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School of Medicine adopts new Clinician-Educator academic rank series

The School of Medicine has adopted a new Clinician-Educator series – a faculty promotional pathway that emphasizes clinical and teaching excellence. Robert Shangraw, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine, answers questions about the new series below. Dr. Shangraw is the Chair of the School of Medicine’s Promotion & Tenure Committee.
  Q: What is the new Clinician-Educator series? The Clinical prefix to Professor or Associate Professor may be used for primary faculty who are principally engaged in clinical service activities and fulfill a major role in the OHSU clinical enterprise. Promotion in the Clinician-Educator series depends upon benchmark achievement in teaching and service (administrative and/or clinical) but does not assess scholarship other than within the context of teaching or service. It is a non-tenured track.

Q: What are the advantages? The Clinician-Educator series is designed as an alternative pathway to recognize contributions of clinical faculty in the School of Medicine, which accounts for different professional environments for our faculty. The new series is in line with the School’s goal to provide a professional environment that broadens support for our faculty members’ career goals. It recognizes a professional path focused predominantly on clinical activity, and acknowledges that, as members of a teaching hospital and university, these faculty members play an essential role in medical education. Advancement through the Clinician-Educator series in lieu of the Traditional series is elective; that is, individual faculty members, in consultation with their department chair, choose whether it is the right pathway for them. It is flexible to address the possibility that a faculty member’s focus might change over time. One can change either way between the Traditional and the Clinician-Educator series once, as long as the change occurs at the time of proposed promotion in rank. While the new series is not for everyone, I think its availability is a step forward for the School of Medicine.

Q: Are there disadvantages? Not that I see. Some people were worried that this series might create a two-tier faculty ranking system. I don’t see that being the case at all. Rather, it simply recognizes that people are different and have different career preferences.

Q: Is there precedent for the new series? Yes. We already have a precedent for a prefixed series – our existing research series has been available for many years. The research series is designed for primary faculty members who elect to focus their effort on extramurally-funded research activity. As such, the only criterion for promotion in the research series is scholarship. Teaching and service are not directly reviewed, other than in the context of scholarship, by the Promotion & Tenure Committee for advancement through the Research series. The Clinician-Educator series is based on teaching and service, and scholarship is not directly reviewed other than in the context of teaching or service. The standards for teaching and service required for promotion do not differ from those in the Traditional series. The Research series is also untenured. The overall goal is to provide opportunities for faculty members to succeed and be recognized based on their career choices. Choice of the right series through which to seek academic advancement is an individual prerogative.

Q: How was the decision to adopt this new series made? Dean Richardson solicited a significant amount of faculty involvement in this decision. It started over a year ago with a mock debate on the topic at the annual all-faculty meeting. After that, an informal online poll of all primary faculty members in the School was conducted. The Dean asked the Promotion & Tenure Committee to assemble a set of guidelines to convert an abstract concept into a potential operational phase. Last summer and fall, School of Medicine department chairs and the faculty council, in sequence, were presented with these putative guidelines, and each body voted to adopt the new series.

Q: What’s the timing and process for applying for this new track? It is ready to go. The Clinician-Educator series has been approved by Dean Richardson and revisions to the Promotion & Tenure guidelines have been approved by the School of Medicine faculty council. The Promotion & Tenure Committee will review applications for this new series in the next academic cycle (2009-10) – the schedule is the same as it is every year for all applications, in every series. I predict there may be pent-up demand from our clinicians for this new track and anticipate a fairly large number of applications but the Promotion & Tenure Committee is ready for that.

Q: Where can I get more information? I encourage you to connect with the chair of your department’s Promotion & Tenure Committee for more information, including information about your department’s timetable for promotion. I will also be holding up to three brown-bag informational sessions in the spring and summer. To review the revised Promotion & Tenure guidelines and supporting information: click here.
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