How do we find a way to value indispensable faculty contributions?

Harriet Hopf, M.D., accociate dean for academic affairs, University of Utah, says retention, tenure and promotion policies need to move beyond NIH grants and funding.


My personal passion is: How do we figure out a way to value and measure the variety of indispensable contributions that our faculty make to schools of medicine? I'm working on how do we revise our retention, promotion, and tenure guidelines to reflect the diversity of things that faculty do that make medical schools fantastic.

My problem is: How do you capture excellence? How do you measure that your faculty member is excellent?

I think part of the barrier is we have a model, that everyone is comfortable in, that doesn't really work, which says there's only one way to demonstrate excellence and that is having NIH grants and publishing and discovery science.

I think the big challenge is to change the culture so that not that we say, "Educational scholarship isn't as good," rather that we say, "Wow, there are faculty doing amazing things that aren't related to NIH and discovery science." They're doing other kinds of scholarships, and we've known for 20 years that we should be counting those other kind of scholarship, and now we're going to change our culture so people say, "That's a really valuable activity."

What I see is that we now encourage people to follow their passion, which then transforms how patients get their care, which then transforms how healthy our population is. I think it's an opportunity to really take us back home and change fundamentally how we deliver health care, because I think everyone would agree it's not yet perfect.

For our leadership to be looking for members of our faculty who may not have leadership positions but who have innovative ideas and will be people who can change how we view our institution is really important.