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CFAS Rep Update March 2017

2017 CFAS-ORR Spring Meeting
The Role of CFAS Societies in Appointing Reps to ORR
CFAS Rep Profiles: Paul Aravich, PhD, and Alison Holmes, MD, MPH
CFAS-Member Society Profile: American Association of Anatomists (AAA)
CFAS Rep Paul Gordon’s Bike Ride Listening Tour of Americans’ Views on the ACA
How to Use Your Free Subscription to Academic Medicine
Faculty Salary Data
Our Guiding Principles
NIH Communication Plan

2017 CFAS-ORR Spring Meeting
springmeeting1This year’s CFAS-ORR Joint Professional Development Conference was our most ambitious in terms of the content, the number of sessions, and the number of speakers. Attendees had robust discussions about topics ranging from wellness and well-being to the best ways to tackle the opioid epidemic to how to navigate your institution’s governance to a breakfast table topic conversation on writing letters to Congress. We also spent a lot of time in plenary and breakout sessions discussing the role of basic science in today’s academic health center. A summary  of the meeting is available. Slides from the breakout sessions are accessible through the AAMC meetings app and from the meetings page on To access presentations from the meeting, visit, click on "View presentations" under the heading, "Past Meeting and Presentations" on the left side of the page, and click the title of the meeting. Once on the meeting page, hover the mouse over the "Participants List and Presentations" tab on the far right and click on the drop down, "Participants List and Presentations." If you see a link at the bottom of the page that says, "Already Registered?" click on it and follow the instructions to retrieve your registration confirmation number. After you are signed in using the confirmation number, hover back over the "Participants List and Presentations" tab and click on the "Presentations" drop down. A special thank you to all who attended and contributed to the meeting’s success! We hope to see you again next year.

The Role of CFAS Societies in Appointing Reps to ORR
CFAS-member department chair or program director societies that represent the 24 ABMS recognized general specialties are able to appoint resident representatives to the AAMC’s Organization of Resident Representatives. Each eligible CFAS society appoints two residents for a staggered two-year term, and the residents are selected democratically by their peers when feasible. The residents must be actively enrolled in a residency or fellowship program at the time of appointment or reappointment, and no two residents appointed by the same society may come from the same residency training program. The presidents of eligible CFAS-member societies receive an ORR appointment solicitation from the AAMC in late spring each year. ORR terms run from July 1 – June 30.

Rep Profile: Paul Aravich, PhD, Senior School Rep, Professor of Pathology and Anatomy at the Eastern Virginia Medical School

CFAS: How can basic science faculty best advocate for their discipline within an academic health center?

DrAravichDr. Aravich: These are troubling times for basic science in medical education, partly because of the big focus on Step 1. Basic scientists and medical students need to be taught to communicate to academic health center leadership that they do have clinically relevant information. We need our students to get more clinical exposure by having clinical mentors and getting involved in clinical conferences because our work is in silos, which doesn’t allow us to see what could be clinically relevant. In governance, we need to focus on positive behavioral controls where inclusion is part of the process. The zero sum competition between basic science personnel and administrators needs to be done away with. Instead, we need to teach more effective leadership, advocacy skills, and coalition building.

We have too few basic science faculty who are both educators and investigators and we need to look to them as a model for the future. Burnout is incredibly high among basic science faculty because they don’t feel valued. If basic scientists want to advocate for themselves, they need to train their graduate students how to interact with people in different positions within academic health centers. It takes time to build this cultural exposure and change.

CFAS: What are the research trends in neuroscience?

Dr. Aravich: We have a lot of exciting new techniques like optokinetics, where you can illuminate parts of the brain. We also have new imaging techniques, new brain stimulation techniques, and new discoveries regarding Parkinson’s disease have spilled over to help with other conditions. But it’s not ultimately about the techniques, because we are finding a more integrated approach to brain function. We are learning that we have to break down our silos in studying the brain because many of the different brain conditions are somewhat similar. For example, discoveries in epilepsy might also be somewhat applicable to conditions like schizophrenia.

CFAS: What are some lessons that you have learned from your experiences in public policy advocacy for brain injury, mental illness, and Alzheimer’s?

