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Embrace the Challenge: Advice for Current and Prospective Department Chairs

Sheldon, George F. MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318294fe01

In this issue, Kastor discusses the challenges and responsibilities of a contemporary chair of medicine as described in interviews of 44 chairs. As a chair of surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 17 years, the author of this commentary uses his own experiences to reflect on how the insights presented in Kastor’s commentary can apply to department chairs in other specialties. Elements from Kastor’s commentary, as well as additional observations from the author’s tenure, may be sources of advice to future chairs of any department. The author concludes that, despite a changing health care environment and other significant leadership challenges, being a department chair is a rewarding job with many opportunities to pursue worthwhile objectives.

Dr. Sheldon is Zack D. Owens Distinguished Professor of Surgery and Chair Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Sheldon, 4006 Burnett-Womack Bldg., CB #7050, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7050; e-mail:

© 2013 by the Association of American Medical Colleges