Monday, June 17, 2013

Associate Professors: Stressed Out and Depressed

Here is a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on why associate professors are so depressed. Having risen through the ranks of assistant professor, to associate professor and then to full professor of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, I am familiar with the promotion and tenure process.

The article highlights the stresses of academic life post tenure, following the promotion to associate professor. At the associate professor level, universities demand more service work, teaching, and  committee responsibilities. Associate professors are the workhorses of many institutions, typically resulting in less time for research and professional growth. Many  colleagues and faculty are intensely competitive,  thereby making the work environment unpleasant. The path from associate professor to full professor seems interminable.The result: a mid career crisis.

I fortunately did not experience the associate professor malaise. Perhaps it is because I have such close friends, colleagues and mentors at Virginia Commonwealth University. My viewpoint may also differ from that of a non-physician faculty member. The care of seriously ill, hospitalized patients along with our ongoing, central american relief work, provides me with a perspective on suffering that makes my academic concerns far less weighty. 

It rings cliché, but stress is in the eye of the beholder.

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