Clinical Track


Physician with young patient

The Clinical Track began in 1986 and actively contributes to the clinical and teaching missions of the Medical School, as well as scholarship and administration. The ranks are instructor through professor. Although there is no mandated ascension in rank, ascent to senior level titles requires scholarly engagement and productivity, as well as excellence in health care and teaching.

The Clinical Track is unique because faculty members on this track have very different jobs with a varying degree of involvement in clinical care, teaching, research and service.

Aspects of Clinical Track Faculty Work

  • Some clinician educators have an emphasis on teaching, and may also take a role in administration (e.g. Residency Directors or Medical Student Directors).
  • Some Clinical Track faculty have grant funding and spend most of their time in research, where they also teach and mentor.
  • Some Clinical Track faculty oversee key administrative functions, e.g. division directors or those who run clinical programs in conjunction with providing care.

Appointment Packet Checklists & Sample Documents

Rank Descriptions

Clinical Instructor: A Clinical Instructor is fully trained to provide clinical care and is qualified to participate in educational programs at the University of Michigan Medical School. Appointment to this rank requires evidence that the individual has received an appropriate medical and graduate medical education and documentation of full clinical competence. Certification by the relevant professional board must be pending or completed, recognizing that exceptions for some internationally trained physicians may be granted by the Medical School. Evidence of competence in clinical and didactic teaching is expected. Letters from individuals with firsthand knowledge of the candidate are helpful in documenting the candidate’s clinical competency, suitability for an academic medical  environment, potential as a teacher and clinical role model, and potential for growth in clinical and scholarly areas. Publications in a candidate’s professional field are encouraged but not required.

Instructor appointments are made by the department chair or unit head, within the constraints of University appointment procedures, and must be approved by the Assistant Dean for Clinical Track Faculty. 

Clinical Assistant Professor: A Clinical Assistant Professor has excelled in clinical care and teaching, and these are the primary requirements for appointment or promotion to this rank.

  • Clinical work: Clinical excellence is documented by letters, which may be from local sources and must attest to the quality of clinical service. Certification by a relevant professional board or the equivalent is a usual expectation at this rank, although this qualification may be in progress at the time of appointment according to the requirements of the relevant professional board; exceptions for some internationally trained physicians may be granted by the Medical School.
  • Teaching: Quality of teaching is usually documented by objective teaching evaluations from the learner groups that are being taught (medical students, residents, fellows, undergraduate and graduate students as well as peer education), letters, and awards. If the candidate comes from an outside institution, letters describing the teaching efforts and quality are required.
  • Scholarship: An Assistant Professor should show progress toward becoming scholarly engaged in their field. On the Clinical Track, invited presentations as well as publication of articles in professional journals, chapters, reviews, abstracts, textbooks, videotapes, or other educational materials are evidence of scholarly contributions and are usual features of faculty at this rank.
  • Service: The candidate's organizational service, if present, to his or her department should be documented. For faculty members with predominantly clinical effort, several years of postgraduate clinical experience (post residency or post fellowship) combined with excellent teaching evaluations may qualify for promotion or appointment at this level, although some evidence of scholarly contribution is generally expected as noted above. New faculty members with evidence of distinct clinical expertise may also be appointed at this level.

Appointments and promotions to assistant professor require review by the Advisory Committee on Clinical Track Appointments and Promotions (CLINACAP) and approval by the Medical School Executive Committee.

Clinical Associate Professor: A Clinical Associate Professor has excelled in teaching and clinical work, and has achieved a regional or national reputation in his or her area of expertise. Peer-reviewed published scholarship and service to the institution, regional or national organizations is expected. The Associate Professor signals the passage into medical academia’s senior rank. Individuals at this rank are expected to be role models of collegiality, integrity, scholarship, and excellence in their professions. Typically, a reputation of this sort is documented by letters from impartial external sources.

  • Clinical work: As an Associate Professor on the clinical track, development as a clinician has progressed to the point of establishing broad interdepartmental and regional recognition by professional colleagues for clinical expertise. This is usually documented in letters from colleagues and peers who attest to the clinical excellence. Appointment or promotion to this rank requires board certification or the equivalent (although occasional exceptions for some internationally trained physicians may be granted by the Medical School).
  • Teaching: Evidence of continued valuable contribution to medical education is expected. This may be through customary teaching situations (lectures, clinical instruction of students and residents, mentorship pairing, or scholarly work with trainees including formal evaluations to assess quality) or through the preparation of educational materials, including educational brochures and learning aids, textbook chapters, reviews, videotapes, web based learning, and other instructional interfaces. Teaching evaluations from all learner groups should be available. Administration and organization of teaching programs are also valued activities, and creativity in their execution can be documented by letters from appropriate knowledgeable faculty, students, and peers.
  • Scholarship: The candidate should have produced scholarship that influences knowledge and/or clinical care. Scholarship should include peer-reviewed papers, but may also include books, book or web based chapters, or some other mode of communicating results and ideas.
  • Service: Administration or leadership at the school level or at local, regional, or national organizations are a typical feature of this rank.

Appointments and promotions to associate professor require review by CLINACAP; approval by the Medical School Executive Committee; endorsement by the Dean, the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the President.

Clinical Professor: Appointment and promotion to this highest rank in the Clinical Track requires continued outstanding teaching, mentoring and clinical service. A national reputation is expected in scholarship, research or teaching. A Clinical Professor has many products of their scholarly activity and will have a substantial record of first-author and/or senior-author publications in peer-reviewed journalsthat have resulted in broad peer recognition in their area of expertise. Service in regional or national specialty societies or boards is the norm. Institutional citizenship is expected of a Senior Clinical Faculty.

Appointments and promotions to professor require review by CLINACAP; approval by the Medical School Executive Committee; endorsement by the Dean, the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the President.