Dr. Aravich: Behavioral health issues are going to bankrupt us economically, so we have to pay a little now through federal spending for research, or we will pay much more later because of all the treatment costs. Almost all behavior is teachable, so we can teach our students effective advocacy, but one of the most important components of effective advocacy is being passionate about what you’re talking about. We have to be passionate about the disease, not our funding, and we must always be focused on the greater good and committed to social justice, because we are the messengers not the message. Our advocacy messages must be simple – some of the best public advocates out there are the best teachers who can translate the jargon. We also have to get the facts and figures from the most update-to-date sources.

There also has to be at least one heartbreaking story to bring the advocacy message back down to real life, but you can’t break hearts on the first visit. Instead, wait for the right timing and keep in touch with members and their aides. Staffers in Congress are very important because they drive what Congressional representatives do. Administrators in academic medical centers need to let their scientists go visit policymakers, because the result can greatly benefit the medical school.

CFAS: What are some recent accomplishments from the Eastern Virginia Medical School that would be interesting to CFAS reps?

Dr. Aravich: The AAMC has recognized us as one of the best community-minded medical schools. It’s great to be in that kind of environment, because all the community service helps with faculty wellness. Also, it brings good attention to your institution because policymakers and members of community groups want to hear from us.

The interprofessional panels that I organize involve patients, caregivers, social workers, advocates, and people across all of medical education. Our students helped a local Huntington disease advocate put an affiliate together because she didn’t have one that was connected to the Huntington Disease Society of America. Students are resources, and we need to bring students with us when we talk to policymakers.

CFAS: What do you like to do in your free time?

Dr. Aravich: I’m a big fan of the Steelers and the Penguins. I enjoy being with my son and I love when he teaches me about philosophy and music. I also spend a huge amount of time on preparing garlic, but I just can’t perfect it. I live for the ideal form of garlic. I love the arts, especially from a research point of view. The idea of integrating the arts with treatments for people with Alzheimer’s and other brain conditions is very interesting to me.

Rep Profile: Alison Holmes, MD, MPH, Junior School Rep, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at The Dartmouth Institute

DrHolmesCFAS: What are your research interests and what encouraged you to pursue them?

Dr. Holmes: In my early career I was interested in breastfeeding and nutrition and I got even more interested after I became a pediatrician. It’s a wonderful preventive health measure and there are lots of health disparities in breastfeeding that contribute to some child health differences for more vulnerable populations. Right now, I’m working on improving the family-centered care of newborns who are exposed to opioids in pregnancy. Our work has demonstrated that we can improve the family experience of care for a common problem while simultaneously lowering the cost – a "triple aim" outcome. We have been working on modifying how we respond to their withdrawal, and also in moving the site of care from neonatal intensive care to sites where families can room-in to calm their newborns.

CFAS: What are the important national trends or policy issues facing faculty members in pediatrics?

Dr. Holmes: I think we are all concerned about the potential repeal of the ACA right now. The ACA was wonderful for pediatrics in many ways: it contained workplace protections for breastfeeding mothers who were guaranteed breaks for nursing or milk expression, and it required health insurance to cover the costs of breast pumps. We are also very concerned about what will happen to the medically complex children who are served at children's hospitals, mostly as part of academic health systems. These are less than 1% of all children, but they are often multiply disabled and very medically fragile. They account for over 30% of our work efforts at tertiary care academic children's hospitals. They are almost all insured by Medicaid, and if we revert to block grants, it could put this vulnerable population at significant risk.

CFAS: What advice would you give to women who want to pursue a career in academic medicine?

Dr. Holmes: It’s a great career and there are so many opportunities. A career in academic medicine has more hierarchy than other careers, and more organizational politics, and sometimes women haven’t been trained to negotiate those systems as well. We have to teach women how to work through that and be comfortable with internal politics, because it’s just human interaction, and women are pretty good at understanding and navigating through group behavior and different types of interactions.

CFAS: What are some recent accomplishments from the Dartmouth Institute that would be interesting to CFAS reps?

