NEWS | September 24, 2012

UC Davis awarded for work-life balance practices for academic physicians


UC Davis School of Medicine received a $25,000 innovator award from the American Council on Education (ACE) and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support national efforts aimed at increasing career flexibility for faculty at medical schools nationwide. UC Davis is one of seven schools in the U.S. to receive an award at ACE's board of directors meeting in Washington, D.C. today.

Woman with elderly parent © iStockphoto Woman with elderly parent © iStockphoto

"Our colleagues at the Association of American Medical Colleges note that the United States is facing a looming crisis: a serious doctor shortage," said ACE Senior Vice President Gretchen M. Bataille. "If our medical schools aren't retaining the right faculty, then that shortage will only be exacerbated. These seven institutions are taking bold steps to keep the best and brightest teachers, which helps attract future doctors. We are grateful to the Sloan Foundation for their continued support of these efforts."

The award recognizes the School of Medicine for its innovative policies, practices and programs that foster work-life balance among faculty physicians and show promise as models for other medical schools nationwide. It also recognizes the importance of current studies funded by the National Institutes of Health under way at UC Davis that are evaluating attitudes, awareness and use of career-flexibility policies among faculty and their effect on careers in the biomedical sciences.

Faculty development leaders directing these studies include Lydia Howell, professor and chair of pathology and laboratory medicine, Amparo Villablanca, professor and Lazda Endowed Chair in Women's Cardiovascular Medicine, and Edward J. Callahan, associate dean for academic personnel and professor of family and community medicine.

"UC Davis has a long history of commitment to career flexibility and has pioneered a number of family-friendly policies for faculty at all stages in their careers," Howell said. "We have resources to inform and support medical school faculty as they strive to integrate and balance their professional careers with their personal, home, family and community lives. But we recognize that much more work still needs to be done to achieve a culture of flexibility for academic physicians. This innovator grant award will help us expand and improve policies at UC Davis and beyond."

The School of Medicine's career-flexibility policies support institutional efforts to hire and retain a first-rate team of innovative, dedicated and motivated scientists and physicians. These policies, which help faculty accommodate the dual commitments of home and career, cover a wide range of needs for leaves and flexible scheduling, including having or adopting children, spending more time with family, caring for aging parents or one's own illness or disability, and extending the time to achieve tenure.

"While our studies have shown that UC Davis faculty of both sexes and across generations know family-friendly policies exist, we identified high-risk groups -- younger men and older women -- who may be experiencing work-life balance challenges that we need to understand better so that we can meet their needs," Villablanca said.

Innovator grant award funds will be used to create workshops for faculty and school leaders to broaden acceptance of career flexibility and raise awareness of common work-life conflicts that reduce faculty satisfaction. It also will be used to raise awareness of unconscious biases such as the need for "face time," which may interfere with the use and effectiveness of existing flexibility policies, and to create new policies that meet the needs of high-risk faculty groups and the school's diverse faculty.

"By attracting and retaining the best of the best, these winning medical schools are able to put themselves on a path toward excellence," said Kathleen Christensen, program director, Alfred. P. Sloan Foundation. "They do this through targeted efforts to address the unique work/life challenges faced by faculty. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is proud to partner with ACE to honor these winners and is deeply appreciative of ACE's leadership on these issues."

The UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation's leading medical schools, recognized for its research and primary-care programs. The school offers fully accredited master's degree programs in public health and in informatics, and its combined M.D.-Ph.D. program is training the next generation of physician-scientists to conduct high-impact research and translate discoveries into better clinical care. Along with being a recognized leader in medical research, the school is committed to serving underserved communities and advancing rural health. For more information, visit UC Davis School of Medicine at

Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy. For more information, please visit or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation, its Working Longer program is expanding understanding of aging Americans' work patterns.