In this edition:
- Message from the Chair
- Interview with AAMC Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher, JD
- CFAS Society Profile: The Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM)
- Joining the AAMC's Research on Care Community (ROCC) Group
- Accessing Resources for Learn Serve Lead 2020: The AAMC Virtual Experience
Message from the Chair
As you open this letter, you are likely through final examinations for the fall semester, or perhaps helping administer the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines (yes!), or patiently responding to reviewer 3! In either scenario, as the calendar year draws to a close, your plate is likely full! Congratulations on meeting the steep challenges this past semester has posed for all of us. Thank you wholeheartedly for your dedication to our students, trainees, and patients! And thank you for your continued engagement with CFAS.
Your participation in live events organized by CFAS this fall, whether CFAS Connects, CFAS committee meetings, or CFAS Tweet Chats has helped to articulate and crystalize the needs, concerns, and challenges faced by faculty in academic medicine over the past eight months. It has also prominently showcased our resilience. It was heartening and inspirational to hear from many of you who have seen opportunity in adversity and have adapted your curricula or clinic; experimented with new educational and training tools; and invested much of your time, effort, and emotional capital in supporting students, trainees, or patients. It was also clear that this success has come with tremendous costs in faculty productivity, reduced opportunities for professional development and career advancement, as well as cognitive and psychological overload.
Several of our committees are currently examining the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on junior faculty, on women, and on underrepresented minority faculty. As data are emerging on this thorny issue, many institutions have already taken measures to mitigate these corrosive effects. Continuing to work together, we can share solutions and advocate for needed change. I invite you to join us when our Communication Committee, chaired by Alan Dow, MD, meets on Jan. 12, and our Diversity and Inclusion Committee, chaired by VJ Periyakoil, MD, meets on Jan. 22.
Speaking of advocacy, our CFAS Connects session last week featured a conversation on key federal government relations and advocacy developments affecting research, clinical care, and medical education. The session was moderated by Arthur Derse, MD, JD, CFAS Advocacy Committee Chair, and featured presentations from AAMC Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher and AAMC Senior Director of Government Relations Tannaz Rasouli. A recording of it will be posted online in the coming days and will be accessible with the CFAS Connects materials on our website.
Finally, I hope you will be able to take a well-deserved break, to reflect on the closing year, and recharge for the year ahead. I am optimistic that with vaccines in hand, the experience of the past eight months, and with the support of our CFAS community we can turn the page together on what has been a uniquely challenging year.
Stay safe, stay well, friends, and happy holidays!
#CallMeDr Gabriela K Popescu
Interview with AAMC Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher, JD
“Elections have consequences,” especially when they change presidents and Congressional margins, as the 2020 elections have done. CFAS asked AAMC Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher, JD, to answer a few questions about what these changes could mean for academic medicine. Many of these topics were explored during a Dec. 17, 2020 CFAS Connects session.
CFAS: What changes, opportunities, and challenges regarding federal policymaking can academic medicine expect or prepare for considering the presidential transition?
Fisher: The elections have caused three important changes. Voters elected a new, Democratic president, reduced the Democratic majority in the House to just a few votes, and ensured a very thin Senate majority, regardless of which party takes control after Georgia’s January 5 Senate runoff elections.
Even the slimmest of majorities still empowers the majority party to largely control Congress’ policy agenda, by determining what issues get raised and how. But slim majorities also make it hard to pass legislation without bipartisan support. That is especially true in the Senate, which – with few exceptions – needs 60 votes to pass legislation.
A new administration and new Congress create new opportunities for the AAMC and academic medicine to be resources and partners in the development of sound health policy:
- Health policy issues are likely to be a major focus of the new administration. First and foremost, the President-elected established a COVID-19 transition task force responsible for recommending a strong, comprehensive federal strategy and its effective implementation at the state and local levels to contain and end the pandemic.
- The incoming administration is also highlighting the need to address issues that the pandemic has starkly revealed and that academic medicine recognizes: unmet needs in health coverage, health equity and racial justice, biomedical research, and public health infrastructure.
- A new administration and new members of Congress create opportunities for the AAMC to introduce academic medicine’s unique expertise and experience in issues affecting patient care, scientific discovery, medical education, and community collaboration.
- AAMC always works in a non-partisan manner. Our missions and commitment to evidence-based science make us trusted resources and productive partners for members of both parties.
