Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Register
Practical Tips for Promotion

Practical Tips for Promotion

Sponsored by the Faculty Development Committee

Click on the tip to view

Steps for Self-Preservation through the Promotions Process

Submitted by: Ingrid Fitz-James, MD (Assistant Professor, Montefiore Medical Center)

  • Promoting Self
  • Sustaining Self
  • Enhancing Self
  • Sustain Departmental and Others' Professional Interest in Your Subject of Choice by declaring Your Interest while remaining of service to others.
  • Remain informed about "new knowledge" regarding your Subject of Choice.

  1. "Carve Out a Place for Yourself" - Identify a subject of interest to you and to others, to which they may not want to dedicate the effort or time to become fully informed.
  2. "Aspire to New Plateaus" - Carve out regular time allotment to this pursuit, to arrive at conclusions and observations that "Stand the Test of Time."
  3. Make the pursuit of your subject in parts and elements that can be woven in one single subject, "Don't get Boxed In," and weave together the multiple facets which you have pursued over time. "Reach Deep" across Multiple Disciplines to be informed about the Application of "new knowledge" to your Subject of Choice. "Listen to the Voice of the Wind." Explore the conclusions reached by other disciplines about the subject.
  4. Do not be like everyone else, develop your own style. "It's OK to be a Little of the Wall" but do not be “Off the Wall." Remain factual in content and accurately referenced with respect to your sources.
  5. Dedicate care to a few presentations in terms of depth so that evolution into a National Presentation is an attainable goal.

The italicized quotations, referenced with deference, originated from a circular of the Sierra Club, a steward of environmental protection, under the heading ”Advice from a CANYON;”

Maintain a teaching portfolio in conjunction with your CV

Submitted by: Bryan Mahoney, MD (Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and West Hospitals)

For a physician educator, a teaching portfolio allows you to place your educational accomplishments in the best possible light.

Essential components of your teaching portfolio should include:

  • A statement of your Educational Philosophy
  • Clinician Educator portfolio:
    • Educational Curricula Designed, Implemented, and Instructed (includes the program, audience, teaching site, duration, frequency, your role, and the overall planning time)
    • Teaching Activity Report (a list of lectures, small groups, grand rounds, clinical teaching within your home institution and evaluations of these sessions)
    • Educational Administration & Leadership (roles within your institution and program)
    • National & International Scholarship in Education (a brief statement of your areas of educational expertise followed by invited lectures and presentations or talks at national and international conferences)
    • Educational Materials with National & International Impact (materials you have created and shared organized in an appendix)
    • Advising & Mentoring (a list of mentees with testimonials from mentees or evaluations of your teaching or mentoring)
    • Honors & Awards in Education

If you have served in a significant education role (Program Director, Vice-Chair of Education), create an additional section cataloguing the accomplishments you achieved within that role.

Of course, if your institution already has a form for an Educational Portfolio, you will need to incorporate these elements to conform to the available template.

Letters for promotion: think ahead, you will need them!

Submitted by: Jane Easdown, MDCM, MHPE (Professor of Anesthesiology, Vanderbilt University)

Look over your university policies for promotion to be sure you are in compliance with their instructions on this.

  • These letters might be internal or external to your healthcare system
  • These are individuals who know your work and can vouch for its quality and impact
  • Most of us give letter writers that we know personally a “heads up” in advance to determine that they are prepared and also that they will indeed support you

Internal Letters:

  • For clinical tracks, you will be asked to recommend colleagues from within your own healthcare system.
  • Some of these might be from colleagues in your own department. They might be surgical or medical colleagues if they know your work and can report on your contribution and impact
  • If you work with a nursing manager, administrator or QI committee then this might be an important person to add to the list
  • You might be asked to provide letters from mentees, former residents or fellows

External Letters:

  • Start thinking early in your career about what external organizations you might join and become active in
  • The work that you do for SEA, SPA, SOAP, etc. will be not only be enjoyable and instructive to your career, but will also allow you to make the contacts necessary to get those important outside letters.
  • Individuals that can write letters are committee chairs, board members, etc. They should know you because of your activity in meetings, on committees, article for newsletters, etc. Institutions often request that the letter writer not be a close collaborator. That might be a person you write articles with on a regular basis. Generally if you have done some work together, for example, a workshop one time, this is not a problem.


