Late-Career Expectations: A Survey of Full-Time Faculty Members Who Are 55 or Older at 14 U.S. Medical Schools

Kimberly A. Skarupski, Cheryl Welch, Valerie Dandar, Elza Mylona, Archana Chatterjee, Meenakshi Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose 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. Method The authors conducted a survey (May-September 2017) of faculty 55+ at 14 U.S. medical schools. Results 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. Conclusions 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-233
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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