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In this edition:

Message from the Chair

Dear CFAS Colleagues and Friends,

As I write my January message to you, 2022 is beginning in sub-optimal fashion. Infection rates from the Omicron variant are impacting our lives and workplaces. Hospitals across the country have increased admissions and reduced workforce. A significant number of units have been forced to close because of nurse shortages. On the teaching front, my university, along with many others, has opted to return to virtual teaching until the end of January, except for sessions in the anatomy lab. And colleagues struggling to sustain research programs also face significant challenges. Many of us yearn to meet in-person, but the reality of that happening in the near future is uncertain at best. In short, the strain on all of us as faculty continues.

And yet, there are developments to celebrate and important work to do. A few months ago, the AAMC Board of Directors voted to increase the size of the Board by two seats, from 17 to 19, and designated one of the new seats for a faculty member within their first 10 years of appointment. This is a significant development and demonstrates the importance of the faculty voice to AAMC leadership. The newly selected member is Catherine Coe, MD, a family physician from the University of North Carolina. Please read Dr. Coe’s profile in this month’s Bulletin. I can tell you that Catherine stepped into her role with enthusiasm, and CFAS Chair-elect, Nita Ahuja, MD, who also serves on the AAMC Board of Directors, and I look forward to working with Catherine to provide the faculty perspective within AAMC leadership.

In terms of important work ahead, the CFAS Ad Board has been busy prioritizing the work of CFAS. The Program Committee, under the leadership of Nita Ahuja, is busy developing a robust and engaging program for our spring meeting, which will be held virtually April 11 – 13, 2022. Please mark your calendars to block that time. Other CFAS committees continue their work. For example, the Mission Alignment Committee, chaired by Stewart Babbott, MD, now has three subcommittees and is preparing some of their findings for publication and dissemination. The January CFAS Connects session led by Adam Franks, MD, covered another aspect of that committees’ work by going into detail about gender parity in promotion and tenure – a research project that a small working group of CFAS reps spearheaded several months ago.

In my message last month, I described two of my goals for CFAS. Today I wish to add a third: strengthening the faculty voice in academic medicine through synergistic collaborations with key affinity groups at the AAMC. One such entity is the Group on Faculty Affairs (GFA).

Last spring, we held a successful joint CFAS-GFA meeting that was co-planned with members from both CFAS and GFA. In an effort to continue the collaboration and build on it, I serve as the liaison from CFAS to the GFA Steering Committee, and earlier this month I attended the GFA Steering Committee retreat. There was excellent discussion about the challenges faculty face during these times. I am committed to finding opportunities for jointly addressing faculty issues, and I look forward to increased engagement between our groups. Stay tuned for more on this in the coming months.

Yours in good health and wellness,

Aviad “Adi” Haramati, PhD

CFAS Chair
Representing the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health

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AAMC, AAHC Approve Merger Agreement

The voting members of the AAMC and the AAHC (Association of Academic Health Centers) have approved a merger of their two organizations as of April 1, 2022. Under the terms of the agreement, the AAHC will become part of the AAMC. “Academic medicine is evolving rapidly, especially during this time of pandemic. This merger will enable the academic medicine community to amplify our efforts to improve the health of people everywhere through our new strategic plan and speak out even more strongly with one voice in support of the patients, families, and communities we serve,” said David J. Skorton, MD, AAMC president and CEO. Further details of this merger are available in a press statement the AAMC released last week.

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January CFAS Connects Materials Online

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, CFAS Connects returned with a presentation from CFAS Ad Board members Adam Franks, MD, and Stewart Babbott, MD, on the work of the Gender Parity group of the CFAS Mission Alignment Committee. The presentation highlighted the findings from two years' of the group's research into gender equity at U.S. medical schools. The group conducted this research using the AAMC's Faculty Roster database and specifically explored medical school promotion and tenure data relevant to gender equity.

Summary materials and a recording of the full CFAS Connects session are available on the CFAS Resources webpage.

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AAMC Leadership Profile: Jennifer Schlener, Chief of Staff

CFAS: Please describe for CFAS reps your role at the AAMC.

Schlener: I’ve been at the AAMC for 15 years this month, and I serve as chief of staff. The role adapts to the various priorities of different Presidents/CEOs as they begin their tenure at the helm. I have oversight of the Office of the President, whose functions include the Board of Directors, strategy and innovation development, internal audit, and strategic coordination of the work of our internal executive Leadership Team, of which I am a member. I’m currently engaged in activities that support the execution of the AAMC’s strategic plan, and our internal culture, including our transition to a hybrid organization. Over the last year, my primary focus has been in leading the exploration of a possible merger of the Association of Academic Health Centers into the AAMC. I also carve out a significant portion of time to lead and facilitate organizational development and leadership workshops and other activities both internally and for the AAMC’s constituents.

CFAS: What are some of academic medicine’s biggest lessons learned from the pandemic?