  • When you have received your long awaited and deserved promotion (can take up to a year!) please remember to let your letter writers know since they will not be informed by the promotion committee. They will really want to know and celebrate your success!

All publications are not equal! Know the hierarchy of the publications in your institution!

Submitted by: Tracey Straker, MD, MS, MPH, CBA, FASA (Professor of Anesthesiology)

  • Do manuscripts have to be Pub Med cited?
  • Is a manuscript weighted the same as book chapter? Or a case report?
  • Does placement of my name on a publication matter?
  • Are web based open access journals weighted the same as traditional journals?
  • Should everything I publish be peer reviewed?

These are all questions that you should know the answers to when “writing for promotion.”

Remember work hard, but work smart!

Determine Your True Reason(s) for Wanting Promotion

Submitted by: David Young MD, MEd, MBA, FASA (Full Professor)

Ascertain your real purpose for wanting promotion. Once these reason(s) are determined, you can then make an educated decision on the time and effort required in order to complete this comprehensive process. Surprisingly, not all people inspiring academic promotion mostly want this only for the self-fulfilling aspects.

If one were to deeply consider their motives for wanting promotion, they may realize that the most important part of receiving promotion is NOT the actual promotion but the following:

  • Financial benefits (i.e. pay raise)
  • Institutional benefits (i.e. college reimbursement for associate professor and higher)
  • Tenure (i.e. limited protection against termination)
  • Leadership positions (i.e. Chief or Chair positions only given to advanced ranks)
  • Future interests (i.e. more marketable if higher rank)

Many of these alternative reasons can also be obtained by other methods. In addition, many of these reasons are institutional dependent.

Reverse Mentoring

Submitted by: Tracey Straker, MD, MS, MPH, CBA, FASA (Professor of Anesthesiology)

  • Consider a “reverse mentoring“ situation.
  • Reverse mentoring is a mentoring relationship based on reciprocity between a senior faculty and a junior faculty.
  • The senior faculty may mentor you in navigating the promotional process, and you can reciprocate by mentoring the senior faculty in areas that may be deficient such as social media and technology.

Basic Facts

Submitted by: Michael C. Lewis, MD, FASA (Professor and Chairman, Henry Ford Anesthesia Department)

  • Learn the Language: read and reread the rules for promotion at your home institution. Make a check list and timeline based on these rules.
  • Create a Narrative: If you are applying for promotion from Associate to Professor you should be able to tell the story of your career. If your institution allows it, create a portfolio documenting your achievements. It should be accompanied by an Executive Summary.
  • Make Sure that Folks on the Promotion Committee Know Who You Are. This simple exercise can be very helpful. When individuals have an ‘emotional’ attachment to a name (hopefully good) they may argue your case much more effectively.
  • Be Nice to Administrators: They mediate all information flow in a University. Including everything concerned with advancement. They need your respect.
  • Have a list of Potential References from outside institutions that you can provide to your chair.

Utilize the Business Field

Submitted by: Isaac Chu, MD (Assistant Clinical Professor, Keck School of Medicine)

  • Promotional opportunities and administrative responsibilities are an important part of any academic department.
  • Few of us are well educated in the field of business, which has a tremendous amount of resources devoted to these topics.
  • Adam Grant, a renowned professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, writes on topics involving collaboration, networking, and organization- all useful topics in the journey for academic promotion.

Keep Records

Submitted by: Regina Fragneto, MD (Professor of Anesthesiology, University of Kentucky College of Medicine)

Keep a record of every presentation, resident lecture and other academic activity as you actually do it. Trying to remember all your educational activities as you are putting together your teaching portfolio for promotion is painful!


Submitted by: Shamanatha Reddy, MD (Assistant Professor, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY)

There will be many of your colleagues working towards promotion also. Work together with them. It is not a race against each other. It is a team work. Work together on publications, put together a panel for a meeting, collaborate on a joint Grand rounds with another service. Collaboration may make the journey shorter and less painful. This process is like candle light. Use your candle to light someone else’s candle it doesn’t in any way make yours darker. It will brighten the environment.

