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In this edition:

Message from the Chair

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for making our 2021 CFAS & GFA Joint Spring Meeting a success! For several years now, our Administrative Board and Program Committee have considered organizing a joint meeting with the AAMC’s Group on Faculty Affairs for all the obvious reasons related to the faculty focus and the alignment of our work. Such a collaboration could not have been more timely and more impactful than this spring, as we are collectively emerging from a global pandemic that has had a profound impact on faculty in academic medicine. The conference, even if virtual, offered the needed space to reflect together on the challenges and successes of the past year, acknowledge current realities, and reconsider our priorities.

I am thankful to AAMC leadership and staff for engaging with faculty and faculty affairs deans, sharing information, and also listening to and learning from our experiences. And it was a privilege for me to team with GFA Chair Dr. Elza Mylona to bring many of your questions directly to Dr. Larry Jameson, Chair of the AAMC Board of Directors, and Dr. David Skorton, AAMC President and CEO, in a plenary session we co-moderated. Time did not allow us to get to all of your questions and comments; however, in contrast to our in-person format, the virtual setting allowed us to capture all your comments, suggestions, and requests, and we are weighing mechanisms to communicate all the learning that has come from them back to you.

Many of you wrote to tell us of your pleasant surprise that despite the virtual format, you could still enjoy the opportunity to see colleagues from across the country, and to communicate with them in real time. Please continue to offer us feedback on how we can best support your role as faculty representatives. Speaking of support, in the next couple days, you will receive instructions on how to access meeting materials in the form of summary PowerPoints, links to recordings of all the sessions, and other resources from our meeting.

While we are still processing the experiences and lessons from the spring meeting, our two structural committees, the Nominating and Program Committees, continue their work with two important activities. Members of the Nominating Committee are considering your proposals for our next Chair-elect and four open positions on the CFAS Administrative Board. The committee will be meeting in early May to propose a slate that will be reviewed by the Administrative Board, and then you, as the CFAS representative community, will have a chance to approve the slate in an online vote of acclamation. We expect to have a full slate of appointments by June 1, which will take effect on November 10 after the Learn Serve Lead AAMC Annual Meeting. And members of the Program Committee are considering future sessions for our monthly CFAS Connects series and for Learn Serve Lead 2021.

In the past year, our CFAS Connects sessions have reflected the work of our thematic committees. If you have not yet done so, please consider engaging with our committees by writing directly to the respective chair or to Eric Weissman. The virtual format has made it possible for our committees to meet almost monthly, and we can all participate from our favorite chairs! Active participation in committees is a wonderful opportunity to make your voice heard, to speak for the faculty you represent, and to exercise leadership at a national level.

As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions. Please continue to give us your reactions on past activities, including this bulletin. Your direct feedback and ideas make CFAS a more inclusive and effective council. I greatly appreciate your input and look forward to hearing from you.

Stay well,

Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD
CFAS Chair, 2019 - 2021

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2021 CFAS and GFA Joint Meeting Concludes

The 2021 CFAS and GFA Joint Meeting took place April 14 – 16, bringing together a total of 297 representatives from CFAS, GFA, and the AAMC to discuss the experiences faculty have had during the pandemic, how institutions are changing and responding to the extraordinary year we’ve all lived through, and what the AAMC can do – strategically and in terms of advocacy – to address the changed landscape and the inevitable change still to come.

The meeting offered tremendous opportunities for engagement and discussion among participants and speakers, and featured plenaries, ignite-style sessions, and other presentations on the state of faculty; the transformation of academic health centers; diversity, equity, and inclusion in academic medicine; faculty well-being; and an update on the implementation of the AAMC’s strategic plan from AAMC leadership. The meeting also featured numerous small group discussions, virtual table topics, and extensive Q&A opportunities to replicate in a virtual environment the valuable networking and collaborative experience that’s typically a part of CFAS spring meetings.

As always, we will make available in the coming days numerous resources to share with your society and faculty peers. Summaries of the meeting, including a PowerPoint presentation, will be posted and available for download for CFAS reps on the CFAS Resources page. Recordings of most meeting sessions are currently available here (free to those who registered for the meeting).