Significant challenges remain:
- The federal government will continue to grapple with important and complex reimbursement policy issues driven by the desire to reduce health care cost growth while increasing value, such as value-based purchasing, price transparency, quality measurement, and more.
- With federal budget deficits mounting and the Medicare hospital trust fund projected to be depleted as soon as 2024, pressure for budget and entitlement reform is mounting. How the new administration and Congress address the pressure will have consequences for academic medicine and our patients.
- While the AAMC does not advocate at the state level, we recognize that states’ own fast-growing budget pressures – including increasing Medicaid enrollment in light of the pandemic and other financial constraints could require more important and needed federal investments, but also with potential concomitant impacts on other federal investments.
CFAS:What work is the AAMC doing around the presidential transition?
Fisher: We are bringing the AAMC’s academic medicine expertise on a host of issues to the official transition team members – in written communications and meetings. We already have met with the Biden team on COVID-19. Equally important, we also will be working with a new Congress – the 117th Congress – with at least 61 new Representatives and seven new Senators (two House races and two Senate races have yet to be concluded).
We have created a dedicated “transition page” on the AAMC website with materials that we are sharing with the incoming administration and lawmakers. And we are identifying and reaching out to appointees of the new administration and new members of Congress, both those known to the AAMC and academic medicine and those new to us. For example, Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, who has been selected to be the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. You can find the latest news on these efforts in our weekly newsletter, Washington Highlights.
CFAS:What are the AAMC’s advocacy priorities in the coming year?
Fisher: Before we get to priorities for 2021, we are not yet finished with issues that need to be resolved in 2020. Front and center are funding the federal government, including FY 2021 appropriations for NIH, CDC, the VA, Title VII workforce pipeline diversity, and others.
In addition, there are health care “extenders” that will have serious consequences if not addressed this year, such as continuation of community health center and teaching health center funding as well as preventing implementation of $4 billion in pending Medicaid DSH cuts.
Finally, and importantly, passage of a 5th COVID stimulus package is critically needed to address not only economic challenges but also health care issues, such as vaccine distribution, provider support, and others.
Our 2021 priorities build on the AAMC mission and values statements that focus our work on improving the health of all. The most pressing priority is achieving a strong, coherent national strategy to contain and recover from COVID-19 and its residual repercussions. Additional (and related) priorities include strengthening health coverage (including Medicare and Medicaid); continued strengthening of federal investment in NIH and other research programs; increasing and diversifying the health care workforce; raising the Medicare GME caps; continuing a strong 340B program; addressing significantly the challenges of health inequity and racial injustice in society; and investing in public health, mental health, and other infrastructure needs.
CFAS Society Profile: The Society of General Internal Medicine
The Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) is the professional home for people working to improve health through academic general internal medicine. SGIM is comprised of a learning community of about 3,000 physicians and its programs, events, and networking opportunities accelerate professional advancement for those physicians.
SGIM’s vision is for a just system of care in which all people can achieve optimal health. Its mission is to cultivate innovative educators, researchers, and clinicians in academic general internal medicine leading the way to better health for everyone.
SGIM offers a breadth and depth of benefits to its members, including access to a lifelong learning community. This community provides value to physicians at every stage of their careers. Trainee members build skills, explore career pathways, and connect with a professional network. Trainee engagement is also expanded increasing the number of complimentary memberships and meeting registration scholarships for trainees. Other programs offer mentoring and training for mid-career internal medicine physicians, with opportunities for learning, reinvention, and rejuvenation as careers evolve. SGIM also offers a peer network for members at the peak of their careers to pass on knowledge and bring leadership to programs and policies that can improve the future of academic general internal medicine.
SGIM’s career development programs enable scholars to take a year-long deep-dive into medical education, leadership, and/or health policy. In addition, SGIM’s Unified Leadership Training in Diversity (UNLTD) Program fosters diversity of academic leaders through mentorship and management training, while the Career Advising Program helps female junior faculty navigate the academic promotion process, furthering the advancement of women in medicine.
SGIM’s committees, commissions, and interest groups provide opportunities for members to join colleagues around specific areas of focus to produce white papers, policy statements, and other educational products. For example, the Health Equity Commission seeks to promote, educate, and collaborate with members to dismantle structural inequities in health, optimize outcomes of each patient-provider encounter, and pursue social justice especially for vulnerable populations.
