Chair's Column: Introducing the DoM Checklist for Annual Activity Review

Feb 5, 2019
Dr. Gillian Hawker

Gillian HawkerGillian Hawker Our faculty are our most precious resource. This is why mentorship across the academic lifespan is one of the guiding principles for the department. With this goal in mind, over the past five years we have introduced a number of strategies to better support faculty members from pre-recruitment to post-retirement. To date, our focus has been predominantly on early and mid-career faculty members, with the establishment of divisional mentorship facilitators, programs to financially support physician scientists, and rejigging of the CFAR process. We are in the midst of working on a comprehensive initiative to support late career physicians, which will include launching confidential retirement coaches, among other things.Academic Lifecycle

A common thread that links all stages of one’s career is the Annual Activity Review (AAR).

While there is the expectation that full-time DoM members participate in an AFR, irrespective of career stage or rank, we are aware that there is substantial variability in the nature of the review. The AFR is intended to provide the opportunity for formal discussion about what is and what may not be working to achieve your goals, to ensure you are meeting the expectations of your academic position description, APD, and to facilitate your career success. To provide a framework for the AAR, the DoM Executive has developed an AAR Checklist to help plan for and guide the discussion.

In any given year, we recommend that the following items be discussed, as appropriate to your position description, career stage and rank:

  1. Highlights and challenges of the prior academic year and goals for the upcoming year with respect to clinical work, teaching/education and scholarly activities;
  2. Wellness and work life integration;
  3. Alignment of your Academic Position Description with clinical and academic activities and administrative service, e.g. quantity, quality and levels of teaching and scholarly productivity;
  4. Demonstrated teaching effectiveness;
  5. Mentorship: quality, quantity and appropriateness to needs;
  6. Career milestones: preparedness for CFAR or junior/senior promotion;
  7. Professionalism and Citizenship, such as participation in hospital, divisional and departmental activities;
  8. Finances, including practice plan status and financial planning for retirement;
  9. Adherence to Hospital / University policies regarding relationships with industry, etc.;
  10. Planned changes in clinical or academic activities (leaves, breaks and retirement plans); and,
  11. Eligibility for awards: hospital, divisional and departmental.

Who should conduct the AAR?

To date, the AAR has largely been conducted at the hospital by your PIC or hospital division head. However, as the DDD role has evolved it has become clear to us all that regular meetings with your DDD may also be hugely beneficial. Furthermore, we believe that redundancy is not a bad thing – different perspectives may be helpful.

So, we would encourage you to meet with any one or more of: your PIC/Department Chief, Hospital Division Head and/or Department Division Director. This may be in addition to a Research Institute review, for those of you conducting research.

Preparing for the annual review:

The above list is long, and not everything is relevant at every review. So please take some time to prepare for your review as follows:

  • Figure out your priorities for discussion;
  • Review your academic plan, if relevant, and APD ahead of time. Reflect on whether you are meeting the expectations you set out and if the current APD fits with you career goals.
  • Review and reflect on your teaching evaluation. Remember that teaching effectiveness is required of all faculty members, irrespective of their APD. If you have received other feedback, such as a 360 review, please review and reflect on that as well.
  • Consider the highlights of the past year(s) and what you would like to accomplish next. Ask yourself what is going well and where perhaps some adjustments are required. How would you rate your work-life integration and career satisfaction? Come prepared to discuss these.
  • All Department members are expected to develop and maintain a three-to-five-year career plan. As part of the yearly annual review, all members will be asked about their plans and are expected to inform their PIC of any anticipated major changes in clinical or academic activity to facilitate planning.
  • Financial planning for retirement is the responsibility of the Department member. How are you doing?

If the time is up and you feel you have more to discuss, please say so! And, if you feel you need to meet more frequently than annually, that is ok too. Just let your leadership team and mentors know.

After the review:

Irrespective of who conducts the review, in order to reduce the probability of you receiving mixed messages, we recommend that key points discussed and action items be summarized and shared with relevant stakeholders (faculty member, PIC, hospital and departmental division direction, Chair, Research Institute, Program Lead, etc.). This will help ensure we are all on the same page as you with respect to your career plans and expected outcomes.


We are genuinely committed to ensuring your satisfaction, success and wellness in academic medicine across every stage of your career. We believe that greater attention to individual faculty members’ needs, goals and challenges will be facilitated through a more standardized and fulsome approach to mentorship and review.

As we move towards enhanced support for late career transitions, we would really appreciate your help to ensure we get it right. Specifically, to inform our retirement toolkit, we would like to know what questions you may have about the late career transition. For example, can a faculty member stop their clinical work but continue to conduct research? Could I give up my clinical work over a few years? Where can I get financial advice? Can I keep my email address? Please fill out our call for Frequently Asked Questions. 

Thanks in advance for your input and feedback!