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AAMC Leadership Team Profile: Alison J. Whelan, MD, Chief Academic Officer

Editors Note: the CFAS Rep Bulletin has periodically included profiles of AAMC cluster chiefs and other AAMC leaders to provide the CFAS community with a greater sense of the AAMC’s work and how it impacts faculty and CFAS representatives. If you would like to see a particular AAMC staff member profiled, please send a note to Alex Bolt and Eric Weissman.

CFAS: Tell us about your role leading the AAMC’s Academic Affairs cluster and efforts to merge with the Medical Education cluster.

Dr. Whelan: I began in the role of AAMC Chief Medical Education Officer four-and-a-half years ago and was initially leading the Medical Education cluster. With the departure of John Prescott, MD, our former AAMC Chief Academic Officer, the Academic Affairs cluster is merging with the Medical Education cluster under my leadership. For the first six months of this year we have been figuring out how this new merged cluster can do an even better job of leading and serving academic medicine and supporting and driving needed change.

CFAS: As we hopefully emerge from the pandemic soon, what does the future look like in terms of the structure and functions of an academic medical center?

Dr. Whelan: The pandemic challenged essentially everything we do and one underlying theme that has emerged is recognizing the importance of our people – our learners, our staff and faculty, our academic leaders and the communities they serve. All those groups have responded to the pandemic with creativity and innovation—we need to harness that creativity and nimbleness as we move forward. But  all those groups are stressed as well, which has made it even more clear we need to not just lead but serve.

During the pandemic, certain areas of focus have been even more dramatically spotlighted, such as racism and violence against marginalized communities as well as learner and faculty wellbeing. Another result of the pandemic has been that labs and clinics have had to work differently and be innovative and nimble around how to deliver on academic medicine’s core missions and values.

CFAS: How, in your view, can an academic medical center realize mission alignment?

Dr. Whelan: There is always going be a natural tension between the different mission areas in a medical school. The more everyone understands about each other’s missions  and how they all connect to the single shared mission of their institution and academic medicine as a whole, the more productive and effective the will be. It’s also critical to understand how each mission area is intertwined and interdependent. Everyone has to understand a single, shared mission and leaders from the dean’s office down to the department level should be appropriately transparent in their decision-making. They should also educate their staff members on how all the missions are aligned so that people understand why resources are going to certain places and not others at a given moment.
 
CFAS: What advice do you have for faculty members in post-pandemic academic medicine?

Dr. Whelan: For faculty, it’s important to think about what you can do individually for your institution and what you can do individually for yourself. The pandemic has been challenging in ways we couldn’t anticipate. We have to be honest and gentle with ourselves as individuals. Giving yourself permission to stop and pause. Seek help when needed. And model these self-care efforts for your colleagues, staff, and learner.  

To bolster their wellbeing by reconnecting with their larger purpose, faculty members should pause and reflect on what they’ve learned about what really matters in their work and workplace. Always think about what you want moving forward as a person and as a faculty leader. Advocate for system change and work with others to drive it.

In terms of leadership, take time to develop leadership skills and take advantage of professional development opportunities. Networking and mentoring are even more important for faculty members to focus on in post-pandemic academic medicine.

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

Dr. Whelan: I love to travel – for work and for fun! I miss visiting different institutions through AAMC travel. I also really like the outdoors and I like being physically active through biking, cross country running, and skiing. Those activities enable me to do what I really like, which is try different kinds of food! I also love to read fiction and spend time with my family and three adult kids.

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AAMC Responds to Guilty Verdict in George Floyd Murder Trial

Upon the conviction of Derek Chauvin on charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd last year, the AAMC issued a statement addressing the impact of a racial reckoning and its connection to public health. “Our nation held its breath as it waited for the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd. The verdict of guilty on all three counts delivered a measure of justice in a case that has held worldwide attention and moved our country closer to a racial reckoning that has been centuries in the making. Although this verdict was a relief to those seeking accountability for the terrible circumstances that caused the needless murder of another Black person at the hands of police, no verdict or judgment can bring George Floyd back. Our thoughts continue to be with his family. This trial is the culmination of but one story — a single example of a situation that plagues Black people in our society. We have much work to do to ensure that someday this type of incident will cease to be a part of life for the Black community. We must hasten the coming of that day, and those of us in health care have a special role to play,” said AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD.

Read the AAMC’s full statement here.

