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In this edition:

  • Message from the Chair-elect
  • CFAS Elects New Chair-elect, Administrative Board Members
  • AAMC Leadership Team Profile: Gabrielle Campbell, Chief Services Officer
  • CFAS to Hold Virtual "Society Summit"
  • CFAS Society Profile: Association of Bioethics Program Directors (ABPD)
  • Update on CFAS Connects

Message from the Chair

Dear CFAS Colleagues,

It’s an honor to communicate with you in the spot where you normally see a letter from CFAS Chair Gabriela Popescu, PhD, introducing each monthly edition of the CFAS Rep Bulletin. At the conclusion of our 2021 Joint Spring Meeting with the Group on Faculty Affairs (GFA), one of the strongest, most unambiguous messages that emerged given the historic challenges of the past year was that we should all take vacations this summer. I am glad to see Gabriela take that message to heart for a period of renewal and reenergizing.  

On a personal note, I too decided to do the same. In fact, in celebration of our 39th anniversary, my wife Claire and I travelled to the Caribbean coast of Mexico where we were able to unplug and recharge for a full week in a way that was so unusual and refreshing for us.

Most of my travel over the years – even when there has been a vacation component to it – has been linked to a professional conference or an invitation to give a lecture. But this was different. I was in a beautiful space with time to explore new landscapes, try new foods and spirits, relax, exercise, and just enjoy the time for myself with a loved one. I also took the opportunity to read a compelling book, which provided me with new insights that I plan on sharing in a future edition of the CFAS Rep Bulletin. Meanwhile, I hope all of you are finding a way to do the same over the summer months. We do need to practice and model what we believe.

Turning to CFAS, we had a landmark year despite the pandemic. Where the bulk of our work has historically taken place during in-person meetings prior to COVID-19, we found new ways to engage with you, such as through the monthly CFAS Connects sessions. Our upcoming session today will focus on important plans for the Mission Alignment Committee and its three subcommittees, and I hope many of you can join. However, we will then take a break from CFAS Connects until September, so you have one less thing on your calendar over the summer. We’re hoping you all find more ways to open your schedules – not so you can do more, but so you can do a little less, and have time dedicated to yourself and your personal endeavors.

I personally want to thank all CFAS committee chairs and committee members for keeping their consequential work moving forward. And I want to offer thanks especially to the members of the incredible CFAS Program Committee, who worked so hard over a compressed period of 4 months to plan what was by all measures an extraordinary CFAS and GFA Joint Spring Meeting. I also wish to acknowledge the CFAS Administrative Board along with the incoming Chair-elect and new Ad Board members who take their new seats in November (much more about that below). But most of all, I want to urge all of you to do what I did and what Dr. Popescu is doing right now: Please take a vacation.

Wishing you all good health and wellness!

Aviad “Adi” Haramati, PhD

CFAS Chair-elect
Representing the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health

CFAS Elects New Chair-elect, Administrative Board Members

Congratulations to Nita Ahuja, MD, MBA, FACS, on being named CFAS Chair-elect! Dr. Ahuja serves as the William H. Carmalt Professor of Surgery and chair of the Department of Surgery at Yale School of Medicine, interim director of Yale Cancer Center, and as interim physician-in-chief at Smilow Cancer Hospital. She is also a member of the CFAS Administrative Board and has made valuable contributions to the council in that capacity. Nicholas Delamere, PhD, Department Head of Physiology and a professor at University of Arizona College of Medicine and the senior CFAS rep for the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology, has been appointed to the Ad Board to complete Dr. Ahuja’s term.

The CFAS Nominating and Engagement Committee also re-appointed Steven Angus, MD, associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and the senior CFAS rep for the School of Medicine and Catherine Pipas, MD, professor of community and family medicine at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the senior CFAS rep for the American Academy of Family Physicians, for second terms on the CFAS Administrative Board.

Deanna Sasaki-Adams, MD, associate professor and section chief of cerebrovascular and skull base neurosurgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and a junior CFAS rep for the School of Medicine, and Neil Osheroff, PhD, the John G. Coniglio Chair in Biochemistry and professor of biochemistry and medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the senior CFAS rep for the School of Medicine, have been elected to their first terms on the Ad Board. And Shirley “Lee” Eisner, PhD, associate professor of cell biology at State University of New York Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine and the senior CFAS rep to the College of Medicine, has been appointed to the Ad Board to complete the term of Lumy Sawaki Adams, MD, who resigned to take a position at the NIH.

