The Utility of Hybrid Promotion and Tenure Tracks for Dental School Faculty

The promotion and tenure process for faculty members varies, by design, for different disciplines, departments, and academic institutions. For many faculty members in U.S. dental schools, the process may thus appear nebulous and be difficult to navigate. In this article, we review the history, forces of change, and some of the mechanisms utilized for promotion and tenure of faculty in the health sciences, particularly for clinician-educators. Some institutions have successfully created hybrid tracks for clinician-educators in order to develop and recognize these faculty members’ scholarly activity in addition to their clinical teaching. Hybrid tracks empower faculty members to successfully perform scholarly activities that realistically reflect institutional missions. The authors of this article conclude with a number of practical suggestions to enhance development and retention of faculty using the hybrid promotion and tenure mechanism. These include demonstrating the congruence of institutional mission, faculty activities, and promotion and tenure guidelines; developing scholarly activities for clinician-educators that can be measured in the promotion and tenure process; rewarding scholarly achievement for clinician-educators utilizing the promotion and tenure mechanism; and developing an evaluation system that accounts for changes in mission and faculty activities.