Make academic connections outside your department but within your institution.

Submitted by: Gary E. Loyd MD, MMM (Director Perioperative Surgical Home, Henry Ford Health System, Clinical Professor, Wayne State University)

Make academic connections outside your department but within your institution. People have to know who you are.

Get a Copy of the Promotion and Tenure Policy Manual of Your Institution

Submitted by: Michael Lewis MD (Professor and Chairman, Henry Ford Anesthesia Department)

  • Know when you become eligible for the application for promotion/tenure and what the criteria are.
  • Understand the promotion process. Take the time to read and understand the faculty handbook's description of the criteria for academic promotion. Somewhere in the bowels of your institutions published documents there will be a dull and lengthy document setting how the process, criteria and timelines for academic promotion.
  • Create a checklist based on the described criteria. Demonstrate leadership and achievement in a range of fields such as teaching, research, and university governance.
  • Secure support both internal and external support for your application. Letters will be sought to support your application.
  • Chat with those who have been through the process. You can garner invaluable tips.

Work on Building and/or Maintaining a Relationship With your Chair Throughout Your Career, Especially at the Beginning.

Submitted by: Issac Chu MD (Assistant Clinical Professor)

Often when academic anesthesiologists start their careers, they are simply trying to learn how to manage their clinical and academic work while staying under the radar. This usually means that they only speak to the Chair when they have a request, or worse, need to be reprimanded. This relationship makes it extremely difficult for a Chair to support that faculty member, since there is no basis for a positive relationship. It is difficult to succeed in a department without knowing the Chair's expectations. I recommend scheduling meetings with the Chair and/or discuss casually new project ideas so that the Chair may give the faculty member input and build a collaborative relationship.

Join a Hospital Committee

Submitted by: Michal Gajewski DO (Assistant Professor)

This allows you to get involved in hospital policy making and it introduces you to other likeminded individuals. The added benefit is that you will meet faculty outside of your own department which could give you a different perspective on several issues. This then allows you to bring some of those views back to your department to implement change. Most importantly it lets your Chair know that you want to play a more prominent role and that you are motivated.

Learn the Process for YOUR Institution

Submitted by: David Young MD, MEd, MBA, FASA (Full Professor)

Every institution has a specific process and policy for academic advancement and may greatly differ among institutions.

Early in your promotion process, identify the relevant details for YOUR institution to help plan your career trajectory effectively.

The relevant promotion details will likely address topics such as:

  • Recommended timeline
  • Curriculum vitae format
  • Publication requirements [if any]
  • Reference letter requirements
  • Items valued in the promotion criteria [as well as items not highly valued]
  • Process for promotion
  • Requirement for departmental internal promotions committee approval [if any]
  • Service requirements to the institution [if any]

External Letters – How to Get Them!

Submitted by: Tracey Straker, MD, MS, MPH, FASA (Full Professor)

You most probably will have to get letters of recommendation from faculty outside your institution. These letters should be written by someone who is familiar with your work. This can be a daunting task for junior faculty –it certainly was for me! Approach it strategically and start early!

  • Your local state anesthesia society can be a gold mine – give a lecture for one of the meetings.
  • Join the society of a subspecialty or a niche in anesthesia that you are interested in. Often times these societies are significantly smaller and more intimate than the larger societies. It may be easier to become involved and get to know people.
  • If you have colleagues at other institutions, try to give Grand Rounds at these outside institutions.
  • Get to know one or two medical students well – mentor them in producing a poster or an abstract.
  • Try to collaborate on a project with a colleague in another institution or another service. An example of this is writing a book chapter with colleague in another institution – it does not have to be an anesthesia colleague – it could be a surgeon.

Think creatively!



The SEA is proud to be a member-driven organization, dedicated to the teaching and development of future anesthesiologists, and to the advancement of those who educate them.

Contact Info:

Society for Education in Anesthesia
6737 W. Washington St, Suite 4210 • Milwaukee, WI 53214 • (414) 389-8614