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Academic Incentive Program

More and more academic departments in medical schools are appreciating the need to develop a systematic means of recognizing and rewarding teaching, research, and academic service (e.g., committee participation) comparable to the mechanisms in place for recognizing and rewarding clinical service contributions. In 2003 Williams et al described one such program in the Department of Surgery at SIU. The optimal medical school faculty compensation plan should have an ‘‘approach that complements and fosters the group’s mission, objectives, and corporate culture and is acceptable to and viewed as equitable by a large majority of the group’s physicians. Any faculty compensation plan should be congruent with and distribute resources in alignment with the organizational mission and goals and maintain balance among organizational activities and priorities. It also should also be transparent. From the faculty’s point of view, perceptions of acceptability and equity depend on (1) assurances that all significant individual contributions are systematically and accurately documented in a timely and open manner, and (2) the existence of a direct and systematic link between academic activities and recognition and rewards. In 1998, the Department of Surgery at SIU designed and introduced an academic incentive program intended to systematically and fairly document and reward all activities related to teaching, research, and service other than patient care. The goal was a system of rewards perceived by faculty to be clear and meaningful and matched to the stated departmental mission in the three traditional areas of academic-faculty activity. Originally the monetary rewards distributed were taken from the 10% of practice income returned to the department from the practice plan1. This was later changed to 5%. The pro- gram has been in continuous use in the department for fifteen years and has been refined annually with faculty input. Members of the clinical faculty enter their activities and are compensated on a quarterly basis. In addition to the financial compensation, the data entered in the program are used to inform decisions about faculty promotion and awards for both teaching and research.

The original codes have been published and an updated version is available on request from either Hilary Sanfey ) or Nicole Wilson


  1. Williams RG, Dunnington GL, Folse JR. The impact of a program for systematically recognizing and rewarding academic performance. Acad Med 2003; 78:156-62.
  2. Levine J. Compensation models and issues for a multispecialty group practice. J Ambulatory Care Manage. 1996 ;19 (3): 50-9