PROBLEM: To investigate whether and how faculty members in a department of medicine are engaged in public policy activities. APPROACH: Between February and April 2011, the authors conducted a cross-sectional, Web-based survey of all active Department of Medicine faculty members at the University of California, San Francisco. Survey questions covered demographics, academic role, academic rank, and participation in three specific public policy activities during the past five years: (1) policy-related research, (2) expert advice to government officials, and (3) public policy advocacy in collaboration with organizations outside government. OUTCOMES: Two hundred twenty of 553 faculty (40%) responded to the survey. One hundred twenty-four faculty members (56% of respondents and 22% of total active faculty) reported that they were engaged in at least one of the three types of policy-related activities: 51 (23%) conducted policy-related research, 67 (30%) provided expert advice to government officials, and 93 (42%) collaborated with organizations to advocate for public policy. Higher faculty rank was significantly associated with faculty members reporting that they were involved in one or more of the three policy activities (P = .04). NEXT STEPS: Academic Department should identify public policy expertise among their faculty and leverage this expertise by facilitating opportunities to develop a shared faculty awareness of their public policy activities, by supporting the establishment of mentoring relationships for less experienced faculty in the area of public policy, and by incorporating standards of excellence for work in public policy into the promotions process.
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