Frequently Asked Questions on Promotions
Q: Where can I find a good summary of HMS promotion criteria?
A: This guide, though dated 2008, is still valid and lays out the information briefly and clearly. The most recent version of the entire Harvard Medical School (HMS) handbook can be found here: HMS Faculty of Medicine Governance, Appointment and Promotion Handbook online.
Q: How do I decide on my Area of Excellence?
A: Your Area of Excellence (AoE) will be determined in consultation with your department head or his/her designee. It should represent your major area of achievement and impact, including a consideration of the quantity as well as quality of your contributions. Most often, MDs are considered under Clinical Expertise and Innovation criteria and PhDs under Investigation criteria. Candidates for Teaching and Educational Leadership need to demonstrate scholarship in the field of education.
For more information on HMS criteria for Areas of Excellence, follow this link: https://fa.hms.harvard.edu/promotion-profile-library.
Q: Can I select more than one Area of Excellence?
A: No. While HMS recognizes that faculty wear multiple professional hats and that the totality of their accomplishments should be factored into academic promotion decisions, faculty still need to have sufficient accomplishment in one AoE to move up the ladder.
For faculty who are significantly involved in—i.e., devoting substantial effort to another area of excellence—HMS recommends combining the AoE with the appropriate Significant Supporting Activity (SSA). The HMS expectation around the quality of a candidate’s accomplishment in their AoE, most notably scholarship, is unchanged regardless of whether they have 0, 1 or multiple SSAs, but the expectation around the quantity of accomplishment may be somewhat less for those who have at least one SSA, given that they spend a substantial fraction of their time on other activities. Consult with your department head on whether you qualify for one or more SSAs.
For more information on SSAs, follow this link: https://fa.hms.harvard.edu/promotion-profile-library.
Q: Do I need Significant Supporting Activities?
A: No. Not having an SSA is not considered a deficit.
Q: What if I don’t have many research investigations?
A: HMS broadly defines scholarship to include not only peer-reviewed publications but also educational materials, policy statements, assessment tools, and guidelines for patient care. Scholarship may be in print or alternative media. Consult with your department chair, the CFD, and HMS to understand what types of and how much scholarship you need given your promotion path.
Q: What if I am finding it challenging to accumulate enough teaching hours?
A: HMS broadly defines teaching and educational activities to include HMS courses, formal teaching of trainees, clinical and/or laboratory supervision and training, CME, local invited presentations, mentoring, and/or educational administration. The following link offers a list of offices that offer resources and opportunities to help meet this requirement: https://fa.hms.harvard.edu/teaching-resources. Reach out to your department chair and mentors for advice and suggestions.
Q: I’ve studied the HMS criteria for promotion and think I am ready to be promoted. What do I do?
A: Reach out to your mentors, division chief, and/or department chair to discuss your status and ask for their advice. You can also take advantage of an HMS Office for Faculty Affairs one-on-one consultation by contacting OFA_promotions@hms.harvard.edu.
The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Faculty Development (CFD) strongly recommends that faculty use www.easyCV.me to curate their Harvard Medical School (HMS) CV. Created by Mass General faculty member Wilton Levine, MD, Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, this user-friendly tool is an on-line database to enter your CV elements, search and import from PubMed and download an HMS formatted CV. You are able to import your current HMS CV into the system and download your full CV or only entries from a certain timeframe. You are also able to assign a delegate to your account.
The purpose of the HMS CV is to thoroughly showcase your accomplishments in a clear format.
Key CV messages include:
- Capturing all your teaching—including future engagements—in the appropriate categories as well as addressing it in your narrative
- Documenting the reach of your reputation, through talks (regional/national/international); membership in professional societies and on committees; and editorial roles and grant review responsibilities
- Providing the big picture of your profile and accomplishments in the narrative
Key elements to keep in mind in the general formatting of your CV:
- Lists are always in chronological order
- Each activity or role should be listed only once
- Include page numbers
- Use abbreviations recognized across HMS (MGH, BIDMC, BCH, etc.); avoid abbreviations known only to your subspecialty
Key elements to keep in mind in specific areas on your CV:
- Be specific as to hours spent in clinical and/or research supervisory and training responsibilities (i.e., X hours per week, not X sessions per week)
- Distinguish between “Formally Mentored Harvard Medical, Dental and Graduate Students” and “Other Mentored Trainees and Faculty” (i.e., outside Harvard) and describe the accomplishment(s) of each mentee as a direct result of your mentorship
- In the sections covering formal teaching of peers and invited presentations:
- Select the appropriate statement on sponsorship
- Include talks scheduled for the future
- HMS Grand Rounds are Local Invited Presentations (not formal teaching of peers)
- Named lectures go under Invited presentations, bolded for emphasis
- For disruptions due to COVID-19, append the appropriate statement to presentations: “This presentation was scheduled, but then postponed until [year] because of a COVID-19 travel/meeting ban,” or “This presentation was scheduled, but then cancelled because of a Covid-19 travel/meeting ban.” There is no need to amend live presentations that convert to video format due to COVID-19
- Be specific as to time spent in Practice Activities (e.g., hours/week; days/month)
- For those whose Area of Excellence is Clinical Expertise and Innovation, the section Clinical Innovations is required
- Under Report of Scholarship, research investigations include presentation of new data or are meta-analyses and systematic reviews with statistical analysis. Put your name in bold print throughout the Report of Scholarship section
- List Abstracts only within last three years, unless an award was received for an abstract
The narrative provides an opportunity to highlight your unique combination of accomplishments, including those that do not have another home in the CV (e.g., accomplishments in administrative leadership, submitted manuscripts). Tell a cohesive story and give perspective on the importance of your field-specific activities. See “Crafting Your CV Narrative” by former OCC Director Theodore A. Stern, MD, for more specific directions.
How do I proceed to get my HMS CV in shape?
- Upload your CV to the Easy CV website (see above for more information on this site)
- Request a consultation with Dr. Anne Levy, Mass General CFD Senior Program Manager, to get advice on your specific questions and on the CV Narrative
- The CFD also highly recommends taking advantage of HMS Office of Faculty Affairs (OFA) one-on-one CV review consultations, which are designed to address both high- and low-level concerns regarding career advancement. In addition to providing specific feedback regarding your CV, the specialist will evaluate your promotion readiness, provide guidance and feedback regarding how to plan and work toward promotion, and offer advice about local faculty development resources. To request a consultation, email OFA_promotions@hms.harvard.edu
For further information on the CV, including the HMS CV template, the full CV instructions guide and an excellent Zoom presentation Crafting Your Faculty of Medicine CV, visit HMS Faculty of Medicine CV Guidelines website.