Clinical Track Pathways

Clinical Track: Criteria

  1. Appointment and promotion criteria should be consistent with recognized and respected national standards that are similar to peer institutions. 
  2. As part of the University of Michigan, the Medical School will continue to use a single “clinical track” but will recognize that there are multiple pathways for appointment/promotion within this track.  Pathway identification is required for appointment/promotion to clinical associate professor. Clinical assistant professors should choose their pathway when they have a defined area of focus.
  3. All clinical track appointment and promotions should recognize the achievements of individuals who have demonstrated:
    1. Excellence in clinical work; and
    2. Significant contributions to their field or profession in scholarship, education, research, quality improvement, service, or a combination of these at the appropriate level, as designated for each specialty area and rank
  4. In recognition of the changing nature of academic medicine, a broadened range of activities has been designated as counting toward fulfilling the requirements for appointment or promotion, as summarized below.

Demonstrating Clinical Excellence in the Clinical Track

Clinical excellence is expected from anyone who comes up for an academic promotion. Personal metrics are used by departments for determining clinical excellence and competence in annual faculty evaluations, including national and professional standards for quality and safety of care. These standards vary by specialty and the department will attest to the clinical excellence in detail in the Chair’s transmittal letter of the promotion packet.  In certain circumstances letters attesting to a candidate’s provision of outstanding clinical care may be submitted from clinicians within or outside of the University.

Demonstrating Teaching Excellence in the Clinical Track

Excellence in teaching is required for promotion as documented by involvement in educational courses, didactic presentations, curricular planning, and other teaching activities that are summarized in the Educator’s Portfolio. Evaluation of teaching excellence is provided through supportive anonymous evaluations from learners, testimonials from past trainees, and/or letters of assessment from course directors and colleagues.

Demonstrating Service in the Clinical Track

To be considered for appointment or promotion, faculty members need to demonstrate service to the department, Medical School, University and/ or and the outside academic world. This may include committee work, grant reviews, peer review for journals, or other service or leadership activities. The faculty’s CV will describe these contributions. 

Demonstrating Professionalism and Citizenship in the Clinical Track

To be considered for promotion, faculty members must maintain competence in their disciplines and keep their credentialing and privileging status active.  They should remain up to date with clinical documentation and mandatory learning modules.  They must avoid conflict of interest and conflict of commitment to the University.  Faculty members should demonstrate collegiality in the workplace and respect for personal boundaries and diversity.   The department will attest to this in Chair's transmittal letter of the promotion packet. 

Demonstrating Scholarship in the Clinical Track

Scholarship is a required element for clinical track appointment and/or promotion in each of the pathways. While peer reviewed scientific journal publications are the traditional standard, other meaningful scholarly products are used in assessing overall scholarly contributions.  There is no absolute minimum requirement for scholarly products, as scholarship is viewed in the context of all the faculty’s accomplishments, their complete portfolio, and may vary individually. However, target numbers with adequate production in rank are listed in Table 1.

 Table 1 Clinical Scholarly Products

Different types of scholarly products can be considered in assessing overall scholarship, (see Table 2) and any combination of scholarly products can be used to meet the target for scholarship.

Clinical Track Pathways for Demonstrating Contributions to the Field

Several different pathways have been defined as areas of excellence for demonstrating contributions to the field. Clinical assistant professors should discuss the appropriate pathway to pursue with their Chair or Division Chief and mentors. The pathway is officially declared when a person is appointed or promoted to the level of clinical associate professor or clinical professor. It is possible to change pathways at any time if the faculty member’s primary activities shift to a different area.  The pathways are described below with lists of common activities and achievements. 

For all pathways, engagement and activities at a regional level are required for promotion to clinical associate professor, and at a national level for promotion to clinical professor.


Excellence demonstrated by:

  • Scholarly products
  • Teaching evaluations reflective of regional or national impact
  • Innovative teaching practices
  • Teaching course, curricula, module development
  • Participation in national educational guideline, policy development
  • Participation in national educational organizations (eg. AAMC, AMA, ACGME, ABMS) committees, task forces, work groups
  • Teaching of courses at state, regional or national meetings
  • Teaching through social media
  • Patient and community education
  • Creation and dissemination of innovative approaches to clinical care

Clinician-Research Scholar (translational science, clinical research, health services research)

Excellence demonstrated by:

  • Scholarly products
  • Research funding
  • Participation in grant reviews
  • Clinical trial development, patient recruitment, leadership of trial site
  • Participation in national research organizations, committees
  • Research consultancies with industry or other organizations
  • Participation in collaborative research
  • Presentations at regional and national meetings
  • Patents and intellectual property

