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CFAS News Previous Edition


CDC Director Resigns; Amazon and Others Launch Health Care Company; NAM Well-Being Papers; and Other Items of Interest

Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, has resigned from her position as CDC director due to conflicts of interest arising from her financial investments in tobacco and health care companies, reported the New York Times. A press release from HHS stated, “Dr. Fitzgerald owns certain complex financial interests that have imposed a broad recusal limiting her ability to complete all of her duties as the CDC Director. Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period.” Anne Schuchat, MD, has been named acting director.
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Commenting on the news, Modern Healthcare reported that ethics experts are calling on the Trump administration to be more aggressive in addressing conflicts of interest among federal appointees.
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Also in CDC news, the Washington Post reported yesterday that the agency will dramatically downsize efforts to prevent global disease outbreak—by as much as 80%.
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A joint health care company created by Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway will rally their significant resources in an attempt to tackle the country’s health care woes, reported the New York Times. “The part that is the most difficult is trying to influence the underlying system. Any single company, even broad coalitions, have a hard time,” said Michael Thompson, chief executive of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. NPR covered the new initiative, noting it will aim to leverage technology in lowering health care costs, in an interview with Kevin A. Schulman, MD, MBA, professor of medicine and of business administration at Duke University.
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A paper from the NAM’s Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience described how to improve clinical documentation of care and order entry in care-centered ways. Authors include Alexander Ommaya, DSc, senior director at the AAMC, Pamela Cipriano, PhD, RN, president of the American Nurses Association, David Hoyt, MD, executive director of the American College of Surgeons, Keith Horvath, MD, senior director at the AAMC, Mark DeFrancesco, MD, past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (a CFAS member society), Susan Hingle, MD, chair of the Board of Regents at the American College of Physicians (also a CFAS member society), and Christine Sinsky, MD, vice president at the AMA.
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Also from the NAM’s Action Collaborative, a discussion paper presented a comprehensive conceptual model of the factors affecting clinician well-being and resilience.
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In more news related to well-being, a Healthcare Finance article explored how including arts and humanities in medical school curricula can help alleviate burnout. The article said students who studied humanities had significantly higher levels of empathy, among other positive attributes.
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Slate covered “Happiness 101” courses for improving mental health on college campuses. Other coverage noted that this has been one of the most popular classes offered at Yale.
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This year’s flu season is the worst in almost a decade and has forced some hospitals to devise new spaces to house patients, restrict visitors, and even postpone elective surgeries, reported the Wall Street Journal. The surge in flu-related admissions could put even more pressure on hospital margins because reimbursements for flu admissions don’t usually cover the cost of care, and the influx of flu patients crowds out elective procedures, which generate higher reimbursement rates.
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The New York Times updated a story today it ran in January on the impact of the flu this season, reporting that infection rates and flu-related hospitalizations are still increasing. Hospitalizations linked to influenza are the highest the CDC has ever reported at this point in the season.
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Bloomberg Politics published a recent article, “Congressional Bickering Puts Billions at Risk for U.S. Health Centers,” which covers how community health organizations that deal with issues such as opioid addiction face an uncertain funding future given today’s political climate.
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For the first time since World War II, America’s position as the world’s leader in science and technology is in jeopardy, said an opinion piece in the Boston Globe that lamented the absence of discussion around this fact at the national level. The piece noted that China could surpass America as the leading spender on research and development, which would have dramatic strategic implications for the United States economically, militarily, and scientifically.
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On a related note, an article in Popular Science stated that, although China may overtake the United States in various scientific advances, including conducting studies using CRISPR in humans, the FDA helps ensure that America’s drugs and health care products are safer because they are approved through a more rigorous review process.
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In his monthly column for AAMCNews, Darrell G. Kirch, MD, AAMC president and CEO, examined how the majority of students entering medical school are women.
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Health care is not immune to workplace sexual harassment, reported Healthcare Dive in an article that explored several instances of harassment in health care–focused workplaces.
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Healthcare Dive also covered the latest developments in the 340B lawsuit saga, reporting that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit approved hospital groups’ request for an expedited brief schedule for their lawsuit against CMS cuts to the drug program.
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“Many oncologists are shunning chemo as risky and ineffective at combating some early-stage breast tumors,” reported the Wall Street Journal in an article that discussed changing views toward the use of chemotherapy in cancer treatment.
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“When a teenager is hit in the head, his brain can begin to show signs, within days, of the kind of damage associated with degenerative brain disease, according to an unsettling new study of young men and head injuries,” reported the New York Times.
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An opinion piece in STAT highlighted a body of recent research suggesting pay for performance programs have net negative impacts on health care. The piece explored potential factors for why the programs seem to struggle and discussed earlier evidence that suggested the programs might be ineffective. The piece was cowritten by Stephen Soumerai, ScD, professor of population medicine and founding and former director of the Division of Health Policy and Insurance Research at Harvard Medical School.
