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Stanford establishes 'banking system' to help faculty balance their professional and personal lives

The Chronicle of Higher Education today highlights a new program at Stanford that was designed to help medical school faculty achieve a better work-life balance.

The project aims to establish a "banking system" that allows professors to add more flexibility into their schedules without feeling guilty that doing so will appear they are shirking their duties. In her story (subscription required), Katherine Mangan explains how the program works:

The system, which is being rolled out over the next month in five pilot groups, asks professors to keep track online of the hours they devote to work like mentoring, serving on committees, and helping out a colleague by taking on extra clinical hours. Such work translates into credits. The professors can cash in the credits whenever they need a variety of services that make juggling work and home life easier.

For instance, a new parent could choose a gift certificate for house cleaning or meal delivery. Another professor might opt for grant-writing support or help making a lab more efficient. The amount of the certificate is based on the credits earned, and the vendors are generally ones the medical school has screened and selected.

"The idea is to free up faculty to spend their time doing what they're uniquely qualified to do and what they're passionate about," says Caroline Simard, associate director of diversity and leadership at the medical school.

The five-member neurobiology department started using the system in August, and about 45 more faculty members in four other disciplines will be added over the next month.

Previously: School of Medicine opens outdoor workout facility, Workplace stress and how it influences health and Generational differences in how physicians view work and life
Photo by Scott Vandehey

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