Leadership of United States Academic Departments of Ophthalmology: Chairperson Characteristics, Accomplishments, and Personal Insights

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American journal of ophthalmology


PURPOSE: To report on the characteristics, accomplishments, and past experiences of current academic ophthalmology department chairs.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

METHODS: Setting: A confidential online survey.

STUDY POPULATION: Total of 111 chairs of US academic ophthalmology departments.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Chairs' general characteristics, training/former positions held, academic accomplishments, previous organization/committee involvement, motivation/insight, and overall work satisfaction.

RESULTS: Fifty-five chair responses were received (96% male, mean age 57 years, mean term 7 years). The majority were American medical graduates (93%), full professors of ophthalmology (93%), and permanent chairs (96%). All completed their residency in the US and 96% completed a fellowship (25% vitreoretinal surgery, 22% cornea and external disease, and 20% glaucoma). On average, chairs authored 98 peer-reviewed articles, 2 books, and 11 book chapters. They were also significantly involved in peer-reviewed journal literature, serving as editors (20%), associate editors (18%), or editorial board members (60%). The majority of chairs indicated they decided to seek their position late in their career, having already become a full (33%) or associate professor (26%), primarily owing to a desire to build and promote an academic ophthalmology department (61%). Chairs regarded their experience as head of service as most important for their current performance as department heads. Their principal advice to aspiring ophthalmology chairs was to focus on developing skills as a clinician, researcher, and educator ("triple threat").

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, academic department chairs are accomplished leaders in ophthalmology and prolific authors with an established academic record. Chairs regarded their previous leadership roles within the department as invaluable to their effectiveness as chair.

Medical Subject Headings

Academic Medical Centers; Adult; Aged; Cross-Sectional Studies; Faculty, Medical; Female; Humans; Leadership; Male; Middle Aged; Motivation; Ophthalmology; Retrospective Studies; Surveys and Questionnaires; United States

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