Collaboration in academic medicine: Reflections on gender and advancement

P.L. Carr, L. Pololi, S. Knight, P. Conrad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Collaboration in academic medicine is encouraged, yet no one has studied the environment in which faculty collaborate. The authors investigated how faculty experienced collaboration and the institutional atmosphere for collaboration. Method: In 2007, as part of a qualitative study of faculty in five disparate U.S. medical schools, the authors interviewed 96 medical faculty at different career stages and in diverse specialties, with an oversampling of women, minorities, and generalists, regarding their perceptions and experiences of collaboration in academic medicine. Data analysis was inductive and driven by the grounded theory tradition. Results: Female faculty expressed enthusiasm about the potential and process of collaboration; male faculty were more likely to focus on outcomes. Senior faculty experienced a more collaborative environment than early career faculty, who faced numerous barriers to collaboration: the hierarchy of medical academe, advancement criteria, and the lack of infrastructure supportive of collaboration. Research faculty appreciated shared ideas, knowledge, resources, and the increased productivity that could result from collaboration, but they were acutely aware that advancement requires an independent body of work, which was a major deterrent to collaboration among early career faculty. Conclusions: Academic medicine faculty have differing views on the impact and benefits of collaboration. Early career faculty face concerning obstacles to collaboration. Female faculty seemed more appreciative of the process of collaboration, which may be of importance for transitioning to a more collaborative academic environment. A reevaluation of effective benchmarks for promotion of faculty is warranted to address the often exclusive reliance on individualistic achievement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1447-1453
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2009

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