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In this edition:

Message from the Chair

Dear Colleagues,

You were very likely looking forward to turning the page on 2020; to leave behind the roller coaster of challenge upon challenge that the past year has been; and to welcome a new and hopefully gentler one, eager for renewal, healing, and safety. Yet January has challenged us again, with barbarous scenes of violence and chaos, scenes that have brought into crude and undeniable focus the deep divisions that separate, alienate, and antagonize us. Clearly, a new administration will not be sufficient to create the conduits for communication and understanding that allow for discourse that is both free and civil. What can we, as CFAS reps do? What can we as faculty do to bridge these corrosive divides?

These are not necessarily new questions; rather, they are old questions propelled into a new, harsher light! Over the past several years we, CFAS, have recognized increasingly how in academic medicine, our missions of education, discovery, and care are diminished and imperiled by inherited inequities, discriminatory practices, and attitudes. And we have begun to examine, recognize, and acknowledge the structural and cultural impediments to a more inclusive and equitable work place and society. We will continue to do so in 2021, with renewed motivation.

You have already seen in January a series of live participatory CFAS events where reps have shared information and knowledge. Just last week, there was an open meeting of the CFAS Resilience Committee, newly chaired by Catherine Florio Pipas, MD, and also a meeting of the CFAS Diversity and Inclusion Committee, chaired by VJ Periyakoil, MD. Both were well attended and featured rich and highly engaged conversation. Remember, these thematic CFAS committee meetings are open to all reps who wish to attend.

Also held last week was the January CFAS Connects event hosted by Dr. Pipas, which featured a broader conversation about a range of issues and initiatives related to faculty resilience and wellbeing. That session, along with notes and other resources, is now posted on the CFAS website. You also will receive appointments on your calendar shortly for the CFAS Connects session on Feb. 25 hosted by CFAS Communication Committee Chair Alan Dow, MD, and on March 25, you will be invited to a CFAS Connects conversation with AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD.

Lastly, you already have received a “Save the Date” message for the joint CFAS/Group on Faculty Affairs (GFA) spring meeting April 14-16. The joint planning committee is making tremendous progress toward creating a program that focuses on where we are now, where we are going, and what the AAMC is doing to advance faculty in academic medicine. Many more details about the meeting will be coming your way soon.

Please continue to give us your reactions on past activities, including this CFAS Rep Bulletin, and your ideas for making CFAS a more effective AAMC council. I greatly appreciate your direct feedback and look forward to hearing from you.

Stay well,

Gabriela K Popescu, PhD

CFAS Chair, 2019 - 2021

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CFAS Ad Board Meeting in December

The CFAS Administrative Board had a productive call last month, welcoming three new member societies into the ranks of CFAS: the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons, the American Association of Clinical Anatomists, and the Society of Behavioral Medicine. The Ad Board also thanked Mona Abaza, MD, and J. David Warren, PhD, for their service on the Ad Board and welcomed Serina Neumann, PhD, and Adam Franks, MD, as its newest members.

During the meeting, the CFAS Administrative Board discussed how it could align its own strategic planning effort to support the AAMC’s final strategic plan, which was released in October of 2020.

Another highlight of the meeting was the renaming of the CFAS Basic Science Committee to the CFAS Biomedical Research and Education Committee (BREC) at the suggestion of committee chair and Ad Board member Rich Eckert, PhD, to better reflect the work and constituency of the committee.

This week, the CFAS Administrative Board held its quarterly conference call with AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD. In addition to providing update on recent CFAS activities related to committees and CFAS Connects sessions, the group discussed a wide range of topics, including the political divide facing the country today, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on faculty, AAMC and CFAS programming opportunities that might address the concerns faculty have in this unprecedented period, VA policy implementation that may complicate funding for research trainees, and the notion of “mission misalignment” – the reality for many faculty of competing and often conflicting priorities.

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CFAS Connects Materials Online

Summary notes and a link to recordings of the December and January CFAS Connects sessions are available online on the CFAS Resources page at https://www.aamc.org/professional-development/affinity-groups/cfas/resources. All recordings and notes from every CFAS Connects session will be posted on that page to preserve a record of the important conversations taking place in this forum, and to provide CFAS reps who could not attend an opportunity to come up to speed with the work of the council.

The next CFAS Connects session will take place Thursday, Feb. 25, and will feature a discussion with CFAS Communication Committee Chair Alan Dow, MD. And on Thursday, March 25, CFAS Connects will feature AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, in a personal conversation with our community.

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CFAS Rep Profile: Jon Courand, MD

Jon Courand, MD, Vice Chair of Education and Training for Pediatrics, Senior CFAS Rep for the UT Health Science Center San Antonio Long School of Medicine  

In addition to serving as a CFAS school rep, Dr. Courand is closely involved in planning and programming related to the CFAS Faculty Resilience Committee given his work on defining the notion of the institutional “wellness champion.” He described his work in this area in detail during the January CFAS Connects session.

CFAS: How has the pandemic affected pediatrics?

Dr. Courand: So far, the pandemic has predominantly affected our outpatient pediatricians by reducing the number of children they see because of parental fears over catching the coronavirus at the doctor’s office. This unfortunately has resulted in delayed care for kids, including fewer kids receiving their routine childhood vaccines.

In my role as a pediatric hospitalist, we’ve had a steady flow of kids coming in with COVID, but only a few have needed to be transferred to the ICU, so our experience has not been overwhelming like our colleagues on the adult services. We have great empathy for our adult colleagues because they’re working so hard, and many of us have volunteered to help them.

CFAS: What are the trends in pediatric education and training?

