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Part-Time Physician Faculty in a Pediatrics Department: A Study of Equity in Compensation and Academic Advancement

Darbar, Mumtaz MS, CPA; Emans, S. Jean MD; Harris, Z. Leah MD; Brown, Nancy J. MD; Scott, Theresa A. MS; Cooper, William O. MD, MPH

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318222317e
Workforce Issues

Purpose: To assess equity in compensation and academic advancement in an academic pediatrics department in which a large proportion of the physician faculty hold part-time appointments.

Method: The authors analyzed anonymized data from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics databases for physician faculty (faculty with MD or MD/PhD degrees) employed during July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008. The primary outcomes were total compensation and years at assistant professor rank. They compared compensation and years at junior rank by part-time versus full-time status, controlling for gender, rank, track, years since first appointment as an assistant professor, and clinical productivity.

Results: Of the 119 physician faculty in the department, 112 met inclusion criteria. Among those 112 faculty, 23 (21%) were part-time and 89 (79%) were full-time faculty. Part-time faculty were more likely than full-time faculty to be women (74% versus 28%, P < .001) and married (100% versus 84%, P = .042). Analyses accounting for gender, years since first appointment, rank, clinical productivity, and track did not demonstrate significant differences in compensation by part-time versus full-time status. In other adjusted analyses, faculty with part-time appointments spent an average of 2.48 more years as an assistant professor than did faculty with full-time appointments.

Conclusions: Overall group differences in total compensation were not apparent in this department, but physician faculty with part-time appointments spent more time at the rank of assistant professor. This study provides a model for determining and analyzing compensation and effort to ensure equity and transparency across faculty.

Author Information

Ms. Darbar is department administrator, Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Emans is professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, and director, Office of Faculty Development, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Harris is associate professor of pediatrics and vice chair for academic affairs, Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Brown is Hugh Jackson Morgan Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, chair, and physician-in-chief, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Ms. Scott is a biostatistician, Department of Biostatistics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Cooper is professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine, vice chair for faculty affairs, and director, Office for Faculty Development, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Cooper, 1313 21st Avenue South, Suite 313, Nashville, TN 37232-4313; telephone: (615) 936-2430; fax: (615) 343-6249; e-mail:

First published online June 20, 2011

© 2011 Association of American Medical Colleges