SGIM’s National Meeting is an annual culmination of cutting-edge work featuring research, medical education and clinical practice topics in general internal medicine. At each National Meeting, there are mentoring panels that offer opportunities for students, residents, fellows, and faculty to ask questions about issues affecting general internists. Regional meetings provide additional opportunities to network and learn about research, teaching methods, and patient care issues.
Members receive free digital access to the Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM), the official journal of the society. JGIM promotes improved patient care, research, and education in primary care, general internal medicine, and hospital medicine. A monthly e-newsletter, the SGIM Forum, offers articles that reflect on health care trends, report on Society activities, and explore important issues for general internists.
GIM Connect, SGIM’s networking platform, connects thousands of colleagues worldwide. This online space offers tools for collaboration; access to general internal medicine news; and a myriad of resources, events, and career opportunities. GIM Connect also hosts SGIM’s member directory, which allows exclusive access for members to network and stay connected with colleagues around the world.
As one member said, “being a member of SGIM has enabled me to establish connections with like-minded general internists and health services researchers from throughout the country. Through participation in the regional and national meetings, SGIM continually renews my enthusiasm for academic [general internal medicine], which I can then pass down to my trainees.”
Both CFAS and SGIM are vibrant academic communities. With similar core missions and values, both organizations offer educators, researchers and caregivers opportunities to collaborate, innovate and lead. "Particularly over the last year, both organizations have enhanced peer support, problem solving and transitions to new models of learning, caring, investigating and advocating as we navigate our responses to the Covid pandemic," said Stewart Babbott, MD, a CFAS Ad Board member, chair of the CFAS Mission Alignment and Impact of Faculty Educators Committee, and the CFAS rep for SGIM.
Eric Bass, the executive director of SGIM, added "As academic general internists, SGIM’s leaders are excited about the opportunities to collaborate with CFAS because the core tenets of our mission and vision are very consistent with the core principles of the AAMC’s new strategic plan."
SGIM’s educators share a commitment to strengthening the medical education continuum for transformed health care and learning environments. SGIM’s investigators share a strong interest in advocating for the nation’s support of a full spectrum of medical research, including health services research and primary care research. Furthermore, SGIM’s advocacy efforts are focused on promoting a more equitable system of care and its members have long been leaders in advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and are eager to partner with organizations advocating for social justice and access to health care for all.
Joining the AAMC’s Research on Care Community (ROCC) Group
Many CFAS reps already may familiar with the Research on Care Community (ROCC), an AAMC group with a focus of integrating research into care delivery. Members of ROCC include researchers and clinical providers interested in translational research, application of big data, health services research, and implementation science. ROCC has over 1,200 members representing over 250 AAMC member institutions, and includes a range of leaders from academic medicine, such as CEOs, deans, chief medical officers, vice presidents, chairs, and other faculty.
ROCC advances translational research and collaboration between researchers and clinicians through programming, opportunities for engagement, and outreach. The group listserv is regularly made aware of relevant, news, funding opportunities, and other insights. To join the ROCC and receive notifications about news, programming, and ways to get involved, please complete this online form. Please also share the opportunity for engagement with your colleagues.
Future Collaborations with CFAS
Following the success of the September webinar that ROCC and CFAS co-hosted, Clinician Well-Being and Resilience: What the Data Show and How We Move Forward, we are interested in identifying other collaborations between our two groups. Anne Berry, our AAMC colleague who oversees ROCC, has been joining CFAS calls and to get to know members and discuss topics that can be highlighted in future joint programming. Please reach out to Anne (email@example.com) if you have any suggestions or would like to learn more.
Accessing Resources from Learn Serve Lead 2020: The AAMC Virtual Experience
After the conclusion of Learn Serve Lead 2020: The AAMC Virtual Experience, video recordings of sessions and other summary materials and highlights have been made available at https://www.aamc.org/professional-development/events/learn-serve-lead.
The first virtual annual meeting in the history of the AAMC, LSL 2020 offered powerful insights, presentations, and thoughtful discussions from some of the nation’s leading voices in academic medicine. Summary materials for CFAS reps are forthcoming.
Tell Us How You’re Doing in Response to the Pandemic
During this unprecedented 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 Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Eric 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.