Residency Program. Then I was invited to
join the School of Medicine’s curriculum
committee and lead their professionalism subcommittee. Based on my work
in family medicine, I led the creation of
a four-year longitudinal professionalism
curriculum for medical students. This
was work outside of my responsibilities
as a professor. I have always believed it is
important to volunteer and get involved.
Fortunately, my department chair was
supportive. Through all of this, I began to
know people and develop relationships,
which eventually led to my current role.
How did you find out about the job?
It became clear to the dean of the School
of Medicine that we needed an office
of faculty affairs. We had hundreds
of faculty members who did not have
centralized processes managing their
initial employment, faculty appointments, onboarding/orientation, academic
advancement, annual evaluations and
terminations. Historically, medical
schools haven’t had an office dedicated to
overseeing the faculty experience, which
can lead to higher attrition and turnover
rates. The dean of the medical school and
the associate dean of academic affairs
asked if I would be interested in the
position. They had witnessed my communication, analytical and organizational
skills through the work I’d done on committees and boards. In 2009, I became
the associate dean for faculty affairs for
the School of Medicine, and in 2014, my
What do you do as chief
faculty affairs officer?
I oversee faculty support for the schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, health-related profes- sions and population health. I think about things from a fac- ulty life-cycle perspective, which
encompasses early and late career issues.
How do we attract high-caliber faculty?
How do we bring them successfully into
the organization? What development
opportunities do we create for them?
We have more than 1,200 faculty
members, and one of the things I’ve
focused on is recruiting talented and
future-oriented leaders. Hiring top-notch
deans, directors and department chairs is
a very effective way to support our faculty
because they have a significant impact on
the people they are managing.
How do you use your psychology
Overseeing faculty is all about human
behavior, and being a psychologist has
prepared me perfectly to lead an enterprise like this. I have to know how to
manage conflict, have difficult conversations and use evidence-based approaches
that incorporate the most current and
valid research results available on concepts such as engagement, satisfaction
Every two years, we ask the fac-
ulty to evaluate their satisfaction and
engagement, and based on those results
we coordinate adjustments to our organi-
zation. I look at systems that are affecting
our faculty and work with leaders to cre-
ate a more satisfying environment. One
year, for example, we learned that only
34 percent of the faculty were satisfied
with the promotion and tenure process.
They felt that the process was unclear. In
response, we created department promotion and tenure committees that raised
awareness about the process. We also
changed the way department chairs learn
who is coming up for tenure. Now 78
percent of the faculty are satisfied with
the promotion and tenure process.
Where did you get the training and
experience needed for your job?
I started as an assistant professor in the
department of family medicine in 1995,
and within a few years I was invited to
join the campus human research institutional review board. I did this for six
years, during which time I also created
the professionalism and communications curricula for the Family Medicine
How Did You Get That Job?
RETAINING TOP TALENT
As chief of faculty affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical
Center, Patrick Smith uses his psychological expertise to find
the best employees and keep them happy and engaged
BY HEATHER STRINGER
“Our small office is
able to support the
people who are doing
phenomenal work to
make an impact on
three million people