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The Impact of a Junior Faculty Fellowship Award on Academic Advancement and Retention

Connelly, Maureen T. MD, MPH; Sullivan, Amy M. EdD; Chinchilla, Manuel MS; Dale, Margaret L. JD; Emans, S. Jean MD; Nadelson, Carol Cooperman MD; Notman, Malkah Tolpin MD; Tarbell, Nancy J. MD; Zigler, Corwin M. PhD; Shore, Eleanor G. MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001541
Research Reports

Purpose Academic faculty experience barriers to career development and promotion. In 1996, Harvard Medical School (HMS) initiated an intramural junior faculty fellowship to address these obstacles. The authors sought to understand whether receiving a fellowship was associated with more rapid academic promotion and retention.

Method Junior faculty fellowship recipients and all other instructor and assistant professors at HMS between 1996 and 2011 were identified. Using propensity score modeling, the authors created a matched comparison group for the fellowship recipients based on educational background, training, academic rank, department, hospital affiliation, and demographics. Time to promotion and time to leaving were assessed by Kaplan-Meier curves.

Results A total of 622 junior faculty received fellowships. Faculty who received fellowships while instructors (n = 480) had shorter times to promotion to assistant professor (P < .0001) and longer retention times (P < .0001) than matched controls. There were no significant differences in time to promotion for assistant professors who received fellowships (n = 142) compared with matched controls, but assistant professor fellowship recipients were significantly more likely to remain longer on the faculty (P = .0005). Women instructors advanced more quickly than matched controls, while male instructors’ rates of promotions did not differ.

Conclusions Fellowships to support junior faculty were associated with shorter times to promotion for instructors and more sustained faculty retention for both instructors and assistant professors. This suggests that relatively small amounts of funding early in faculty careers can play a critical role in supporting academic advancement and retention.

M.T. Connelly is assistant professor, Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, and dean for faculty affairs, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

A.M. Sullivan is assistant professor, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and director for education research, Academy at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

M. Chinchilla is programmer analyst, Office for Faculty Affairs, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

M.L. Dale is former dean for faculty and research integrity, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

S.J. Emans is Mary Ellen Avery Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, chief, Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, director, Office of Faculty Development, and Robert Masland Jr. Chair in Adolescent Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

C.C. Nadelson is professor, Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

M.T. Notman is clinical professor, Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

N.J. Tarbell is C.C. Wang Professor of Radiation Oncology, Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, and dean for academic and clinical affairs, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

C.M. Zigler is assistant professor, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.

E.G. Shore is senior consultant to the Office for Academic and Clinical Affairs and former dean for faculty affairs, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Funding/Support: The study was supported by the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, Harvard University.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: This study was approved by the Harvard Medical School institutional review board on June 28, 2011. Protocol number: M-11356.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policies of Harvard University.

Previous presentations: These data have only been presented internally at Harvard Medical School.

Correspondence should be addressed to Maureen T. Connelly, Harvard Medical School, 25 Shattuck St., Room 206, Boston, MA 02115; telephone: (617) 432-1106; e-mail:

© 2017 by the Association of American Medical Colleges