Exploring dental faculty perceptions of current strategies and barriers to retention

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Journal of Dental Education


Purpose: The aims of the study were to identify perceived strategies for and barriers to faculty retention and examine differences regarding age, gender, and race. Methods: Cross-sectional data was captured from the eight author-affiliated dental schools. A Qualtrics survey was emailed to all faculty members at these institutions (1467 possible participants) between November 2021 and February 2022. The survey was formulated from best practices listed in the American Dental Education Association Faculty Diversity Toolkit. It consisted of 18 questions, including demographic information and faculty perceptions of their respective workplaces. These responses were then evaluated with descriptive statistics, Chi-squared analysis, Pearson Correlation, and Fleiss’ kappa. Results: The survey's response rate was 19.2%. There was no significant difference in perceived retention strategies across race, age, gender, practice tenure, practice type, or clinical versus tenure track. The top four barriers identified were inadequate financial compensation, workload, poor work environment, and burnout. There was a significant difference between racial groups and their perceived barrier of support for promotion (p = 0.048). This was more prevalent among clinical faculty (47.7%) than tenure track faculty (16.2%). The work environment was listed as a leading factor for both promoting retention and encouraging the exodus of faculty members. Conclusion: Strategies aimed at improving financial compensation, career recognition, and transparency of the promotion process, along with those aimed at improving the work environment were shown to be vital to retaining faculty. Though the low response rate is a study limitation, these findings provide valuable information and a framework for future studies regarding dental faculty recruitment and retention.

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