Purpose Tenure status has important implications for medical school faculty recruitment and retention and may affect educational quality, academic freedom, and collegiality. However, tenure trends in academic family medicine are unknown. This study aimed to describe trends in tenure status of family medicine faculty overall and by gender and status of minorities underrepresented in medicine (URM) in Liaison Committee on Medical Education-accredited medical schools. Method Association of American Medical Colleges Faculty Roster data were used to describe trends in tenure status of full-time family medicine faculty, 1977 to 2017. Bivariate and trend analyses were conducted to assess associations and describe patterns between tenure status and gender, race, and ethnicity. Interdepartmental variations in tenure trends over the years were also examined. Results Among family medicine faculty, the proportions of faculty tenured or on a tenure track dropped more than threefold from 1977 (46.6%; n = 507/1,089) to 2017 (12.7%; n = 729/5,752). Lower proportions of women and URM faculty were tenured or on a tenure track than male and non-URM faculty, respectively. But the gaps among them were converging. Compared with other clinical departments, family medicine had the highest proportion of faculty (74.6%; n = 4,291/5,752) not on a tenure track in 2017. Conclusions Proportion of tenure positions significantly decreased among family medicine faculty in U.S. medical schools. While gaps between male and female faculty and among certain racial/ethnic groups remained for family medicine tenure status, they have decreased over time, mainly because of a substantial increase in nontenured positions.
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