Clinician-Patient Safety/Quality Innovator

Excellence demonstrated by:

  • Scholarly products
  • Outcomes and implementation science innovation
  • Development of professional quality guidelines and initiatives that have regional or national impact
  • Generation of performance data and performance goals through learning collaboratives
  • Development of best practices/innovative methods of care with dissemination
  • Patient safety/quality initiative leadership (eg. Lean projects)


Excellence demonstrated by:

  • Scholarly products
  • Leadership of regional or national organizations or key committees or boards
  • Consulting work with government organizations (eg. NIH, CDC, WHO)
  • Work with private foundations as consultant or other role
  • Community leadership activities on regional/national level
  • Outstanding service to a department, medical school, and/or the university that results in regional or national recognition


Excellence demonstrated by a combination of scholarship and other activities.  

This pathway should be utilized by faculty members whose activities span a number of areas – eg. Education, research, and administration; or Patient safety/quality innovator and education or research. A blended portfolio is developed that has significant achievements in more than one area.

Given the different areas of emphasis in the various pathways, some faculty members will have “asymmetric” qualifications for appointment and/or promotion, with strong achievement in some areas and less achievement in others. However, clinical excellence and a significant level of scholarship are required for appointment/promotion in the Clinical Track regardless of the chosen pathway.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Clinical Track

What is the purpose of the clinical track pathways?

The pathways are designed as a development tool to help faculty who want to focus their careers and to give examples and resources on how to do this. The pathways can serve as a way to design personal career goals and to be more creative by adding different components to your academic portfolio.

Does every faculty member on the clinical track have to “commit” to a certain pathway?

Yes, all clinical track faculty will be on a pathway. Because not everyone will fit into one of the four specialized pathways, there is an individualized path. This is a pathway that is not focused in one area, and could include teaching, service and scholarship.  The pathways are primarily designed as a development tool to help faculty focus their careers, with suggestions to help you become more successful.

Does the choice of pathway affect the chance or timing of promotion?

No, the choice of pathway does not affect the chance of promotion. It does not change the promotion criteria per se, although the promotion packet may contain different elements. For example, a clinician-research scholar usually will have a significant focus on scholarship and possibly grant funding, while there may be less or different teaching contributions. The average time for promotion remains 5-7 years, but is flexible, based on the entire portfolio and the faculty’s individual contributions. The timing for promotion is decided by the department, so that can be discussed at annual evaluations. 

I have been here for years and feel well-established in my career and career trajectory. Do I need to make any changes?

No, if your career is going well and your goals are in line with your and your department’s interests, there is nothing you need to change. However, you will have to identify the pathway that fits your career best. Remember that the pathways may help even well-established faculty look at new opportunities or determine what steps could support efforts to achieve promotion.

I am a newer faculty member, should I choose one of the pathways? 

Yes, everyone should identify the pathway that most fits their work and goals at Michigan Medicine. The pathways are designed as a development tool to help faculty focus their careers with resources to assist them to be successful. Discuss your interests with your mentor or departmental leadership, so you can start working toward your career goals. If your goals don’t fit well into one of the pathways, the Individualized path might be your best choice.

There is a section in M-CV called “Clinical track scholarly contributions.” What belongs in that area?

A one paragraph narrative should be added under one heading in the CV. This section can also be used to provide details on items.  More extensive information will go into the clinical scholarly portfolio.

This area is designed on the M-CV so that non-traditional scholarly contributions that may not fit well under the traditional components of the bibliography section can be described here. All peer-reviewed publications, chapters and abstracts still belong in the bibliography section, but this M-CV section can be used to describe specific contributions.

What is considered scholarship in the appointment and promotion process for clinical track faculty?

In addition to the traditional peer-reviewed publications, chapters, review articles, Up-to-Date articles, and clinical guidelines that are published locally are all included within the category of scholarship. Other products of scholarly activities will be considered as part of the scholarly appointment and a new table with specific information can be found in the Demonstrating Scholarship section above.

Can I switch pathways and do I need to notify anyone?

You can certainly switch pathways. The pathways are not designed to be static and often a faculty member starts out with an idea of what their career will look like and then after a few years, find out there are other things that they really shine in or that are of new interest to them. Discuss with your mentor to see what options there are within the department to change your career focus. Outside the department you do not need to notify anyone. Remember the pathways are a tool to use to help with making career decisions and focusing efforts.