To the Editor:
In the recent article “Hiring wisdom: Top 10 ways to guarantee your best people will quit,” Kleiman1 discusses major factors leading to employee attrition in business. As we reflected on the academic medical jobs we have had, as well as our research on underrepresented minorities in academic medicine, a striking similarity became apparent: Academic medicine is a business, and faculty members are employees.
Further similarities emerged as we examined some of the top 10 ways to guarantee people will quit:
* “Treat everyone equally” (#10). Employers should instead “strive for treating people fairly.”1 Minority faculty have cited “unfair treatment” as a major reason for leaving.2
* “Have dumb rules” (#8). Employees do not want rules that “conflict with the values the company says are important.”1 Minority faculty have observed that stated diversity goals are in direct conflict with some institutional practices.3
* “Don’t have any fun at work” (#6). Employers should “find ways to make the work environment more relaxed.”1 The climate at some academic medicine institutions has been described as hostile, or even racist.3 It is also clear that the diversity climate affects longevity of minority faculty.4
* “Don’t keep your people informed” (#5). Employers need to communicate “not only the good, but the bad and the ugly.”1 In one example of poor communication, minority faculty, and faculty in general, have found the promotions process to be biased, with nonminority faculty promoted more often.5
* “Don’t develop an employee retention strategy” (#3). Employers should “write down what [they] are doing or will do to ensure [employees stay] engaged.”1 Minority faculty development programs, though still relatively rare, have improved retention rates in this group6 and could be an effective retention strategy.
Academic medicine engages in 60% of Kleiman’s top 10 ways to guarantee the best people will quit. Perhaps it is time for us to learn from our colleagues in human resources and make small changes to reverse the high attrition of minority faculty in our field.
José E. Rodríguez, MD
Associate professor and codirector, Center for Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Medicine, Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, Florida; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kendall M. Campbell, MD
Associate professor and codirector, Center for Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Medicine, Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, Florida.
2. Cropsey KL, Masho SW, Shiang R, Sikka V, Kornstein SG, Hampton CLCommittee on the Status of Women and Minorities, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Medical College of Virginia Campus. . Why do faculty leave? Reasons for attrition of women and minority faculty from a medical school: Four-year results. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2008;17:1111–1118
3. Pololi L, Cooper LA, Carr P. Race, disadvantage and faculty experiences in academic medicine. J Gen Intern Med. 2010;25:1363–1369
4. Price EG, Gozu A, Kern DE, et al The role of cultural diversity climate in recruitment, promotion, and retention of faculty in academic medicine. J Gen Intern Med. 2005;20:565–571
5. Nunez-Smith M, Ciarleglio MM, Sandoval-Schaefer T, et al Institutional variation in the promotion of racial/ethnic minority faculty at US medical schools. Am J Public Health. 2012;102:852–858
6. Daley S, Wingard DL, Reznik V. Improving the retention of underrepresented minority faculty in academic medicine. J Natl Med Assoc. 2006;98:1435–1440