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Acad Med. 2015 Jul;90(7):930-6. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000674.

Faculty Vitality-Surviving the Challenges Facing Academic Health Centers: A National Survey of Medical Faculty.

Author information

L.H. Pololi is director, National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine: C - Change, resident scholar, Women's Studies Research Center, and senior scientist, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts. A.T. Evans is chief, Division of Hospital Medicine, and professor of medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York. J.T. Civian is senior analyst, Women's Studies Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts. B.K. Gibbs is associate vice chancellor for diversity, University of New Mexico Health Science Center, and assistant professor of family medicine, University of New Mexico Medical School of Medicine, Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was formerly at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. L.D. Coplit is associate dean for faculty development and associate professor of medicine, Frank H. Netter, MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, Bridgeport, Connecticut. L.H. Gillum is associate dean for academic and faculty affairs, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, Rochester, Michigan. R.T. Brennan is research associate, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.



Faculty with high vitality are essential to the missions of academic health centers (AHCs). Because little is known about how to measure or enhance faculty vitality, the authors assessed current faculty vitality and identified its predictors.


In a stratified random sample of 26 nationally representative U.S. AHCs, the authors surveyed 4,578 full-time faculty during 2007-2009. The validated survey measured detailed faculty perceptions of their professional experiences and organizational culture. Vitality was measured with a previously evaluated five-item scale.


Of the faculty invited, 2,381 (52%) responded, with 2,218 eligible for analysis. Respondents included 512 (23%) underrepresented in medicine minority (URMM) faculty and 1,172 (53%) women. In a multivariable model including individual- and AHC-level factors, the strongest predictors of vitality were faculty members' perceptions of four dimensions of AHC culture: Relationships/inclusion, Values alignment, Work-life integration, and Institutional support (all P < .001). Weaker predictors were faculty age, institution type (public/private), and the AHC's National Institutes of Health funding rank (all P ≤ .03). Half of the respondents scored high on vitality, whereas 25% had low, or suboptimal, scores. Holding perceptions of culture constant, neither female nor URMM faculty had vitality scores that were different on average from male or nonminority faculty.


A large percentage of faculty lack the vitality essential to meeting the AHC missions of discovery, education, and patient care. Enhancing faculty vitality, and AHC resilience, requires more attention to strengthening relationships, improving the misalignment between faculty and institutional values, and improving work-life integration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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