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Multigenerational Challenges in Academic Medicine: UCDavis's Responses

Howell, Lydia Pleotis MD; Servis, Gregg; Bonham, Ann PhD


Academic medicine is a unique work environment, one of the few where members of four different generations regularly interact and where multigenerational teams are key to fulfilling its missions, particularly education. This can lead to increased creativity, but also to intergenerational conflict, since each generation has different values and expectations. The authors describe multigenerational challenges confronted at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, and that school's responses to them. These challenges include issues related to work hours, workload, compensation, evaluation for advancement, recruitment and retention, and attendance at required meetings. Awareness of the different generational qualities and values allowed the school of medicine to identify the multigenerational origin of many of these ongoing issues and challenges and to plan appropriate solutions within the Office of Academic Affairs. These include policy changes related to work–life balance, utilizing multiple faculty tracks with different roles, allowing part-time faculty appointments, creating a variety of faculty development programs geared toward different generational needs (which utilize flexible modules, menus of options, and alternative technologies for presentation), defining appropriate reward and incentives through compensations plans, and creating peer-reviewed awards. The authors conclude that these efforts mitigate conflict, promote diversity, and allow multigenerational teams to function more effectively and creatively in education, research, and clinical care. Ongoing evaluation will further refine this approach.

Dr. Howell is associate dean of academic affairs and professor of pathology, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, Davis, California.

Mr. Servis is director of faculty development, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, Davis, California.

Dr. Bonham is interim executive associate dean; chair, Department of Medical Pharmacology and Toxicology; and professor of medical pharmacology and toxicology, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, Davis, California.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Howell, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Professor of Pathology, University of California, Davis Medical Center, 4150 V Street, Sacramento CA 95817; telephone: (916) 734-8370; e-mail: 〈〉.

© 2005 Association of American Medical Colleges