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Panel 3

How should Demographics and the Language Skills of the Candidates be Assessed?

Chair: Paola Castagnoli, Former Scientific Director, SIgN/A-STAR, Singapore
Vice Chair:      Philippe Kourilsky, Former Director of the Pasteur Institute, Paris, France
Members: Roland Martin, Consultant, Department of Neurology, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland
Igor Khatkov, Chairman of Surgery, Clinical Scientific Center, Moscow, Russia

When considering demographic background, equal opportunities to all minorities should be assured during the selection. Numerous skills that are expected from successful chairpersons include expertise that is acquired during a professional career. When considering this and the continuing increase in life expectancy, predefined age barriers should not be “a priori” an exclusion factor. Similarly, gender imbalances are still prevalent in many countries and academic environments, and therefore the search for best candidates should make a conscious effort to include both genders. Upon identification of a short list of suitable candidates, a thorough assessment includes inviting the candidates for a seminar and series of interviews by the search committee and major stakeholders of the academic department and beyond, e.g. dean of the faculty, hospital director and dean of research, if available. Although time consuming, such a visit is considered the best way to learn about the candidate and her/his suitability for chairing a department in the respective academic institution (see also panels 1 and 2). An extended visit provides ample opportunity to discuss the mutual expectations for the position.

Among the skills that determine the success of a newly recruited chair proficiency in the English language is an obvious must in today's scientific environment. However, since most chairs in medicine will have to devote a substantial part of their time to patient care fluency or at least good conversational level knowledge of the national language and culture is also important. Not only communication with patients, but other aspects of the chair's tasks, such as interactions with administration and fund raising will also be facilitated. If the selected candidate does not have these skills, she/he should undergo an intensive language training course before starting the official assignment.

Fulltext of Panel 3 (PDF, 620 KB)

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