We also wish to acknowledge the excellent contributions to the Ad Board from VJ Periyakoil, MD, of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and Vera Donnenberg, PhD, of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology. Both are completing their terms on the Ad Board but we look forward to seeing their continued leadership and creative ideas in other work within CFAS.

Also in November, Adi Haramati, PhD, will take his position as CFAS Chair, Gabriela Popescu, PhD, will become Immediate Past Chair, and Scott Gitlin, MD, will rotate off the CFAS Administrative Board after many years of service as a leader within the organization.

More information, including links to bios of the new CFAS Administrative Board members, is available here.

AAMC Leadership Team Profile: Gabrielle Campbell, MBA, LLM, Chief Services Officer

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

Campbell: As the AAMC’s Chief Services Officer, I’m responsible and accountable for oversight of most of the AAMC’s programs and services that support learners and the medical schools and teaching hospitals that are interacting with learners. These programs and services include the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT®) and its various preparation programs, the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS®), the Visiting Student Learning Opportunities (VSLO®) program, Convey®, the Electronic Residency Application System (ERAS®), and the call center for all those programs.

CFAS: How has the pandemic affected the AAMC’s services such as the MCAT exam, Convey, AMCAS, VSLO, and ERAS?

Campbell: It was especially challenging with the MCAT exam because the test is delivered at physical testing facilities. Several other organizations chose to switch to remote testing, but that was for tests that were shorter than the MCAT exam. After much consideration, we decided to slightly shorten the MCAT exam but still administer the test through in-person locations while ensuring that there was always 6 feet of distance between test takers, that masks were used, and testing stations sanitized. We were able to successfully test over 100,000 people and we made sure we were in compliance with all health and safety protocols. We had auditors monitor for compliance and multiple channels where examinees could report any complaints so that we could make sure things were going well and the examinees felt safe.

We spent time scanning social media to see if anyone posted that they became infected from a testing center. The outcomes from our post-exam surveys were good: 96% of the approximately 100,000 examinees said they felt that the health and safety protocols were implemented correctly and that they felt safe in the test center.

We also had to adjust our deadlines for the AMCAS, ERAS and VSLO application services because meeting those deadlines became very challenging for all of the stakeholders. Maintaining close communication and collaboration with our stakeholders and everyone in the community to adapt the MCAT exam and the AMCAS, ERAS, and VSLO application services to the reality of the pandemic was vital.

CFAS: What are some lessons learned from your experience that would be helpful for business leaders in academic medicine to know?

Campbell: I have learned that you need to stay in very close contact with people in medical schools, admissions staff, deans, students, premeds, and premed advisors. Throughout the pandemic, we have been in constant contact with stakeholders. For example, we have sent weekly emails to admissions officers to let them know what was happening throughout the pandemic. We always try to understand everyone’s concerns. We receive positive feedback about our communication and we do multi-channel communication through social media, townhalls, phone calls, and bidirectional meetings to make sure we are hearing what’s important to our stakeholders.

CFAS: In the near future, how do you see the AAMC’s service programs and services changing or adapting to post-pandemic academic medicine?

Campbell: The pandemic highlighted the social and academic vulnerabilities of learners from certain populations and we will build on this awareness to tailor our programs and services going forward and to be more adaptable. Also, continuing to build on our success with focused communication, emphasizing the elements of transparency, will be key to providing value to our members post-pandemic. With regard to the MCAT exam, we focused on health and safety, the integrity and security of our data, and equity in terms of how different learners are impacted. For example, 20% of households in the U.S. don’t have broadband, so taking the MCAT exam in their homes would be putting certain examinees at risk because of how long the test is and the potential for the lack of strong internet connection to cause problems, especially for examinees who are economically disadvantaged. Because of this experience, we have now become much more aware of the different challenges people face as they enter their journey through medicine.

We also expanded our fee assistance program during pandemic. That provides for discounts for the MCAT exam and a free portfolio of MCAT preparatory products, 20 free AMCAS applications, and free access to our medical school admissions requirement database.

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

Campbell: I enjoy building tables, desks, and other furniture using “live edge” wood (which still has the bark attached). I’m also working toward my black belt in Taekwondo. I will hopefully have it in the next year.

CFAS to Hold Virtual “Society Summit”

On Thursday, July 22 from 1 – 4 pm ET, the AAMC and CFAS will host the second CFAS Society Summit. This virtual event will bring together CFAS-member society executives and staff for presentations and discussions with AAMC leaders, creating an opportunity for organizational leaders to convene with colleagues to align work between the AAMC, member societies, and peers.