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CFAS Profile of American Geriatrics Society (AGS)

The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) represents more than 6,000 health professionals who are devoted to improving the health, independence, and quality of life of older people. These professionals include geriatricians, geriatric nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers, family physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, internists, and specialty physicians who are experts in advanced illness care for older individuals.

The AGS advocates for programs and policies that support all of us as we age and provides its members with educational opportunities and clinical tools; a sense of community and opportunities to connect to other AGS members; and mentoring and other opportunities to help members advance in their careers. The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society is the premier journal in clinical geriatrics. A complete list of AGS Member Benefits is available at www.americangeriatrics.org/benefits.  

The AGS has long advocated for adequate funding for the geriatrics workforce through the Geriatrics Academic Career Awards and the Eldercare Workforce Alliance, which is co-convened by Nancy Lundebjerg, the AGS Chief Executive Officer. Other workforce priorities include:

  • Restoring the Medicare primary care bonus payments to create a more stable environment and provide an incentive for new clinicians to enter and stay in primary care, including geriatrics.
  • Requiring that GME training includes geriatrics principles for all appropriate trainees to prepare a workforce that is competent to care for older people.
  • Championing the direct care workforce. The AGS has called for increased compensation and benefits, more training opportunities, and the creation of career ladders. “Direct care workers, who are predominantly women of color, comprise the backbone of hands-on care for older people,” Lundebjerg noted.  

Last year, like many CFAS member societies, the AGS responded to the death of George Floyd with a statement denouncing race-related violence, noting that we can and must do more to address systemic racism in health care. As a first step, the AGS expanded its vision for a future where ageism, ableism, classism, homophobia, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other forms of bias and discrimination no longer impact health care access, quality, and outcomes for older adults and their caregivers.

“We wanted to take an action that put our commitment as an anti-discriminatory organization front and center in our work, said Evelyn Granieri, MD, the AGS representative to CFAS and Professor Emerita at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “The AGS has long focused on eliminating ageism in health care and this expanded vision is in keeping with the AGS’s focus on advocating for programs and policies that meet the needs of the older people our members serve.” The AGS also took immediate action and launched a multi-year, multi-pronged initiative that is focused on understanding and addressing the intersection of structural racism and ageism. This initiative includes a 10-year goal that 100% of research presented at the AGS annual scientific meeting and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society will reflect diversity in the study population.

“If I could bring one message to CFAS reps it is that we can and must do more to address ageism, racism, and other bias in our health care system,” said Dr. Granieri. “During the first 100 days of the pandemic, I worked on the frontlines caring for people with COVID-19 and that experience punctuated that we don’t teach very well about caring for those who are aging, much less about those who are facing death or are in the process of dying, which is especially challenging when patients are older and have cognitive impairments. There is no doubt that this lack of expertise contributed to the moral distress and moral injury that clinicians everywhere experienced during the pandemic.” 

Dr. Granieri believes that another lesson from the pandemic is that institutions should embrace geriatrics principles as a core knowledge base that all trainees should master if we are to improve health care for all of us as we age. She noted that this is a challenge given the focus on clinical productivity at most academic medical centers and the use of metrics that are often based on clinicians who are caring for a younger population that needs less coordination of care across the health care workforce and settings of care.

But progress had been made on introducing new codes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule that pay for non-face-to-face care, such as chronic care management services, that is essential to the care of patients with multiple chronic and complex conditions. “As a primary care specialty, it’s difficult recruiting the next generation because of the low reimbursement for cognitive care,” Dr. Granieri said. “Although geriatrics as a career is highly rewarding, young physicians are graduating with a great deal of debt and, quite frankly, we have not valued primary care and other cognitive services in the way that we should. Sadly, this translates into hospitals not seeing an immediate ROI from an investment in geriatrics and the downstream benefits geriatricians offer a hospital by providing better overall care to older adults. These downstream benefits are often overlooked because there is no way to quantify the impact of geriatrics on preventing re-admissions, reducing iatrogenic events in the hospital, or any of the other measures that are commonly used as levers for improving care.”