Dr. Holmes: The Dartmouth Institute, or "TDI", is a wonderful multi-specialty and multi-disciplinary health services research institute. TDI researchers have been studying unnecessary variation in health care delivery for many decades. My pediatric colleagues have recently published the first Pediatric Dartmouth Atlas, which investigates variability in pediatric care. One of my colleagues is exploring supply-sensitive demand in neonatology. We now have more neonatal ICUs (NICUs), but it looks as if they serve bigger and older babies. So the question is, do these newborns need these services, or are they there just because the units are there? I have another colleague doing phenomenal work in the care of medically-complex children, particularly around family-centered care and care transitions such as safe hospital discharge.

CFAS: What do you like to do in your free time?

Dr. Holmes: Right now I enjoy alpine skiing. My husband Michael and I have 4 children, ages 8 to 14, and they are all on ski racing teams. They all ski a lot faster than I do at this point. In the summer we also love the mountains. There are 111 peaks over 4,000 feet in the northeast and I have been working on my "111" – climbing all of them. I’m up to 70 at present, so perhaps within the next five years or so I’ll meet my goal of 111.

Society Profile: American Association of Anatomists (AAA)
AAAlogoThe majority of AAA’s members work in the medical and dental school environments and teach a broad variety of anatomy courses as well as conduct research in their discipline ranging from developmental biology to neuroscience. AAA members’ areas of science include everything from neuroscience, physical therapy, cell biology, and comparative anatomy. The organization focuses on research and professional development and has three scientific journals that cover a range of anatomical science topics. AAA allocates more than $300,000 annually to an extensive awards program for members in order to recognize professional accomplishments, help them with funding research projects, and support their professional development.

The organization participates in a unique annual meeting, called “Experimental Biology,” that doesn’t just involve the AAA, but is hosted by five FASEB societies: The American Physiological Society (a CFAS society), the American Society for Nutrition, the American Society for Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics (a CFAS society), the American Society for Investigative Pathology (a CFAS society), and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (also a CFAS society). According to AAA executive director Shawn Boynes, CAE, “The meeting brings together about 14,000 scientists representing all disciplines and it’s a good way for people to build collaboration relationships as well as get more information outside of their primary areas of interest.”

Boynes said that the biggest policy issue for his organization is continued funding for the NIH, NSF, and other governmental funding agencies to make sure science remains a high priority. As a member of FASEB, the AAA follows their lead on public policy advocacy. The AAA also interacts with academic medicine very closely in local settings, since the majority of AAA’s members work in medical schools. Being involved in CFAS further connects AAA with academic medicine. “CFAS provides us with the opportunity to have a seat at the table and bring basic scientists into the conversation. AAA is a smaller group, and representing smaller groups is important because most groups that CFAS represents are larger and more broadly focused,” said Boynes.

CFAS Rep Paul Gordon’s Bike Ride Listening Tour of Americans’ Views on the ACA
Gordonbike1It’s not every day that a CFAS rep bikes all the way from Washington, D.C., to Seattle, stopping in small towns along the way to ask people what they think of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). So when senior school rep from the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Paul Gordon, MD, did just that, CFAS felt compelled to get more information.

“I wanted to visit mostly rural areas, so we stopped in many small towns along the way. There are three main cross country routes for bike riding and I chose the northern route because I wanted to ride through rural areas and end my journey in Seattle to see my daughter. I traveled east to west so there were lots of headwinds while I was riding. [My team and I] rode 50 miles a day for six days a week. We didn’t camp, but we stayed in motels in whatever small town we had visited toward the end of the day,” said Dr. Gordon.

As a family doctor who teaches an Introduction to Clinical Medicine course, the majority of Dr. Gordon’s free time is in the summer. He was also due for a sabbatical and had been wanting to go on a cross-country bike trip since 1976, so he decided to turn his long-overdue journey into an educational experience that was health policy-related. “I would just walk up to people and ask them what they thought of the ACA, and I had 115 conversations with people that way. After they realized that I was genuinely interested in what they had to say and I was going to listen without judging, they would open up to me,” said Dr. Gordon.