During the event, several AAMC cluster chiefs, including Ross McKinney (Scientific Affairs), Alison Whelan (Academic Affairs), Janis Orlowski (Health Care Affairs), Karen Fisher (Government Relations), and others will describe key initiatives at the AAMC that affect specialty societies and faculty.

Attendees also will have opportunities to participate in virtual breakouts to share ideas and learn from one another. CFAS will use information from these discussions to help create programming for the upcoming year and to ensure alignment.

While the program is geared toward society executives and staff, information will be coming soon about how CFAS society reps can participate. Additionally, there will be reports and resources from the meeting available on the CFAS website after the event.

CFAS Society Profile: Association of Bioethics Program Directors (ABPD)

The Association of Bioethics Program Directors (ABPD) provides information and resources to 95 bioethics program directors in the US and Canada, acts as a clearinghouse for information, and hosts conversations among peers about issues that are important for those in leadership positions. Members of ABPD oversee centers and programs in medical schools and universities. These programs’ educational responsibilities include medical schools, graduate medical education, other graduate programs, and training programs in clinical ethics consultation at academic medical centers and other institutions. The criteria for membership in ABPD are that a potential member must direct a program that has at least two full FTE faculty.

ABPD has been especially vocal and active in 2020 and 2021 because of the many issues arising from the pandemic and recent social unrest said Barbara Juknialis, the Administrative Director of ABPD. ABPD has released statements on violence, COVID-19, and structural racism; called for a presidential bioethics commission; and created a presidential taskforce on racial equity, diversity, and inclusion in bioethics. Structural racism in bioethics has long been a major concern of ABPD, and taskforce will help to shed light on the problem and seek solutions.

ABPD is engaged in multiple other initiatives to support bioethics program directors, such as:

  • Developing a salary survey of faculty in bioethics programs at various institutions.
  • Hosting Zoom calls for members on issues related to keeping their departments afloat and managing recent setbacks to faculty careers because of the pandemic, including salary freezes.
  • Providing a crowdsourced section on its website where people can locate bioethics programs.
  • Notifying people about relevant grant opportunities.
  • Forming various taskforces on an ad hoc basis.

ABPD also offers its members access to a listserv, through which they can post questions, employment opportunities, and meeting information. ABPD also hosts semi-annual meetings that provide opportunities for bioethics programs to be featured in a national spotlight. The meetings also include panel discussions and other presentations that address the most pressing issues in bioethics.

Arthur R. Derse, MD, JD, a board member of ABPD and a member of the CFAS Administrative Board representing ABPD, who is a professor of bioethics and emergency medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, shared some of the most pressing issues facing bioethics program directors today. Much of the most challenging work has been around delineating and addressing the ethical challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including considerations of justice and equity in allocation of health care resources, such as ventilators and vaccines. Many bioethics program directors were instrumental in the development of state and hospital policies to address these challenges.

“Other current, important issues are the result of technological advances, whether providing new forms of treatment that might prolong life, such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), new interventions in human genetic somatic cell modification to treat or prevent disease, such as blindness or sickle cell disease, and reviewing the definition and application of the determination of brain death and circulatory death and its implications for organ transplantation,” said Dr. Derse.

Dr. Derse also described areas of collaboration between ABPD and CFAS, such as ABPD’s sponsorship of annual educational presentations in bioethics, health policy, and medical humanities at the AAMC’s annual Learn Serve Lead meeting and the ABPD’s advocacy for policies that support bioethics-related education in medical schools and graduate schools.

“Our bioethics program directors have opportunities to educate and advocate for scientific inquiry, respect for human subjects, benefit to patients, prevention of harm, and fair allocation of scarce resources. The opportunity to add our perspective to AAMC initiatives and to sign onto AAMC letters to governmental leaders helps to amplify our voices on issues of common concern,” said Dr. Derse.

Update on CFAS Connects

After the June 24 CFAS Connects session, we will put the virtual series on a pause for the duration of the summer and resume in the fall. These webinars have been particularly well-received as a way to keep the CFAS community connected during these challenging times. We welcome any and all suggestions for how to continually improve this offering, including session ideas, speaker suggestions, and format changes. Meeting notes and links to recordings of every CFAS Connects session can be found on the CFAS Resources webpage.

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.

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.

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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