Recent Trends in Faculty Promotion in U.S. Medical Schools: Implications for Recruitment, Retention, and Diversity and Inclusion

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Abstract

Purpose Faculty promotion is important for retention and has implications for diversity. This study provides an update on recent trends in faculty promotion in U.S. medical schools. Method Using data from the Association of American Medical Colleges Faculty Roster, the authors examined trends in faculty promotion over 10 years. Promotion status for full-time assistant and full-time associate professors who started between 2000 and 2009 inclusive was followed from January 1, 2010 to January 1, 2019. The authors used bivariate analyses to assess associations and promotion rates by sex, race/ethnicity, department, tenure status, and degree type. Results The promotion rate for assistant professors was 44.3% (2,330/5,263) in basic science departments, 37.1% (17,232/46,473) in clinical science departments, and 33.6% (131/390) in other departments. Among clinical departments, family medicine had the lowest rate of promoting assistant professors (24.4%; 484/1,982) and otolaryngology the highest rate (51.2%; 282/551). Faculty members who were male (38.9%; 11,687/30,017), White (40.0%; 12,635/31,596), tenured (58.7%; 98/167) or tenure-eligible (55.6%; 6,653/11,976), and holding MDs/PhDs (48.7%; 1,968/4,038) had higher promotion rates than, respectively, faculty who were female (36.3%; 7,975/21,998), minorities underrepresented in medicine (URM; 31.0%; 1,716/5,539), nontenured (32.5%; 12,174/37,433), and holding other/unknown degrees (20.6%; 195/948; all P <.001). These differences were less pronounced among associate professors; however, URM and nontenured faculty continued to have lower promotion rates compared with White, Asian, or tenured faculty at the associate professor level. Conclusions Promotion rates varied not only by faculty rank but also by faculty sex, race/ethnicity, department, tenure status, and degree type. The differences were more pronounced for assistant professors than associate professors. URM faculty members, particularly assistant professors, were promoted at lower rates than their White and Asian peers. More research to understand the drivers of disparities in faculty promotion seems warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1441-1448
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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