Faculty Vitality Survey©
What is faculty vitality?
The concept of faculty vitality has been discussed in higher education literature since the mid-1980s. Despite multiple studies in the last 25 years using a variety of proxy indicators (e.g., Baldwin, 1990; Bland, Seaquist, Pacala, Center & Finstad, 2002; Chan & Burton, 1995; Pololi, Conrad, Knight, & Carr, 2009; Woods, Reid, Arndt, Curtis, & Stritter, 1997), the concept is still imprecise and lacks a predictive model.
What is the Faculty Vitality Survey©?
Given these gaps in the literature, the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) Office of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development (OFAPD) began to develop an expanded model of faculty vitality in academic medicine and investigate it through comprehensive surveys in 2006, 2009, and 2011.
Our theoretical proposition is this:
Faculty vitality is the synergy between high levels of satisfaction, productivity, and engagement that enables the faculty member to maximize her/his professional success and achieve goals in concert with institutional goals. Faculty vitality is predicted by both individual and institutional factors.
Our goal is to better understand the experience of faculty in the health professions and ultimately work to improve the faculty experience. We are hopeful that by developing a global measure of faculty vitality, this can be accomplished.
Who takes the Faculty Vitality Survey©?
In 2011, over 2,000 faculty from nine schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, and allied health participated in the survey, including:
- Indiana University School of Dentistry
- Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
- Indiana University School of Medicine
- Indiana University School of Nursing
- Penn State University College of Medicine
- University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine
- University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine
- University of Iowa College of Nursing
- University of Kentucky College of Dentistry
Where can the results of the Faculty Vitality Survey© be found?
It has also been presented at meetings of the American Association of Medical Colleges Group on Faculty Affairs (AAMC GFA), the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), and the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education Conference (POD).
How is the Faculty Vitality Survey© funded?
In June of 2012, we were awarded a President’s Grant from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation to:
- Support the necessary infrastructure to expand our growing sample of multidisciplinary participants;
- Enable us to conduct focus groups of underrepresented minority and women faculty in partnership with organizations such as the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) and the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC);
- Allow us to make evidence-based recommendations regarding the recruitment, retention, and advancement of URM and women faculty by better understanding barriers and facilitators of vitality;
- Launch a biennial conference of participating institutions to convene at IU for collaboration on scholarly work, faculty development initiatives, and opportunities to support faculty.
In June of 2010, we received a grant from the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education (POD Network) to pilot the survey at a number of other institutions, in both medical schools and other health professions.
How is data from the Faculty Vitality Survey© used?
IUSM OFAPD is a national leader, not only in research on faculty vitality, but also in putting this research to use to improve the organizational context for faculty and yield institutional outcomes that matter. For example:
- The IUSM tenure probationary period was lengthened from seven to nine years, an initiative that is cited as a national exemplar of faculty policy reform.
- Executive recruitment practices were improved to align search and screen procedures around core leadership competencies.
- The number of new underrepresented minority faculty hired has increased significantly in recent years. Between 2000 and 2005, the average number of new underrepresented minority faculty hired per year was 4.8; since then, the average per year is 11.2.
- Similarly, the recruitment of women faculty has also increased sharply. Since 2006-2007, women have represented 39% of new faculty hires on average, with 46% as the highest proportion in a single year.
- Through advocacy by OFAPD and a subcommittee of the IUSM Women’s Advisory Council, a paid maternity leave policy was approved in the newly merged multi-specialty practice plan.
Thus, the Faculty Vitality Survey© is not simply an isolated research project. It is an essential element of systemic approach to faculty and organizational development. Results for the Vitality Survey provide rich data upon which change can be made.
Baldwin, R.G. (1990). Faculty vitality beyond the research university. Journal of Higher Education, 161(2), 160-180.
Bland, C.J., Seaquist, E., Pacala, J.T., Center, B.A., & Finstad, D. (2002). One school’s strategy to assess and improve the vitality of its faculty. Academic Medicine, 77(5), 368-376.
Chan, S.S., & Burton, J. (1995). Faculty vitality in the comprehensive university: changing context and concerns. Research in Higher Education, 36(2), 219-234.
Pololi, L., Conrad, P., Knight, S., & Carr, P.A. (2009). Study of the relational aspects of the culture of academic medicine. Academic Medicine, 84(1), 106–114.