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A Word From the President: Deepening Our Commitment to Faculty

AAMC Reporter April 2013

Last month, the AAMC Council of Academic Societies (CAS) held its final meeting. For more than 45 years, CAS has served us well, and we have learned a great deal from the 85 member academic and scientific societies that have participated in the council. But in the face of unprecedented national challenges, from federal budget cuts affecting our missions to the impending physician workforce shortage, the CAS leadership recommended important changes to its structure to ensure that the full range of faculty voices is more clearly heard within the AAMC.

As a result, beginning July 1, CAS will transition to become the Council of Faculty and Academic Societies (CFAS). The most prominent change is that each AAMC-member medical school will make two faculty appointments to CFAS. These faculty members will join the two representatives from each of the existing academic and scientific society members of CAS. The chair and chair-elect of CFAS will continue to have seats on the AAMC Board of Directors, as do representatives from our Council of Deans and Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems.

Recognizing the vital need to hear more directly from faculty, the AAMC board wholly supported the changes recommended by the CAS Administrative Board, led by Kathleen Nelson, M.D., Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles/Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. As educators, clinicians, and researchers, you are the ones on the front lines of our institutions, training tomorrow’s physicians and scientists, conducting lifesaving research, and caring for our nation’s most vulnerable patients. Our full-time faculty ranks are 128,000 strong, and you truly make the work of our medical schools and teaching hospitals possible every day.

While CFAS will identify topics on which to focus, there are myriad issues under discussion at the AAMC and on the national stage that will benefit from a stronger faculty voice. A key topic that the current CAS leadership has discussed is the meaning and role of faculty in a rapidly changing academic environment. Other matters include the evolving promotion and tenure system, the outcome and effectiveness of incentivized faculty compensation plans, the impact of department consolidation on traditional departmental functions, faculty compliance burdens, and the effect of federal and state budget actions on faculty missions. We know that other issues are likely to rise once CFAS begins its work in earnest this summer.

If you have been asked to serve on CFAS or are interested in doing so in the future, we see several benefits. In addition to providing an opportunity for national service and professional development, serving on CFAS will allow you to help influence AAMC programs and services. Perhaps most important, the appointment will allow you to act as a key player in shaping academic medicine at the national level.

While the AAMC long has supported national venues for student and resident leadership through the Organization of Student Representatives and the Organization of Resident Representatives, many early- and mid-career faculty members lamented the gap in leadership opportunities within the AAMC. The new CFAS structure helps remedy this by establishing appointment guidelines to ensure that both current and future faculty leaders are represented in the new council.

One of the two CFAS representatives from each medical school will be a faculty member within 10 years of initial appointment, while the second representative will hold a senior leadership role, such as department chair, division director, program director, or center director—but without a dean’s office appointment. The academic society members of CFAS also are being asked to name one senior and one junior representative. The roles of the two CFAS representatives are identical, and appointments will be made for a three-year term (though the terms of the inaugural slate of appointees will be staggered so they do not expire simultaneously).

Critical to the credibility of CFAS as the voice of faculty in the AAMC, the CAS Administrative Board has asked that all medical school appointments to the council be made in consultation with faculty, rather than solely being a dean’s designation. We expect that each school will approach this process differently. For the senior faculty appointment, for example, some schools have engaged their council of chairs. For the early- and mid-career CFAS position, some schools have conferred with their faculty senate or have sought nominations that will be considered by a standing faculty nominations and appointment committee.

Ultimately, we realize that each school’s methods of appointment may be unique to that institution and each of the appointments may require a different consultation pathway. We are attempting to capture the methods by which your institutions are making appointments, and this information will figure prominently in the ongoing evaluation of CFAS. Please send any questions or concerns about the appointment process to CFAS@aamc.org.

Personally, I am most energized by the opportunity CFAS has created to bring together faculty leaders from all career ranks. I have a deeply held belief that confronting our nation’s most pressing health care challenges will take all of us—at every level—acting as leaders. The new structure of CFAS reflects the growing consensus that academic medicine needs to hear and learn from current and future leaders if we are to address our most pressing challenges. I look forward to hearing what you have to say as we work together to transform medical education, research, and patient care.

Darrell G. Kirch, M.D.

AAMC President and CEO