Schlener: The first thing I would say is how resilient our community is. We’ve seen this resilience span from our learner community to our clinicians, researchers, educators, and other institutional leaders. Second, there’s been a renewed focus on health equity, social justice, and public health. Third is the notion of flexibility and the need to pivot as needed during times of uncertainty. Many components of academic medicine have had to do this over the past two years. Another lesson learned is the gift of science and the hope that comes with it. One of my mentors used to say, “Academic medicine means hope,” and we’ve really seen that during this pandemic because of the lightning-fast development of safe, effective vaccines and treatments to curb a deadly disease in an unprecedented amount of time.

The pandemic has helped academic medicine think about how to develop and nurture our future physicians to be resilient, think about the whole person, and also care for themselves. The AAMC continues to engage and partner with other organizations such as the National Academy of Medicine to improve the well-being of the health care workforce.

CFAS: What are you most excited to see the AAMC do in the future and where do you think the opportunities for the biggest impact are?

Schlener: The most exciting thing happening now is seeing us execute a bold strategic plan. I’m particularly excited about our new Center for Health Justice, and other meaningful steps we’ve taken to begin to address some of the most vexing issues in health care broadly. We need to continue working with our member institutions to focus on access issues such as adequate mental health care and high-quality health care for all. I’m also excited to see our continued efforts to diversify the health care workforce bear fruit in the coming years.
 
CFAS: What do you like to do in your free time?

Schlener: I’m blessed to live in an idyllic part of central Pennsylvania, and I welcome the relaxation that comes from playing the piano, cooking, puzzling, reading, and golfing when it’s nice outside. My husband and I love travelling to the National Parks. Our favorite Park to visit was Denali National Park in Alaska, and we also visit the Adirondacks in New York frequently.

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AAMC Junior Faculty Board of Directors Profile: Catherine Coe, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UNC School of Medicine

Catherine Coe, MD, is one of the newest members of the AAMC Board of Directors, occupying a seat that was created specifically for a junior faculty member. CFAS led the process to generate nominees for this inaugural position in the summer of 2021 and developed a short list of finalists for the Board to consider. Dr. Coe took her seat on the AAMC Board of Directors at the conclusion of Learn Serve Lead 2021: the AAMC Annual Meeting.  

CFAS: Tell us about your experience being the new junior faculty appointee to the AAMC's Board of Directors.

Dr. Coe: I have really enjoyed my experience on the AAMC's Board of Directors thus far. It's amazing to see leaders in academic medicine think through issues and innovations to make medical education better. I'm looking forward to my tenure with the Board.

CFAS: From your perspective, what are some of the most important issues facing junior faculty members today?

Dr. Coe: I’m in my 4th year as a faculty member. The issues that are putting strain on junior faculty members right now have been present for a long time, but they have been exacerbated during the pandemic. We tend to have young families and a lot of clinical responsibilities, which does not leave a lot of flexibility. We have to figure out how to do it all while also finding research opportunities, grant funding, and mentors. During the pandemic, all of these responsibilities have continued and, in some cases, worsened. This has added to the stress of challenges with childcare and COVID-19 quarantines.

CFAS: How has the pandemic impacted family medicine and the family medicine pipeline?

Dr. Coe: General practitioners consider themselves jacks of all trades and we see ourselves as able to step in and fill various roles in the health care system. Family medicine doctors have stepped into the crisis created by this pandemic to fill myriad roles and I hope students see the impact we are having. When the pandemic started, we had a steep learning curve with respect to some new roles we had to assume, which included responsibilities such as contact tracing. At the beginning of the pandemic, we were not seeing as many patients in clinic. It seems we’re back to a new normal, but family medicine doctors are now being asked to care for COVID-19 patients because our institutions are doing everything they can to alleviate staff shortages and keep patients out of overwhelmed emergency departments and hospitals. As far as any effects on the family medicine pipeline, those will become more apparent with time. All specialties will eventually feel the effects from the pandemic because of how many students were taken out of clinical work for a period of time, but that should be resolving soon.

CFAS: Tell us about your experience helping to develop UNC’s three-year MD curriculum and how you think medical education might benefit from moving toward such a curriculum when possible.

Dr. Coe: I was involved in curriculum design as a resident and was fortunate to have a wonderful mentor who had the concept for the structure of an accelerated curriculum. This helped me develop creative thinking for curricular design. Our curriculum is a 3-year medical pathway with direct progression to one of four residency programs at our affiliated sites. After completion of residency, there’s the requirement of an additional 3 years of service with state of North Carolina. We have a mission to create physicians to serve the people of North Carolina.

I serve on a leadership board for the national consortium for accelerated medical pathway programs and this may be hyperbolic, but I really think we’re on the precipice of revolution in medical education. When I first became involved in the consortium, there were eight participating medical schools. The oldest 3-year curriculum started in 2013. Now the consortium has over 20 participating schools, all with 3-year curricula. Part of our interest in this is driven by a desire to curb medical student debt and help streamline and harmonize the continuum within medical education. We have found that graduation from a 3-year program leaves learners with less debt and they are just as prepared for residency as they would be after a traditional 4-year program. Also, their well-being is better compared to those who participate in a 4-year program.

