ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2011; 18:981–987 © 2011 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine


Objectives:  Due to the rapid growth in academic emergency departments over the past 20 years, recent significant changes in leadership have occurred. To prepare for future transitions, leaders in academic emergency medicine (EM) should identify those skills and characteristics desired in future academic chairs. The authors sought to determine which skills and characteristics are more important than others to help guide the development of EM-specific leadership courses.

Methods:  A survey of the current academic chairs in EM included questions pertaining to demographics, career time course, expected career longevity, and ratings of skills and characteristics deemed necessary for academic chairs. Chairs were asked to rate the qualities twice, to identify qualities that must be obtained prior to becoming chair, and those that may be obtained during chair tenure.

Results:  Ninety-seven percent of the membership of the Association of Academic Chairs in Emergency Medicine (AACEM) completed the survey. Most chairs have been in practice for over 15 years, and a minority, for less than 10 years. One-third predict less than 6 more years in their current position, and almost 50% predict their careers as chair will continue an additional 6–10 years. The highest-rated formal training was an administrative or leadership training course or certification. Chairs noted that academic experience (including scholarly productivity, peer-reviewed publication, faculty development, and graduate medical education) was the most important skill set to obtain prior to becoming a chair, while hospital governance and cross-departmental collaboration skills can be obtained once in the role. Managerial skills were also felt to be of importance. Personal characteristics were overall rated highly. No differences were found between responses from early chairs and those later in their careers.

Conclusions:  Leadership courses for aspiring chairs in EM should foster the development of academic experience and managerial skills. Advanced degrees in leadership or administration are highly desirable in future chairs.