OBJECTIVE: Department of medicine chairs have a critical role in the promotion of clinician-educators. Our primary objective was to determine how chairs viewed: 1) the importance of specific areas of clinician-educator performance in promotion decisions; and 2) the importance and quality of information on available measures of performance. A secondary objective was to compare the views of department chairs with those of promotion and tenure committee chairs.
METHODS: In October 1997, a questionnaire was mailed to all department chairs in the United States and Canada asking them to rate the importance of 11 areas of clinician-educators' performance in evaluating them for promotion. We also asked them to rate 36 measures of performance. We compared their responses to a similar 1996 survey administered to promotion committee chairs.
RESULTS: One hundred fourteen of 139 department chairs (82%) responded to the survey. When considering a clinician-educator for promotion, department chairs view teaching skills and clinical skills as the most important areas of performance, as did the promotion committee chairs. Of the measures used to evaluate teaching performance, teaching awards were considered most important and rated as a high-quality measure. When evaluating a clinician-educator's clinical skills, peer and trainee evaluation were considered as the most important measures of performance, but these were rated low in quality. Patient satisfaction and objective outcome measures also were viewed as important measures that needed improvement. Promotion committee chairs placed more emphasis on productivity in publications and external grant support when compared to department chairs.
CONCLUSION: It is reassuring that both department chairs and promotion committee chairs value teaching skills and clinical skills as the most important areas of a clinician-educator's performance when evaluating for promotion. However, differences in opinion regarding the importance of several performance measures and the need for improved quality measures may represent barriers to the timely promotion of clinician-educators.