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CFAS News Current Edition

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U.S. May be in “Silent” Surge; COVID-19 Boosters Approved for Younger Kids; AAMC Issues Guidance for Residency Interviews; and Other Items of Interest

The United States may be in a silent COVID-19 surge, reported the Washington Post in an article that relayed warnings from Biden administration health officials that one-third of Americans live in areas with rising levels of cases and hospitalizations. And the Associated Press reported that federal health officials are urging areas with the steepest rises in COVID-19 cases to consider reissuing indoor mask requirements.
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Similarly, the World Health Organization is telling health systems throughout the Americas to brace for surging virus cases, reported the New York Times in a piece which also noted that the average of new confirmed cases in the United States has surpassed 100,000 per day for the first time since February.
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The relatively mild surge in cases so far belies the reality that the situation for hospitals and health care workers has not fundamentally improved, since “[t]he health-care system is still in crisis mode. The ordeals of the past two years have tipped the system—and its people—into a chronic, cumulative state of overload that does not fully abate in the moments of respite between COVID waves,” reported The Atlantic.
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Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), endorsed a recommendation Thursday by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to recommend a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11 years old who are at least five months out from receiving the second dose of their primary series.
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Some new hospitals and health care facilities are missing out on COVID-19 relief funding because they are so new that they lack full financial statements from before the pandemic that would prove the extent of losses they’ve incurred as a result of care related to COVID-19, reported the Associated Press.
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A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that about 11% of hospital-admitted COVID-19 patients either return to the hospital after being discharged or die within 30 days, reported Modern Healthcare.
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CNN explained why long COVID symptoms are often difficult to recognize in older adults. And while post-acute COVID-19 causes long term sequalae in adults, fewer children and young people suffer from post-acute COVID-19 syndrome, reported a study published in Nature.
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Another study on the topic of long COVID was conducted by researchers from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, who used machine learning models to assist in identifying patients by analyzing patterns in electronic health records data, reported Becker’s Health IT. The study was published in The Lancet Digital Health.
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Scientists and federal health officials are considering pairing the flu vaccine campaign in the fall with COVID-19 vaccine doses “that are finely tuned to combat the version of the virus expected to be in circulation,” reported the New York Times.
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Writing for The Atlantic, Jay Varma, MD, a faculty physician and epidemiologist at Weill Cornell Medicine Medical College, lays out an argument that the public health system within the United States has failed the population in part because the system is so decentralized and uneven in how it is funded. And, he added, university-based physicians and epidemiologists have found themselves in an outside role serving as the face of public health information during COVID-19 — which hasn’t always had the best messaging results.
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The National Steering Committee for Patient Safety, comprised of leaders from organizations including the CDC, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, released its Declaration to Advance Patient Safety. The declaration is an urgent call for health care organizations to rebuild the foundations for safe care that were eroded during the onslaught of the pandemic, reported Becker’s Hospital Review.
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And Modern Healthcare covered a study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General that examined 770 Medicare patients out of approximately 1 million who had inpatient stays during October of 2018 at hospitals across the country. The study found that one-quarter of those patients experienced harm — a rate that barely changed from a decade earlier.
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The AAMC has developed guidance for residency interviews for the 2022-23 residency selection cycle. The guidance includes five recommendations: (1) Programs should conduct virtual interviews for all applicants, including local applicants, (2) Hybrid interviewing within the same program is strongly discouraged, (3) Programs should share their interviewing plans with applicants clearly and early, preferably when application requirements are released, (4) Programs should prepare for the interview cycle by reviewing resources on anti-bias practices and best practices in creating and implementing virtual interviews, as well as creating tools for recruiting in a virtual context, and (5) Organizations should commit to collaborative research to explore key aspects and outcomes of in-person and virtual interviews.
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Amid the backdrop of widespread falsehoods about COVID-19 flooding social media, a perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine explored the conundrum of physicians joining in the spread of that misinformation, and whether there are still “right and wrong answers” in medicine.
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The National Academy of Medicine Clinician Well-Being Collaborative is working to provide a national plan to strengthen health workforce well-being and restore the health of the nation following the COVID-19 pandemic. The draft plan was released on May 20 and an open comment period provides an opportunity to offer input that will be taken into consideration for the final plan. The open comment period ends May 27.
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Physicians who report being mistreated by their patients are among those who are most likely to suffer from professional burnout, reported Medscape in its coverage of a new study published in JAMA.
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Nature journals will start prompting authors to provide details on how sex and gender were considered in their study design starting in June, reported Nature Metabolism, saying, “Funders and journals have had policy initiatives in place for many years, and the number of research studies that include sex and gender as key variables has increased substantially across most biological disciplines in the past decade. However, important gaps remain, including presentation of data that is disaggregated by sex and gender, a reliance on a single sex or gender without appropriate justification and a lack of appropriate sex and gender analysis.”
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A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine described the need to move away from clinical trials that focus largely on white men as “urgent” and called for “a paradigm shift that gives less power to institutions that fund and conduct clinical research and more to communities under study,” said STAT.
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The George Washington University Mullan Institute has launched the Behavioral Health Workforce Tracker, a customizable interactive map that allows users to visualize the geographic distribution of nearly 1.2 million behavioral health providers in the United States. The tracker was developed with support from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and appears with the Health Workforce Diversity Tracker and other tracker tools on the Mullan Institute website.
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Twenty-three percent of physicians reported experiencing mistreatment at work in the prior year, according to a 2020 survey covered by Health Leaders.
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The physician shortage in primary care may be worsened by the recent trend of new internists choosing to practice in hospital settings as more senior physicians in outpatient settings near retirement, reported Rev Cycle Intelligence.
