February 13, 2019

Dean's Message: Wage transparency and the effects of rapid growth

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Screen Shot 2019 02 13 at 9.09.31 AMDuring my recent State of the School address, I reviewed the progress and success that our school has experienced over the last five years. That advancement included a sharp increase of more than $100M in National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding as well as other research funding, the expansion of educational programming, and growth in clinical care numbers. Simultaneously, leadership has been confronted by the question, “How do we reward our most valuable assets—people—with the proper compensation as well as an environment that supports wellbeing?” I want to be transparent in discussing our dedication to ensuring that all School of Medicine employees are fairly paid and able to work in a healthy and uplifting environment.

As I mentioned in my address, bringing in NIH funds means needing more funds to support those dollars. According to estimations by the Association of American Medical Colleges, it takes $0.53 of institutional support for every NIH dollar. As we’ve grown by $100M—a huge feat in and of itself—it has also meant we’ve needed to increase our other fundraising efforts as well as the hospital’s financial support of the School of Medicine in order to maintain the status quo. As many of you know, the competition for large in-kind donations is fierce and unfortunately, our Medicare Wage Index, which drives much of the hospital’s bottom line, is one of the lowest in the country. That means that the payments we receive for treating patients on Medicare are substantially lower than the ones received by most of our peer institutions.

Thankfully, the School of Medicine, UABHS, and UAHSF are working together collaboratively to strengthen every aspect of our standing as one of the nation’s best academic medical centers. In fact, our collective approach to supporting all of our missions has fueled and enabled our current growth. Leaders from every arm of our enterprise will continue to work together to drive success with the ultimate goal of creating better health outcomes for all.

As an employee of the School of Medicine, you are deeply valued for the dedication you bring to our cause every day. Our goal, as it has been, is to make sure that we acknowledge employees’ efforts by continuing to become one of the best places in the country to work and serve our citizens. This not only includes how faculty and staff are compensated, but it’s also a commitment to creating an environment for wellness and overall success. As we move forward into even greater success at the School of Medicine, know that your impact is recognized, appreciated, and will be reflected in decisions made by leadership.