Medical school receives grant to enhance faculty career flexibility​

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is one of five U.S. medical schools to receive a $250,000 Alfred P. Sloan Award for Faculty Career Flexibility.

The grant, sponsored by the American Council on Education and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, aims to further improve career flexibility for academic physicians and scientists.

The award recognizes and rewards medical schools that have adopted policies and practices to help faculty balance career and personal life and have crafted winning proposals for accelerating that balance.

“Young faculty today want more flexibility to juggle the demands of their careers with those of their personal lives,” says Larry J. Shapiro, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “We are grateful for the support of the American Council on Education and the Sloan Foundation, which will enable Washington University to address the unique work-life challenges faced by medical school faculty.”

As part of the grant, the medical school will develop a program in which peer mentors provide extra guidance and support to faculty starting families while in the early stages of their careers. The funding also will establish a team to train the peer mentors and faculty leaders to encourage career flexibility.


“It is clear that if the academic medical workforce of tomorrow is to be comprised of the best and the brightest, medical schools must provide a flexible platform that supports faculty,” says Diana Gray, MD, who led the team that applied for and received the grant on behalf of Washington University.

The medical school also plans to develop new policies, such as offering shared faculty positions on non-tenure faculty tracks, and will study the feasibility of allowing part-time status on the tenure track.

“Medical schools face unique challenges in retaining highly specialized faculty,” says Gray, associate dean for faculty affairs and professor of obstetrics and gynecology and radiology. “I hope this award speaks to our current faculty and future trainees and encourages them to build their careers here. We want to ensure that they are able to successfully integrate their careers with their personal lives.”

Two additional medical schools received $25,000 Sloan Innovation Awards.