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Another STAT article explored why the issue of rising drug prices seems to be an intractable problem.
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The health care system is doing a better job of caring for women who have been victims of domestic violence, according to an article in Kaiser Health News, because there is a growing number of clinics and hospitals offering screenings, counseling, education, and other services for victims.
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U.S. News and World Report ran a special education article suggesting more medical schools should consider a focus on geriatric education. The piece included questions students who might be weighing a career in geriatrics should ask.
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Health Affairs published a list of medical research and development issues to watch in 2018.
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OU Medicine, Inc., this week concluded a transaction with HCA Healthcare transferring ownership and management of OU Medical System hospital facilities from HCA to OU Medicine, Inc. OU Medicine assumed ownership and day-to-day operations of the Oklahoma City–area hospitals Feb. 1. HCA had managed the hospitals under a joint operating agreement with the University Hospitals Authority and Trust (UHAT) since 1998. UHAT and the University of Oklahoma created OU Medicine, Inc., last year to acquire HCA’s local interests.
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The February issue of Academic Medicine is online and features content on leadership in academic medicine, social science and humanities in MD-PhD programs, standardized video interviews for residency applicants, and the social determinants of health, among many other topics.
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The annual AAMC Faculty Salary Report has been updated with FY 2017 survey data from 145 accredited U.S. medical schools. The benchmarking report contains total compensation information for more than 110,000 full-time faculty across 92 departments and specialties. AAMC members and CFAS representatives have greatly discounted access to the data through an annual online subscription.
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The AAMC is hosting a webinar, Teaching Medical Spanish to Improve Population Health, on Feb. 22 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. ET.
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Another AAMC-hosted webinar on March 7 at 1 p.m. ET will cover emergency management in a higher education environment, highlighting the disaster phases—response, continuity, recovery, mitigation, and preparedness—using results of a national 2016 needs assessment of emergency management programs at U.S. institutions of higher education.
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Thomas Buchholz, MD, has been named medical director of the Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center, a comprehensive, clinically integrated cancer care program in San Diego, which is expected to open for patient care in summer 2018. Dr. Buchholz comes to San Diego after 20 years at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
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Susan Kaib, MD, has been named associate dean of student affairs at the University of Arizona College of Medicine–Phoenix, and Glen Fogerty, PhD, has been appointed associate dean of admissions and recruitment at the College of Medicine. Dr. Kaib previously served as interim associate dean of student affairs, and Dr. Fogerty has served as interim assistant dean of the Office of Admissions and Recruitment and assistant professor in bioethics and medical humanism.
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Brenda Roman, MD, has been named associate dean for medical education, effective Feb. 1, at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. Dr. Roman served at the school as assistant dean for medical education and educational research for the past four years, and she is also a professor of psychiatry there.
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Gregory G. Maskarinec, PhD, has been appointed director of global and international health at the University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine. Dr. Maskarinec is a cultural anthropologist who served for 20 years in the Departments of Native Hawaiian Health and Family Medicine and Community Health at the school of medicine.
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Sylvie Naar, PhD, will direct Florida State University’s new Center for Translational Behavioral Research. Naar is moving to Tallahassee from Detroit, where she was professor and director of the Division of Behavioral Sciences at Wayne State University.
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The Primary Care Leadership Program provides future health care professionals an opportunity to experience primary care practice in community health centers. The program is open to medical students and graduate-level nursing and physician assistant students poised to become leaders in primary care. Scholars receive a $5,000 stipend that covers expenses during the service-learning experience period. The application period for the 2018 program is now open.
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The editor of CFAS News, who, truth be told, has been known for a bit of salty language now and again when warranted, can finally safely claim what he has always thought: he is merely exercising. Smithsonian magazine recently reviewed a new book, Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language.
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And finally, first there were thousands of now-classic Amazon reviews of the Hutzler 571B Banana Slicer providing appreciative consumers hours of reading entertainment. And now there’s a new source of laughs from Amazon product reviews just for the research crowd. Scientists have started writing reviews focused on how they really use a range of innocuous products purchased online. Gizmodo initially reported, followed by the Washington Post. Check out #reviewforscience on Twitter for advice on how nail polish is just the thing for “sealing coverslips onto freshly stained slices of brain” or find an ideal roasting pan for “large scale chicken embryo cultures.” As for a tube of Pringles? “Once the salty deposits inside have been discarded, the tube can safely hold straws containing c. 50 tree cores.”
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Find more news items on AAMC's Research Clips page, and visit the CFAS Resources page for an archive of the previous four editions of CFAS News as well as our People of Academic Medicine page, which features a running list of academic promotions, appointments, and departures.

Your comments and news tips are always welcome. Please email them to Eric Weissman at eweissman@aamc.org.

Read the previous edition of CFAS News.

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