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In an effort to lure its physicians away from primary care and toward students, the University is giving them a raise. Harvard’s doctors, who now make as little as $30 per hour of teaching, will be paid $100 an hour starting July 1.
The move to increase funding for academic instruction reflects a push to make teaching as lucrative for doctors as treating patients, coming as Harvard Medical School revamps its curriculum to stress more faculty-student interaction.
The funding, which will increase from $8 million to $16 million, will be contributed mostly by Harvard University and Harvard Medical School (HMS), with an additional $3 million coming from Harvard’s three teaching hospitals—Mass. General, Brigham and Women’s, and Beth Israel Deaconess.
HMS officials said it would be the first time that the hospitals directly funded the teaching of medical students. In an e-mail to the faculty, HMS Dean Joseph B. Martin called the hospitals’ contribution “unprecedented.”
He also said that the plan would increase the partnership between the University, HMS, the hospitals, and the clinical departments.
Unlike most medical schools and their teaching hospitals, Harvard’s teaching hospitals function independently, paying their physicians’ salaries directly.
Mass. General President Peter L. Slavin ’79, who co-chaired the committee for developing the faculty teaching compensation plan, said that increased funding will better compensate physicians who devote time and energy to teaching.
“Financial pressures are often so great that physicians cannot easily take time out of their busy schedules treating patients,” Slavin said.
Harvard doctors’ current hourly pay for teaching is significantly less than the amount usually offered for a doctor’s services. The plan to increase pay to $100 an hour for teaching would be the pay of a primary care physician. The money will be distributed to individual HMS departments for integration into their local compensation systems.
The agreement comes as the medical school implements significant changes to its curriculum. According to HMS Executive Dean for Administration Cynthia L. Walker, the new plan will support those changes, which focus on developing more interactive relationships between students and faculty.
While the current expectation from HMS is that faculty members devote 50 hours to teaching or committee activities each year, Walker said the rule has not been strictly enforced. A new computer system was recently developed to keep track of the time faculty spend on academic activities. A separate committee is also evaluating the criteria for the role of teaching in career advancement.
“It’s important that we also reward teaching through non-financial means,” Slavin said. “Having a very accomplished research career is the traditional way of achieving a promotion, so we’re looking at ways to incentivize teaching with promotions.”
Clifford M. Marks contributed to the reporting of this story.
—Staff writer Anupriya Singhal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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