Dr. Courand: Before COVID, we did a lot of flipped classrooms and group didactics. We still do family-centered rounds on the inpatient wards and these tend to be one of the richest forms of education, as we have residents and students learning at the bedside with patients and families. Something new we started doing prior to COVID is a practice called “forum theater” which is an opportunity to portray difficult situations in medicine where actors play out a scenario in front of a group of residents. Members of the audience can step in at any point and correct what the actors are doing wrong, offer feedback, or play a certain role the way they believe would be ideal.

CFAS: CFAS is one of the only groups at AAMC with significant numbers of chairs and vice chairs in its ranks – is there something that CFAS could do to increase the value of membership in CFAS to chairs and vice chairs?

Dr. Courand: CFAS has a real opportunity to galvanize leaders across the country to discuss how best to bring the well-being conversation to faculty. At the Long School of Medicine, we have wellness activities and robust mental health screenings and counseling for residents and fellows, which makes a huge difference, but it would be great to offer these same programs to our faculty providers.

For example, a well-established free and confidential counseling service would be helpful. Diversity and inclusion are crucial components to well-being and high-performance teams and should continue to be championed at every level. Finally, we should reinvigorate the discussion on a “Physician Bill of Rights,” which would help address for example: working environment, reducing stigma to access mental health care or insuring civil interactions among physician and the entire health care team. Ultimately these interventions would serve to benefit patients and families. The Long School of Medicine is currently working on such a civility program.

It would be great for chairs and vice chairs if CFAS could get behind these ideas, especially around civility requirements in medicine.

CFAS: What are some accomplishments or initiatives at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio Long School of Medicine that would be interesting to other CFAS reps?

Dr. Courand: One of the things we recently rolled out is a compassion course, a 10-month longitudinal program to teach residents and fellows about compassion for self, others, and society. We hope this will help advance compassion in action throughout our institution and train physicians who are centered, empathetic, and emotionally intelligent. Our goal is to expand this program to faculty members next year.

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

Dr. Courand: In San Antonio we have this beautiful river walk, so I like to run early in the morning along the river through downtown. We also own a ranch in far West Texas near Big Bend National Park. I enjoy going there to hike, climb mountains, and star-watch with my family. It’s nice to be somewhere so remote and disconnected from the stressful practice of medicine.

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AAMC Advocacy Materials for New Presidential Administration

A new presidential administration brings a host of challenges and opportunities for academic medicine, and the AAMC’s Government Relations team has been diligently working with members of the Biden administration to advocate for the needs of medical schools and teaching hospitals. For those who haven’t already seen, the AAMC has issued a number of statements on the pandemic relief proposals and executive actions already undertaken by President Biden. To educate policymakers about the issues facing academic medicine, the AAMC has also released its 2021 Policy Priorities to Improve the Nation’s Health and also published a PDF titled Regulatory and Executive Recommendations for the First 100 Days and Beyond.

Advocacy in academic medicine was also a prominent theme of our December CFAS Connects session. A summary of that session and the recording can be viewed at the CFAS Resources page at https://www.aamc.org/professional-development/affinity-groups/cfas/resources.

The CFAS Advocacy Committee holds regular meetings with AAMC Senior Director of Government Relations Tannaz Rasouli and is always looking for ways to educate and partner with faculty members on the important policy issues that affect their institutions. If you are interested in joining the CFAS Advocacy Committee, email the chair, Arthur Derse, MD, JD at ADerse@mcw.edu. You can also sign up for a weekly exploration of AAMC Government Relations and advocacy news by signing up for the Washington Highlights newsletter here.

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Update on Recent CFAS Committee Meetings

In the past month, the CFAS Communication Committee, the CFAS Faculty Resilience Committee, and the CFAS Diversity and Inclusion Committee have held open forum committee meetings, continuing a trend of increased engagement and activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of January, the chairs of each CFAS committee will have a retreat to strategize about the courses their respective committees should chart in this new year and how they can continue to advance the voice of faculty in the AAMC and in academic medical centers across the country.

To see a list of CFAS committees, visit https://www.aamc.org/professional-development/affinity-groups/cfas/committees and to get involved in any of those committees, simply send an email to one of the chairs, whose email addresses are listed on the page.

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CFAS Nomination Period Is Opening!

On Monday, Feb. 1, CFAS will open this year’s nomination period for new CFAS Administrative Board positions and also the chair-elect role for CFAS. Look for the details and upcoming reminders on the CFAS listserv beginning next week.

Each year, four members of the CFAS Administrative Board either complete a first term and may be renewed for a second term, or complete a second term, and will rotate off the CFAS Ad Board in November at the next AAMC Learn Serve Lead Annual Meeting. Additionally, every other year, we have the opportunity to nominate a new chair-elect to CFAS. These leadership positions within CFAS are critical to our ongoing work.

The CFAS Administrative Board position is highly collaborative and creative in nature, requiring side-by-side work with a group of 15 other CFAS Administrative Board members and other CFAS and AAMC leaders to develop the strategy, topics, focus, and administration of the council.

The CFAS chair-elect serves in a two-year term on the AAMC Board of Directors in addition to being put into the leadership line of CFAS. The chair-elect of CFAS is also responsible for chairing the CFAS Program Committee and developing programming for future CFAS spring meetings.

The new slate of CFAS leaders will be recommended by the CFAS Nominating and Engagement Committee in February and March, and the new CFAS Administrative Board members will be announced and voted upon at our 2021 joint CFAS/GFA Spring Meeting for terms that will begin in November 2021.

If you have any questions about the nomination process or nominee qualifications, please reach out to Scott D. Gitlin, MD, at sgitlin@umich.edu, or Eric Weissman, at eweissman@aamc.org.

The deadline for nominations is Feb. 21, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern.

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 eweissman@aamc.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.

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