In terms of how AGS and CFAS could work together, Lundebjerg noted that there is much to be done to reduce ageism and other forms of discrimination in health care. “The AAMC should be at the forefront of improving the care of older Americans by ensuring that medical schools are truly training across the lifespan and providing graduating medical students with the core competencies that they will need to care for the growing population of older adults,” Lundebjerg said. “We have long appreciated AAMC’s leadership of the Health Professions and Nursing Education Coalition. This work aligns with our focus on ensuring adequate funding for the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) and the Geriatrics Academic Career Awards (GACAs) with the Eldercare Workforce Alliance which I co-convene.”

Lundebjerg also noted that the AGS is currently updating the geriatrics core competencies that had been developed in collaboration with the AAMC with a focus on aligning these with the 4Ms (What Matters, Medication, Mobility, and Mentation). The 4Ms are the hallmark of how geriatrics health professionals care for older people with Multimorbidity (the 5th M) and they form the foundation of the Age-Friendly Health Systems movement, which is being led by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement with funding from The John A. Hartford Foundation.  

“I believe that the AAMC has a critical opportunity to reshape medical education so that the next generation is equipped to care for older adults, is trained in academic systems free of bias, and works in health care systems that are free of racism and other forms of discrimination,” Dr. Granieri said. “CFAS is the right group within the AAMC to lead this work and achieve the broader vision that academic medicine needs to fully embrace and move forward if we want to ensure our next generation is better prepared to care for older adults at the intersection of ageism, racism, and other forms of discrimination.”

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Congress Relaunches Academic Medicine Caucus

The AAMC issued a statement on the re-launch of the Congressional Academic Medicine Caucus. “The AAMC thanks Reps. Castor and McKinley for re-launching the bipartisan Congressional Academic Medicine Caucus and serving as its co-chairs. The caucus is dedicated to recognizing the important role that medical schools, teaching hospitals, and their faculty physicians play to improve the health of people everywhere and to help our nation address public health challenges and crises. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, academic medicine defined the frontlines—conducting the research that furthered vaccines and treatments and providing care for patients. This caucus provides a forum for congressional members and staff to engage in a constructive and educational dialogue about the opportunities and challenges surrounding key issues that impact the academic medicine community and the patients they serve—including the health care workforce, medical research, health care delivery, health equity, education, and more,” said AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, and AAMC Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher, JD.

Read the full AAMC statement here.

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Upcoming CFAS Connects Session

CFAS Connects will return Wednesday, May 19 from 3-4 pm EDT. Given our effort to have a topical conversation, we’re still determining what the focus will be, but as we have done with our past events, we will bring you expert from the CFAS community to explore a critical issue facing academic medicine faculty today. As always, your input and contributions through the chat function and through questions asked through Zoom will be encouraged. All past CFAS Connects sessions are available as recordings with accompanying notes on the CFAS Resource page.

Kudos to VJ Periyakoil, Vin Pellegrini, and William Merrick

An Academic Medicine paper published last year on gender-based microaggressions whose co-authors include VJ Periyakoil, MD, on the CFAS Administrative Board, and Vincent Pellegrini, MD, former CFAS chair, received the ABIM Foundation John A. Benson Jr., MD, Professionalism Prize in Research.

And congratulations to William Merrick, PhD, for being named to the first class of fellows of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). Dr. Merrick is the CFAS rep for ASBMB, a member of the CFAS Biomedical Research and Education Committee, and a professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Have you received an honor or award from your society or school? Or have you published a recent paper that you’d like to share with your CFAS colleagues? Please send a note to Eric Weissman or Alex Bolt and we’ll let the rest of the CFAS community know.

Tell Us How You’re Doing in Response to the Pandemic

During this public health crisis, we ask you to keep the lines of communication open so we can provide you with the resources and information that would be most useful. It is helpful for the AAMC to understand in detail what is happening on the ground at the medical schools, teaching hospitals, and academic societies we serve. Please email Eric at eweissman@aamc.org, or call directly at 301-437-2572 with updates or feedback from your perspective. You can also reach out with questions or comments to CFAS Communications Specialist Alex Bolt.

If you are looking for information about CFAS, find what you need on our website, from the names of CFAS leaders, to updates on committee and working group initiatives, to upcoming offerings and meetings, and finally, current and previous editions of CFAS News.

Do you have an article or study coming out? A new promotion or professional accomplishment? Let us know and we’ll feature it in an upcoming edition of the CFAS Rep Bulletin.

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