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“When you look at the current racial and ethnic makeup of physicians in the United States, it doesn't come close to mirroring or reflecting the wonderful diversity that we have in this country. We could help with the physician shortage right there, if we just extended an equal opportunity to become a physician to all demographic groups,” said Quinn Capers IV, MD, associate professor for faculty diversity and vice chair for diversity and inclusion with the department of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, in a piece for the American Medical Association.
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“[H]ospitals’ conflict-of-interest policies haven’t kept up with the growing liability associated with their involvement in more businesses. From 2019 to 2021, fewer subsidiary hospitals with advisory boards adopted protocols requiring an independent review of board members’ potential conflicts of interest,” reported Modern Healthcare.
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ProPublica discussed documents that describe how pharmaceutical companies built financial relationships with doctors and targeted them to increase opioid prescriptions.
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There is excitement about the development of drugs that target the APOL1 gene variants, which leads to increased risk of kidney disease among many people of sub-Saharan African ancestry, reported the New York Times, but experts caution that a laser focus on gene variants may inadvertently detract from addressing the social and economic disparities that underlie the disease.
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Two dozen states have waded into the dispute between the HHS and a growing number of pharmaceutical companies over the 340B drug discount program, reported STAT.
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Ross McKinney Jr., MD, AAMC chief scientific officer, was recently interviewed for a podcast produced by the Stanford Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) program’s Healthcare Leadership Podcast. During the discussion, he reflects on how past rejections and failures impacted his leadership strategies and career in academic medicine.
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CFAS rep Sidney Weissman, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times on the subject of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. “Mass shootings are not simply a mental health problem that mental health workers can fix. They are also societal problems fueled by the availability of guns and the ubiquity of prejudice,” he wrote. Dr. Weissman is a representative from the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training.
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AAMCNews posted an article that explored how smartphones and wearables are benefiting clinical research and treatment.
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The AAMC Center for Health Justice recently polled a nationally representative sample of people who gave birth in the past five years to learn about their experiences. A new data brief highlights findings from the poll and provides insights about the complications and discrimination individuals have faced during pregnancy and childbirth and following childbirth. The analysis also provides data for populations about whom there is limited research, such as LGBTQ+ populations.
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Academic Medicine is seeking original submissions for its Letters to the Editor feature from medical students, residents, fellows, and trainees in other health professions on the topic of a transformative moment in their professional journey. The submission period runs from May 23-27.
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The AAMC is hosting a series of four webinars to highlight the role of academic medicine in promoting and advancing health equity through telehealth. The second installment, “Leveraging Data to Drive Change in Telehealth Access Equity,” will be held June 2, from 3-4 p.m. ET.
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The AAMC Group on Faculty Affairs Professional Development Conference will take place virtually from July 13-15. The theme will focus on “Reflect, Reimagine, and Redefine” and provide an opportunity to engage with peers in faculty affairs, faculty development, leadership development, and administration who understand the unique challenges of these roles. The early bird registration discount ends June 14.
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The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is seeking nominations for the 2022 Pearl Birnbaum Hurwitz Humanism in Healthcare Award. The deadline for nominations has been extended through June 6.
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Patricia Finn, MD, has been named dean of the University of the New Mexico School of Medicine. Dr. Finn is a professor and head of the Department of Medicine and associate dean for strategic initiatives at the UNM School of Medicine.
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Amy Murtha, MD, has been appointed dean of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School effective this August. Dr. Murtha serves as professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Services at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. She will succeed Robert Johnson, MD, who has served as interim dean of the medial school since September 2019. Dr. Johnson will continue to serve as dean of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
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Christopher King, PhD, MHSc, has been named dean of the Georgetown University School of Health when it launches on July 1. Dr. King is associate professor and chair of the Department of Health Systems Administration at the Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies.
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Bruce Gelb, MD, has been appointed dean for child health research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Gelb is the Gogel Family Professor of the Child Health and Development Institute and also holds professorships in pediatrics and genetics and genomic sciences at ISMMS.
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Amanda Simanek, PhD, MPH, has been named founding director of the Michael Reese Research and Education Foundation Center for Health Equity Research at Rosalind Franklin University. Dr. Simanek is a social epidemiologist and an associate professor in the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
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Peter Burke, MD, will step down from his position as chief of acute care and trauma surgery at the Boston University School of Medicine at the end of June. Dr. Burke has served as chief since 2008 and is succeeded by Tracey Dechert, MD, an associate professor of surgery at Boston University.
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Norma Ojeda, MD, has been appointed chair of the Department of Advanced Biomedical Education at the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Medicine, effective July 1. Dr. Ojeda is professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Pediatrics at the UMMC Medical School.

In a story where veterinary medicine meets human medicine meets hitherto unknown innovation, USA Today reported on a team of zoo workers, veterinarians, and physicians who fitted Msituni, a newborn giraffe calf with legs that bent the wrong way, with one-of-a-kind prosthetics enabling her not merely to walk, but to survive. The San Diego Zoo resident is doing well with her new set of custom-molded, carbon graphic orthotic braces.
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And finally, you might live in one of those untold numbers of households that famously adopted a pandemic puppy over the past few years, but what about a pandemic mantis? The Journal of Orthoptera Research has published a study on the growing number of people who want somewhat less typical, more exotic companion pets trapsing about their living rooms. The article tracks a growing market for buying and selling different types of mantises to … play fetch? Catch a mouse? Nope – just to have a different kind of pet. It turns out it’s a little more complicated than that, and legal issues may need to be addressed within these markets, yet researchers noted there may be a real role in improving the insect knowledge base through the trend.
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Visit the CFAS Resources page for an archive of the previous edition 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.

Eric Weissman
Senior Director, Faculty and Academic Society Engagement
AAMC
eweissman@aamc.org
www.aamc.org/cfas

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