In 2012, Indiana University School of Medicine participated in a national awards competition sponsored by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation—The Sloan Awards for Faculty Career Flexibility—in collaboration with the American Council on Education (ACE). In order to be considered for the award, each participating institution administered a survey gauging faculty understanding and experiences related to institutional work-life policies. Survey items were grouped into flexibility categories:
- Support for managing work and personal/family responsibilities.
- Partial relief from faculty duties for family care and personal disability with consistent/reduced pay.
- Extension of time for review for promotion and tenure.
- Full leaves for biological and adoptive mothers and fathers.
- Full leaves for personal disability not related to childbirth.
- Part-time appointments with proportional pay.
- Career satisfaction.
What We Learned
One area of opportunity for us was in the Indiana University Health physicians benefits package, which included no paid family leave. The Women’s Advisory Council’s subgroup on work-life policies convened a meeting with IU Health representatives and formed a focus group to study the issue. The focus group evaluated and compared the IU Health benefits to those of comparable practice plans and based on that information, a policy for paid maternity leave was drafted, revised, and approved in 2011. Additional areas of opportunity were identified in communication and education about institutional policies; increased support for flexibility in the practice plan; support for dependent caregiving demands; and part-time and senior faculty engagement. As a result of this work, Indiana University School of Medicine was one of five schools in the United States to receive the $250,000 award to enhance promising practices for faculty career flexibility at their institution. This funding will be used to explore ways to engage senior and emeritus faculty, dual career hiring, and flexible scheduling options.