, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.



Academic departments of medicine must compete effectively for extramural research support and access to patients while preserving their teaching mission. There is not much literature describing plausible mechanisms for ensuring success. The authors describe the design, implementation, and testing of a performance-based compensation plan in a department of medicine that is closely linked to the faculty appointment track.


Over a three-year period, the changes this plan effected in research portfolio, clinical enterprise, and faculty satisfaction as well as the teaching perceptions of students and housestaff were measured.


The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for clinical work grew 40% faster after plan implementation. Federal funding increased at a CAGR that was 170% greater than before. The department halved its award rankings at the National Institutes of Health and faculty satisfaction improved compared with the former method of compensation. Faculty who better understood the plan were more satisfied with the conversion. High measures of teaching quality were maintained by faculty with no apparent change in satisfaction among students or housestaff.


This performance-based compensation plan with its emphasis on the objectives of career orientation and faculty track assignment strengthened the opportunity to grow both clinical productivity and the funded research portfolio.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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