CFAS: Are there any recent initiatives or accomplishments from UNC School of Medicine that would be interesting for CFAS reps to know about?

Dr. Coe: We are always thinking about training medical students for the future, how to shift to competency-based medical education, and how to make training and education translatable from institution to institution. We are considering a curriculum redesign focused on small group learning and we’re also building out our competency evaluation.

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

Dr. Coe: I enjoy spending time with my 2-year-old son, my husband, and our large dog. We enjoy hiking and outdoor activities and we really enjoyed traveling before the pandemic. Since the pandemic, like many people, I learned how to bake bread and have had a couple successful rounds of croissants.

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CFAS Committee Profile: A Conversation with Program Committee Chair Nita Ahuja, MD

What is the charge of the CFAS Program Committee?

The CFAS Program Committee is charged with developing the program for the CFAS Spring Meeting. The committee can also recommend to the CFAS Administrative Board the convening of special topics or thematic meetings, webinars, conference calls, or other initiatives. The committee is specifically charged with exploring new and innovative ways to engage CFAS representatives in the work of the council.

The program committee developed the CFAS Connects series at the beginning of the pandemic. CFAS Connects kept us from falling out of contact with each other. We also propose sessions for Learn Serve Lead: The AAMC Annual Meeting (LSL).

The Program Committee also has three larger goals:

  1. Identify key issues relevant to faculty and raise them to the national arena through peer reviewed publications, consensus statements, conferences, etc.
  2. Create engagement both within our community and bidirectional communication with the institutions and academic societies
  3. Be a source for professional development for our reps and use the programming we develop to attract new reps into our vibrant community.

What are some current projects or initiatives underway?

We are now planning CFAS Connects sessions more intentionally as a staple of CFAS activity. One of the observations that I had of CFAS was that although our constituency was engaged, most of our connections were limited to our spring meeting and LSL. CFAS Connects and virtual committee meetings have brought us together to be an active, timely source of information on key topics.

One of the most important things that has come out of CFAS Connects is regular presentations on the work and current projects of various CFAS committees. CFAS Connects also helps build awareness of tools and resources available to our reps, such as the AAMC’s Faculty Roster database.

What the committee is focused on now is going from having awareness of problems to solving them. In the future, our goals are to form alliances and amplify our voice in collaboration with other groups such as the AAMC’s Group on Faculty Affairs (GFA). In particular, we are also interested in working with our colleagues in the AAMC’s Organization of Resident Representatives (ORR) because these future residents are our pipeline.

What are the committee’s most important achievements so far?

  • The CFAS Mission Alignment Committee’s working groups focused on faculty, chairs, and institutional governance came from our last in person spring meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Our joint meeting collaboration with the AAMC’s Group on Faculty Affairs (GFA) for the spring meeting last year.
  • CFAS Connects
  • The ignite sessions on harassment, which were personal and made an impact.

What does the committee need from CFAS or the larger AAMC to achieve its future objectives?

It would be great if the AAMC could look at our reps as consultants and create a speakers’ bureau where our reps could be highlighted and called on to speak at AAMC meetings. It’s important to get the faculty voice to members of the public, perhaps by getting a group of faculty to write a perspective in USA Today, for example. The AAMC could also give us a Twitter handle or Instagram account so CFAS can have our own channels.

We are also thinking about the resources the AAMC could offer in terms of video production. We could create a short video on our “elevator pitch” to highlight our top 10 initiatives and accomplishments. This video could go on YouTube and begin with “CFAS to me means…” featuring some high profile CFAS alumni and current leaders. This could help us highlight our value in anecdotes and tidbits so its accessible for institutional leaders such as deans.

From CFAS, it would be great if more people reached out with ideas for meeting programming and potential speakers for meetings. It would also be great if CFAS committees could send me regular recommendations for good potential speakers.

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How CFAS Reps can Use their Full Subscription to Academic Medicine

All CFAS reps enjoy a significant member benefit: full access to Academic Medicine, an official, peer-reviewed journal of the AAMC. Each issue includes original research and scholarly opinion pieces from thought leaders, useful infographics as part of the Last Page feature, and descriptive articles focusing on a range of topics from innovative delivery models to cognitive learning theory. If you have not done so already, follow these instructions to activate your online account.

  1. Visit the Academic Medicine website at https://journals.lww.com/secure/pages/activatesubscription.aspx?ContextUrl=%2facademicmedicine%2fpages%2fdefault.aspx
  2. Enter your LWW subscriber ID or your society member ID in the box. The subscriber ID or society member ID is located on the mailing label of your print subscription. Click Activate Subscription.
  3. If you have any questions, contact the journal’s publisher at 800-638-3030 (within USA) or 301-223-2300 (international), via email at customerservice@lww.com, or browse the help center.

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Tell Us How You’re Doing During the Pandemic

During the pandemic, 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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