Been there, done that: Faculty advice from CFAR

Oct 2, 2018

Each year, the Department of Medicine undergoes the Continuing Faculty Appointment Review (CFAR) process for full-time clinical faculty from all position descriptions and academic ranks who have reached the end of their three-year probationary period. This is a mandatory review and is designed as a “check-in” to ensure that the faculty member has met the terms and conditions of their appointment to the Department. It’s also intended to assess for any barriers or challenges to the academic success of the candidate that warrant attention. During the review, the contributions of the faculty member are evaluated based on their academic position description, initial Academic Planning Document, the quality and quantity of their teaching and their professional behaviour.

The DoM is fortunate enough to have faculty who are overwhelmingly successful in the CFAR process, and the Department is here to work with faculty towards the successful completion of their probation. In this month’s Chair’s Column, Dr. Gillian Hawker has outlined what the CFAR committee is looking for, what is being done to improve the process, why a faculty member might have their probation extended and what the Department of Medicine can do better.

There’s no question that this process can be stressful and intimidating. For their advice, we asked a few faculty members who recently went through CFAR to share their experiences. Here’s what they had to say:


Dr. Phyllis Billia

"My advice would to put aside enough time early. It is surprising the amount of time that is required to do a good job. When all is said and done, you realize that this is a necessary step in your academic life as it sets the foundation for the next step, which is a move towards promotion. Achieving the requirements for each job description can be challenging in the three years allotted; each job description has its own challenges. And 'not' passing can seem incredibly demoralizing - but our colleagues are really there to ensure our success."

Dr. Phyllis Billia, Clinician-Scientist, Cardiology


Dr. Raymond Kim

"For fellow faculty members who are going through the CFAR process, my best piece of advice is to keep your WebCV updated regularly. Think about it like an IV: it’s much easier to make quick updates in the form of a continuous infusion rather than a bolus. It’s a habit of mine now, like billings and dictations; not something I like to do, but do regularly. I also recommend that new faculty read the CFAR template early in your probationary period, and keep it on your desk or somewhere close at hand to add things that fit into the headings as you think of them. As well, make sure you attend the CFAR workshop and ask questions. Tom Rylett and the CFAR staff are helpful and timely, and are there to answer your questions. Finally, it’s not as painful as you might think. In fact, it’s a helpful intellectual exercise and compels you to reflect on your position description and if your position in academic medicine is the right fit."

Dr. Raymond Kim, Clinician-Investigator, Medical Oncology

Lucas Chartier portrait

"Overall, I felt supported throughout the CFAR process in terms of knowing the procedures, timelines and documents required by the DoM team. (The website has a lot of information too!) Going through the process highlighted two things for me. First, ensure that your mentors are involved throughout your journey (and not only in the last six months) to help you stay 'on track' with regards to expectations and deliverables. Second, keep your CV and academic dossier up-to-date to avoid scrambling to put it together at the end. My advice for those who feel apprehensive about the process would be to reach out to the many people within their clinical department, their hospital, their academic stream and at the DoM level who can act as resources. Discuss with them what can be done to ensure success, which will hopefully help to decrease anxiety. Ultimately, I found the CFAR process useful. It confirmed my areas of strengths and provided suggestions for what I could focus on going forward towards senior promotion."

Dr. Lucas Chartier, Clinician in Quality & Innovation, Emergency Medicine