The average age of full-time faculty members at U.S. medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education was 49.5 in 2017, yet the academic medicine community knows little about late-career faculty. The authors sought to characterize full-time faculty members 55 or older and assess their work–life expectations.
The authors conducted a survey (May–September 2017) of faculty 55+ at 14 U.S. medical schools.
Of the 5,204 faculty members invited, 2,126 (40.8%) responded. The average age of respondents was 62.3, and among those responding to the relevant questions, most identified as male (1,425; 67.2%), white (1,841; 88.3%), and married/partnered (1,803; 85.5%). Fewer than half (915; 45.2%) indicated they had begun thinking about full-time retirement, estimating that they would do so at a mean age of 67.8 (standard deviation = 4.3). Half the respondents (1,004; 50.0%) would consider moving to part-time status. The top 3 personal factors likely to affect retirement decisions were health, postretirement plans, and spouse’s/partner’s plans. The top 3 professional factors were phased retirement or part-time options, changes in institutional leadership, and presence of a successor. Faculty indicated that they would, post retirement, be interested in ongoing work in teaching/education and research/scholarship and that they wanted health insurance, email, and part-time teaching opportunities.
U.S. medical schools employ a rapidly aging workforce. These data indicate that neither faculty members nor institutions are prepared. Faculty affairs and develop ment leaders should champion efforts to engage with late-career faculty to prepare for this changing landscape.