Date of Award



© 2020 Thomas Pahnke

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

William Boozang

Second Advisor

Debra Welkley

Third Advisor

Pam Pinahs-Schultz


Health science faculty shortages are one factor limiting the ability of institutions of higher education (IHE) to meet healthcare workforce demands. To address this problem IHE leaders must not only recruit, but also retain faculty. Given this problem, the purpose and question of this research study was to identify personal and workplace factors that contribute to health science faculty retention at small and mid-sized private Midwestern IHEs. To explore this question, a descriptive and exploratory quantitative survey research design was used. This design specifically sought to identify incentives for continued employment, as well as disincentives that cause a faculty member to consider leaving their academic position.

A total of 158 of 889 (17.8%) nursing, occupational therapy, physician assistant and physical therapy faculty at small to mid-sized (<9,999) private Midwestern IHE responded to the survey request. The Incentives and Disincentives for Employment Survey (IDES) was used for data collection. The IDES asked respondents to select factors important for retention from a list of previously validated incentives and disincentives for employment. Respondents were also asked to complete two qualitative questions asking which factors were most important for retention.

Results of this research study revealed faculty were predominantly female (84.8%), nearly half were primary caregivers (47.5%), a low percentage were tenured (26.3%), a high percentage worked on a 12 month annual contract (57%), and the sample had limited teaching experience (M=10.7, SD=9.8). This research study found that key factors that incentivize continued employment parallel factors that when absent, would cause a faculty member to consider leaving. Manageable workloads, flexibility in the workplace, a collegial atmosphere, and a supportive direct supervisor were most frequently reported as important for health science faculty retention. In addition, salary is an emerging factor for some faculty.

These findings revealed health science faculty needs do not fully align with established job satisfaction theory. To improve health science faculty retention, it is recommended that IHE leaders 1) assess and address workload issues, 2) utilize the inherent flexibility of academic work, 3) lead through an understanding of individual needs, 4) develop collegiality through collective responsibility and 5) regularly benchmark salary to academic and practice environments.


Ed.D. Dissertation