In recent years there has been difficulty in filling a large number of vacant positions for pediatrie department chairpersons. Coincidentally, the number of medical students interested in pursuing careers in pediatrics has decreased. While neither issue has received wide spread discussion or analysis, it occurs to me that they may be related. In most departments of pediatrics, one individual, the department chairperson, is charged with the responsibility of maintaining the quality of its major activities: training, acquiring new knowledge, and providingdirect medical care. Not having a chairperson can lead to suboptimal program development and low faculty morale. The perceptions of the students that we are trying to attract may be adversely affected by such conditions.
The process of selecting a new department chairperson has changed very little over the last few decades despite dramatic changes in academic medicine. Some ofthese changes have led administrators to express