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Medicine (and Compensation) Matters: Part 4: (likely to be) Frequently Asked Questions

A model should be built on principles, but what are these principles? 

One critical principle is equal work for equal pay.

What does equal pay for equal work mean, precisely, and how would this principle be operationalized?

Equal pay for equal work means that faculty engaged in the same activities, with the same seniority status should expect substantially similar pay regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation. In contrast, equal pay for equal work does not suspend market realities, for example, that dictate different salaries across various specialties and subspecialties.

Another principle is that we are one department and that work in all the divisions is necessary for us to succeed in our missions. The compensation model will honor this principle by allowing all faculty, regardless of division or subspecialty, eligibility for productivity-triggered bonuses in years when the department generates an overall margin.

Finally, a core principle driving the development of the model is that the department values contributions in the areas of research, education, clinical care and scholarship.

We are committed to all our missions, so why is the financial compensation model focused on the cFTE? 

We chose to start with the cFTE for a number of reasons.

  1. cFTE is a widely used metric in academic medicine that is a reliable benchmark for productivity and a tool to compare our productivity to that of other academic faculty.
  2. Second, these features of the cFTE mean it can be used to determine and quantify a gap between clinical demand and supply, which does not directly affect individual compensation but is an important benefit of the model. This gap analysis provides a basis for determining when to grow clinical programs by hiring more faculty and for negotiating with our health system for necessary support.
  3. Third, the clinical revenue stream is taxed (by our department and school) and so contributes to funding for productivity bonuses and for mission-based needs that lack another revenue source (e.g. bridge funding, support for the NIH salary cap and some educational activities).

Clinically active faculty will have an RVU target based on their specialty and cFTE.  Depending on the financial health of our department, faculty who exceed their RVU target will be eligible for bonus compensation and salary increases. Faculty who miss consistently their target may be at risk for salary reduction, according to the rules of the Gold Book faculty manual.

Will the compensation model matter to faculty without clinical activities? 

The compensation model will apply to the entire faculty, but only clinically active faculty will have a cFTE and be eligible for clinical bonuses. Our intent is to first develop methodology for a clinical bonus.

In phase two of the model, faculty without clinical activities will be eligible for non-clinical bonuses based on metrics for success in extramural funding, education, licensing discoveries and other revenue-generating activities. The details for determining non-clinical bonuses will be developed by the departmental compensation committee in collaboration with the divisions.

How is the entire revenue and productivity portfolio determined for each faculty member? 

All sources of attributed revenue (e.g. extramural funding, licensing, endowments, medical directorships, teaching, billable patient care) will be compiled and compared to salary. Revenue from all sources will be converted to RVUs and compared against national benchmarks.

Ultimately, these data will be available on a searchable database that will be accessible online, so that faculty can track their progress against their targets.

What happens if I am not meeting my targets? 

Because faculty will be able to track progress at regular intervals, they will be better equipped to modulate their activities to meet targets. Faculty at risk for not meeting their targets will meet with their division directors or service chiefs and division administrators to determine the cause and to consider new opportunities to make their targets. The compensation model is expected to match salary with productivity in partnership with the personal goals of each faculty member.

Our goal is to provide each faculty member with an annual letter that provides clear information on their salary and progress in the compensation model to promote success in all our missions and to facilitate personal financial planning.

Who are the compensation committee members?

The selection of the committee has not yet begun but will commence after this summer’s faculty forums. Each division will be represented by division directors who will serve as ex-officio members.

How can I learn more?


Please check back next week (5/29) for Part 5: Next Steps & Summary


Mark Anderson