Gordonbike2He and his team categorized the responses into about a dozen different themes. In terms of negative responses, the four main themes were that interviewees believed the ACA increased the cost of health care, they didn’t like the idea of government involvement in health care, they put a lot of personal blame on President Obama for the perceived shortcomings of the law (and even had some blatantly racist things to say about the former president), and they had the idea that the ACA encouraged free-loading and laziness from people who get subsidies through the exchanges. “There was a lot of anger and frustration regarding that last theme, because people believed that they were having to pay for someone else’s laziness. … But in order to qualify for subsidized insurance on the exchanges, one has to have a job,” said Dr. Gordon.

Dr. Gordon could often predict people’s general sentiments toward the ACA based on whether they lived in urban or rural locations. After doing analysis on the collected responses, he and his team found that there was a much more significant divide in opinions between rural and urban people than there was between people living in different geographic regions of the country. And although a significant portion of the viewpoints Dr. Gordon heard were based on misinformation, he emphasized the need to meet people where they are at and not dismiss them. “One of the central things that I teach about communication is that it matters what’s heard, not necessarily what’s said. Certain people might have wrong beliefs, but those beliefs are real to them and it’s our job as physicians to recognize that and then provide education or better resources in the future. We can’t just shut them out,” said Dr. Gordon.

Dr. Gordon’s research was published in Academic Medicine, and videos of the recent talk he gave about his journey at the AAMC’s Washington, DC, headquarters can be viewed in parts 1 and 2.

How to Use Your Free Subscription to Academic Medicine
As a benefit of membership in CFAS, all reps and member-society executive directors enjoy a complimentary subscription to Academic Medicine, the AAMC's monthly peer-reviewed journal. The journal serves as an international forum to advance knowledge about the principles, policy, and practice of education, research, and patient care in academic settings.

To activate your online access:

  • Visit the Academic Medicine webpage
  • In the "New Users Register Now" box, enter a username, password, and your preferred email address. Click Continue.
  • Enter your contact information into the "Name and Address" box. Click Continue.
  • Complete the "Optional Information and End User License Agreement" form. Click Complete Registration.
  • An email will be sent to your registered email address. To complete the registration process, please click on the link contained in that email. You will be redirected to a page where you will be prompted to login.
  • On the "Would you like to activate your online subscription?" page, select "Yes! I am a subscriber and I want to activate my online subscription(s)."
  • Enter your subscriber number and click Activate Subscription.
  • If you have any questions, please contact LWW Society Member Care at 866-489-0443 or via email at

To download and access the iPad app:

  • Connect to the internet on your iPad.
  • Search for Academic Medicine in the App Store.
  • Click the Download icon.
  • Open the app and Sign In with your username and password to download recent issues.

Faculty Salary Data
The AAMC is now offering its Faculty Salary Report at a discounted rate to CFAS reps with an account on The discounted price is $40.00 for a yearly subscription to the data (without the member discount, the cost is $1,100.00). The latest edition has been updated with data from the 2015-2016 survey of 144 accredited US medical schools and features total compensation (based on fixed/contractual salary, medical practice supplement, bonus/incentive pay, and uncontrolled outside earnings) statistics for six faculty ranks in 92 departments/specialties. Also featured is the number of faculty in each total compensation statistic.

Our Guiding Principles
The AAMC has published a report, “The Work Ahead for Academic Medicine: Our Guiding Principles” to help members of academic medicine understand and navigate the AAMC’s positions and priorities during a time of change in Washington. The report highlights the AAMC’s guiding values regarding some of the most important the issues that affect patient care, medical research, and medical education in the U.S.

NIH Communication Plan
In light of the Trump administration’s plans to cut NIH funding by 18%, there has never been a more important time to advocate for sustainable, predictable funding for America’s most prolific funder of medical research. To help secure better funding for NIH, the AAMC created a new NIH Communication Toolkit meant to boost the advocacy efforts of those engaged in academic medicine. The toolkit is available to anyone with an account on We strongly encourage you to take advantage of these resources, and specifically highlight any NIH funding or involvement in your research when your institution sends out communications about that research, whether that communication be in the form of a press release, a report, or a bio on a webpage. This specific effort is meant to highlight the vital role that NIH grant funding has in realizing the achievements of American scientists. You will need your AAMC user name and password to access this member-only content.



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