The role of the chair's spouse in academic departments of family medicine.Fam Med. 1999 Jan; 31(1):34-8.FM
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES
Family medicine has the highest percentage of unfilled budgeted faculty positions of all clinical and basic science departments. To successfully recruit and retain academic leaders, personal and professional issues need to be recognized and valued. This study reports the results of a national survey of chairs and an important, often overlooked factor in recruitment and retention--the spouse of the department chair.
Questionnaires were sent to 107 chairs of academic departments or divisions of family medicine and their spouses.
There was a usable response rate of 86%, and data from 85 questionnaires (79%) were analyzed. The spouses' highest role priority was family, perhaps reflecting their relatively young mean age of 48.6 years. There was a statistically significant correlation between those who were "oriented" to the role of chair's spouse and a higher level of participation in departmental activities. Data are also reported on spouse role satisfaction, expectations, and factors in deciding to stay or leave their current location.
The results suggest that with the increased competition for family physicians in a multitude of practice settings, search committees for family medicine department chairs need to be innovative and attentive to personal as well as professional factors in recruiting and retaining future and current department chairs. It would be prudent to acknowledge the role of the spouse in decisions concerning job selection and satisfaction.