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Barbara Jung
Chair's blog
June 21, 2024

Staff initiatives in the DOM

Highlighting our recent initiatives to support and recognize our 1,000+ staff members in the Department of Medicine.
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We are a team

We have over 1000 staff in the Department of Medicine who perform a wide-range of important work, including:

  • Research administrators, coordinators and scientists crucial to ongoing bench and translational research
  • Finance staff managing the many complicated pieces of our department’s $600m+ annual budget
  • Administrative staff juggling complex calendars and making everything run smoothly
  • Leadership overseeing departmental operations
  • AHR/HR staff supporting our 3500+ employees
  • Clinical staff overseeing and optimizing clinical funding
  • Program specialists and managers with responsibilities ranging from section management to DEI to Strategic Plan execution
  • Education staff managing our 35 fellowships, 6 residency programs, and medicine student programs
  • Communications staff highlighting our achievements and keeping us informed
  • IT staff safeguarding our critical data and information systems
  • And all of those in between!

Among many other accomplishments, in this last academic year, departmental staff were instrumental in the recent financial transformation (the largest technology change at the UW in 50 years). They rose to this occasion, performed above and beyond, and have been critical to continued operations throughout this transition. They also led, and continue to lead, many important developments in reporting and process improvement for the school and university.

Staff are the backbone of our department, often quietly working behind the scenes. We would not be able to function without them.

We are a team, and it is essential that we all work together to make our department the best it can be and a wonderful place to work for all. The way we treat each other matters. Please take time to acknowledge our valuable staff and their outstanding work, and ensure that they are treated professionally and with respect.

Investing in our staff

One of our Strategic Plan’s priority areas is to invest in ourselves. Here are some of our recent initiatives in support of staff.


Outstanding Staff Awards

We created the DoM Outstanding Staff Awards to recognize and celebrate exceptional staff members who are dedicated to supporting our organization’s missions of teaching, healing, discovery, and diversity and upholding core values. Our inaugural awards were given last year and we are currently in the process of selecting the 2024 recipients (view the 2024 nominees).

2023 recipients:

Kelsey Griffin (left), Susan Melhorn (center), Shinetra Pryor (right

Staff shout outs

Staff shout outsIn addition to our Outstanding Staff Awards, we launched the Staff Shout Outs program to recognize the outstanding work of our staff members in the department. Since launching in January 2024, we have received 76 shout outs, acknowledging our wonderful staff.

Staff spotlights

Staff spotlightOur staff spotlight program launched in March 2020 to highlight staff achievements, help our staff get to know each other and what we all do, and encourage engagement and camaraderie across the department. Since it launched, we have spotlighted 38 Department of Medicine staff. If you have a recommendation for a staff member for us to spotlight, please let us know!

Distinguished Staff Awards

Purple UW balloons on tableThe University of Washington Distinguished Staff Awards are the highest UW staff honor.

Since 2008, 56 our staff have been nominated for these awards (and a team from DoM won this year!), and we are currently increasing our efforts to nominate staff for these awards by putting forward all of our recipients of our departmental Outstanding Staff Awards each year.

Recruitment and retention

A float AHR/HR position was created in the central department to support AHR/HR vacancies and leaves. We are working on building a central DOM research administration team to bridge and support research administration gaps due to vacancies from local market competition.

We have been actively utilizing temporary pay increases to bridge vacancies and relocation payments to incentivize new recruitments. We are also utilizing discretionary leave and retention payments to aid in retention.

We are developing more equitable processes for recruitment & hiring and professional development, and advertising on multiple DEI sites for leadership positions.

To help us retain our outstanding staff, standardized exit interviews for staff launched in March 2024. Exit interviews will help us understand the contributors to employee turnover so we can work to improve employee retention.

Professional Development

Staff scholarship awardA staff professional development fund was created to support staff in seeking professional development opportunities and the first group of recipients will be announced in the coming weeks. Professional Development Scholarships provide funds to help Department of Medicine staff prepare to advance careers in education, health and medical sciences, or social sciences.

Two focus groups have been conducted and more are currently underway to gather information on how staff view professional development, leadership development, and mentorship, as well as to understand where there are barriers and gaps to these opportunities. If you are interested in joining a focus group, please let us know!


We want to ensure that staff feel mentored and supported in doing their best work. We helped to establish, and make up nearly 20% of the mentors in the School of Medicine Mentorship Program. We have also had numerous mentees participate in this program that is open to all staff groups.

Career development

While there are straightforward avenues for advancement and recognition for faculty and trainees, the same is not necessarily true for staff.

Development of defined staff career pathways and competencies are being developed by the Strategic Plan professional development subgroup, and we hosted a Gender Equity Lunch on career development and well-being initiatives for staff in November 2023.

We are implementing a new system to provide comprehensive feedback for our annual performance review process.

Professional development days

We are in the process of rolling out “professional development days” for both staff and faculty. Stay tuned for more information in the Fall.


A professional development staff resources page has been created on our public website.

Well-being and support

Bias Navigators

If you are feeling mistreated or have experienced a bias incident at work, please contact a DOM Bias Navigator to help you through this process.

Workplace well-being is a state in which individuals feel connected, empowered, and engaged in the work they do. This includes valuing and recognizing each employee as well as promoting a climate of inclusion, collaboration, safety, flexibility, and meaningful collective goals.

Supporting the well-being of our community is among the highest priorities of department leadership. As part of our Strategic Plan, a dedicated working group composed of both staff and faculty was established to lead the department’s efforts to support well-being.

This workgroup conducted four focus groups in March 2023. A total of 24 staff members participated and were diverse in terms of division, roles, and lengths of service. You can learn more about the results of these focus group on our news site.

Quiet weeks

As we continue to rebuild resilience and focus on mental health, we try to preserve department-wide quiet weeks throughout the year. During these weeks, we hope that individuals can limit non-essential meetings to recharge and reflect, as well as thoughtfully minimize emails.

Workforce engagement

We are using engagement software (pulse surveys) to track staff and faculty sentiments on topics like well-being and professional development over time.

Building community

Communities of practice for some staff groups started this year to facilitate connections for staff in similar job roles across divisions with the goal of expanding to other staff populations.


Our reconnection fund supports community-building and colleague connections. Staff reconnection events have included axe throwing, a cherry blossom run/walk and a CPR training and potluck gathering.

Group axe throwing (left), group near cherry blossoms (right, top), potluck gathering (bottom, right)

Sporting events

We are also hosting an annual sporting event to connect with each other outside of the office. This year we attended a Seattle Reign football match.

 Groups at Seattle Reign match

Chair lunches

I am currently hosting lunches with faculty, staff, and trainees across the department to offer a casual opportunity to connect with members of the department and to get to know me. The attendees are selected at random, so please be on the look out for an invitation and I sincerely hope you accept the invite if you receive one!

Thank you

Together, we are deeply committed to making the Department of Medicine a great place to work. We strive to create a culture of belonging where everyone feels welcome, safe, and appreciated, and where all of our voices are heard and respected.  

Please reach out to me or Betsy directly if you have suggestions on how we can best achieve these goals. And, if you would like to have more of a say in the direction of the department, please consider participating on one of Strategic Plan committees.  

Thank you so much for all that you do!