Leadership and management of academic anesthesiology departments in the United States

Berend Mets, Jennifer A. Galford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Study Objective: To characterize the approach of academic chairs of anesthesiology in leading and managing their departments, and to gain insights into what they considered the most difficult challenges as chairs. Design: Internet-based survey instrument conducted during July and August of 2006. Setting: Academic medical center. Measurements: Department chairs of 132 academic anesthesiology programs who were listed on the Society of Academic Anesthesiology Chairs Listserv, were surveyed. The overall number of respondents were reported. However, as all questions were voluntary, not all were answered by each respondent. Observations are therefore reported as absolute numbers and percentages on a question-by-question basis. Respondents were asked to rank responses to some questions in order of importance (eg, 1 = most important). These data are presented as rank ordered median values, determined by the Kruskal-Wallis Test. Significant differences between groups were determined by Dunn's post test. A P-value < 0.05 was regarded as significant throughout. Main Results: The overall response rate was 55%. Chairs spent 36% of their time in leading, managing, and administration. They ranked Visionary and Coaching styles of leadership as most important. Seventy-nine percent had developed "Vision" statements for the department and 64% of respondents had set goals for divisions. To communicate within departments, 74% of Chairs had at least monthly faculty meetings and 50% held at least yearly faculty retreats. Chairs preferred communicating contentious issues face to face. Ninety-five percent of Chairs held at least yearly performance appraisals and 85% had an established incentive system in the department. Academic productivity (73%) and clinical time (68%) were the most common components of the incentive system. In 65% of departments, Chairs delegated the program directorship and in 73%, the running of the National Residency Matching Program. The financial state of the department was shared at least annually in 93% of departments. In most departments (77%), faculty salary ranges were known but individual faculty salaries were not shared. Conclusions: Chairs considered the most important leadership challenge to be setting direction for the department, and the most difficult management challenges as "fostering research and scholarship" and "maintaining revenue to support faculty".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-93
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Anesthesia
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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