In the past, the process of developing the young academic surgeon was arguably less strategic, one that was often not deliberately managed and monitored, leading in some cases to academic drift and disillusionment. Once upon a time it was assumed that greatness was genetic and that the next triple threat would emerge when a pre-programmed set of genes was turned on. Today, as the complexities and vicissitudes of our work increase, it is practically impossible for even the most gifted young person to be successful without careful attention to career development. Faculty development must be deliberate and strategic - every junior faculty member is unique and will require a customized career development plan that is well thought out, linked to measurable goals, monitored routinely and buttressed by effective mentoring. This approach will require time and commitment - precious commodities that are in short supply as the demands on our time are only escalating. By recruiting the right people (those who fit with the organization's values and goals) and providing the right environment, we can optimize the growth and satisfaction of our young faculty and, in so doing, create departments that are leaders in carrying out our missions of research, education and patient care. We cannot afford to have our young people fail - it is simply too costly, both from a financial and a human perspective.
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