UMMS Affiliation

School of Medicine; Department of Pediatrics

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Health and Medical Administration | Medical Education


PURPOSE: We sought to evaluate common leadership experiences and academic achievements obtained by current U.S. Medical School Deans of Medicine (DOMs) prior to their first appointment as Dean in order to elucidate a common pathway for promotion.

METHODS: In April-June 2019 the authors requested a curriculum vitae from each of the 153 LCME-accredited U.S. Medical School DOMs. The authors abstracted data on prior appointments, demographics, and achievements from CVs and online databases. Differences by gender and institutional rank were then evaluated by the Fisher's exact and Wilcoxon rank sum tests.

RESULTS: CVs were obtained for 62% of DOMs (95 of 153), with women comprising 16% of the responding cohort (15/95). Prior to appointment as DOM, 34% of respondents had served as both permanent Department Chair and Associate Dean, 39% as permanent Department Chair but not Associate Dean, and 17% as Associate Deans but not permanent Department Chair. There was a non-significant trend for men to have been more likely to have been a permanent Department Chair (76% vs 53%, p = 0.11) and less likely to have been an Associate Dean (48% vs 67%, p = 0.26) compared to women. Responding DOMs at Top-25 research institutions were mostly male (15/16), more likely to have been appointed before 2010 (38% vs 14%, p = 0.025), and had higher H-indices (mean (SD): 73.1 (32.3) vs 33.5 (22.5), p < 0.01) than non-Top-25 Deans.

CONCLUSIONS: The most common pathway to DOM in this study cohort was prior service as Department Chair. This suggests that diversification among Department Chair positions or expansion of search criteria to seek leaders from pools other than Department Chairs may facilitate increased diversity, equity, and inclusion among DOM overall.


Medical education, Academic medicine, Careers, Critical care and emergency medicine, Schools, Sexual harassment, Surveys, Women's health

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Copyright: © 2021 Jacobson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

DOI of Published Version



Jacobson CE, Beeler WH, Griffith KA, Flotte TR, Byington CL, Jagsi R. Common pathways to Dean of Medicine at U.S. medical schools. PLoS One. 2021 Mar 25;16(3):e0249078. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0249078. PMID: 33765033; PMCID: PMC7993860. Link to article on publisher's site

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PloS ones

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.