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In this edition:

Message from the Chair

Dear Colleagues,

We all recently learned that Learn Serve Lead 2021: The AAMC Annual Meeting, scheduled for November 5-9 in San Antonio, Texas, will take place in a virtual format again. I have heard from many people who were looking forward to a return to in-person interactions by this fall. Yet, given the substantial lead time necessary for preparing the enriching experience to which we are accustomed at LSL, an early decision was necessary. Better safe than sorry applies more than ever, not to mention that come fall, we will likely have to contend with increased financial austerity and larger workloads.

On a positive note, the virtual format in which we have been interacting over the past year, although not ideal, has offered CFAS the opportunity to engage with our representatives more regularly and on a broader range of topical issues. As we continue with this format, we also learn what best serves you. It has been energizing and inspiring to hear directly from you during our monthly CFAS Connects events, and during our open committee meetings. The Programming Committee and the Nominating and Engagement Committee, which are by appointment only, have been very active as well.

The Nominating and Engagement Committee is currently accepting nominations to fill four ad board positions and the Chair-elect position, aiming to have a full slate of appointments by June 1. Note that calls for nominations has been extended through April 23. Please consider nominating a colleague or yourself to keep CFAS vibrant and on track. You can find all the information to submit a nomination on the CFAS website. Also, please consider joining any of our open committees as an appointed member by directly contacting the chair of the respective committee or Eric Weissman at eweissman@aamc.org.

The Programming Committee is currently working with the AAMC’s Group on Faculty Affairs (GFA) on the details of the upcoming 2021 Council of Faculty and Academic Societies (CFAS) & Group on Faculty Affairs (GFA) Joint Meeting. Registration is now open for that meeting and I invite you to join us from April 14-16. While it’s a relatively short spring meeting compared to our past meetings, it’s a very full and wide-ranging program focused on the faculty experience during the COVID-19 pandemic and how academic health centers are transforming. There are more than 40 speakers and moderators over three days to keep the experience dynamic and to provide a wide range of different voices.

Please continue to give us your reactions on past activities, including thoughts on this 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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AAMC Leader Profile: Constance Filling, EdD, Chief Learning 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: Please describe your role at the AAMC for CFAS reps.

Constance: I serve as the AAMC’s chief learning officer. In that role, I have responsibility for learning and professional development events for AAMC’s constituents. That includes leadership development programs; the AAMC’s Learn Serve Lead annual meetings; and many meetings of the AAMC’s councils, organizations, and affinity groups. I also have responsibility for membership management at the AAMC, which entails studying who are members are, how they’re engaged with the AAMC, and how the AAMC could meet their needs as professionals in academic medicine.  

CFAS: How has the AAMC’s learning and leadership unit managed the daunting challenges of the past year?

Constance: There has been an enormous amount of change in learning environments generally during the pandemic, making some things move more quickly and others more slowly. I’ve found it interesting and impressive to watch how our members have adapted to continue providing professional development opportunities for their staff, especially as so many have travel restrictions and volatility in the work setting. The AAMC made the decision to suspend in-person meetings last spring and immediately set about the work to reconfigure our meetings and professional development events to virtual formats where possible. Doing this is exciting but also challenging.

The biggest challenge for us was finding times when our constituents could participate in meetings given everything else they were facing because of the pandemic. I feel good about what we were able to accomplish, but we are still working to make virtual participation as good as it can be. According to evaluation results, constituents have been satisfied with what we’ve been able to provide. We received strong positive feedback for LSL and heard many ideas regarding what we could do differently in the future. We are following up on those ideas as we plan LSL 2021.  

One of the learning theories that guides our work and has strong resonance with our constituents posits that learning is a social activity. Following that guidance, we structure learning programs that encourage constituents to gain new knowledge and learn from and with their peers and colleagues from other institutions. The literature shows that adults learn massively more when they’re able to learn from one another. So we will continue to incorporate peer learning as a critical component in our events.

CFAS: What are the lessons learned for convening academic medicine professionals?

Constance: We are so fortunate to have this incredible population of talented professionals who are truly eager for learning. Our constituents have a thirst for learning that makes it highly rewarding and even easy to do our job. Our constituents are willing to try new things, to experiment with us, and to learn from mistakes made along the way.

Teaching on a virtual platform is very different from in-person teaching. It has been a blessing to work with constituents who are willing to try new approaches with us and figure out what works best in our environment. Part of the challenge last year was learning about the production capabilities that were needed in addition to the technological capabilities. For example, LSL 2020 was delivered virtually six months into the pandemic. Presenters willingly adapted new approaches to their teaching by pre-taping sessions and managing Q&A sessions “live.” They were able to do this on their own, with staff at their institutions, or in some cases, with the support of professional production specialists. This was a big lift for the presenters and we are so very grateful for their willingness to adapt so quickly.

To continue providing professional development and learning opportunities during the pandemic, we had to rethink contracting, production, registration, and many other aspects of meeting planning. Again, as an example, we worked closely with our vendor partners to adapt and to support our constituent presenters with in-person taping and video production. This was especially useful for our constituents who were part of panel discussions. Going forward, we may find we need to retain people with production-level capabilities as AAMC staff, but more likely we will continue to work with vendor partners to help our constituents prepare for future LSL and professional development panel presentations and talks.

CFAS: What will the post-pandemic future of academic medicine professional development meetings look like?

Constance: I think we are right in the middle of redefining how professional development can best be provided in academic medicine. People express a strong desire to interact with their colleagues in-person again. But in-person meetings are not the only opportunities for interaction. Because of the experimentation with virtual meetings, webinars, virtual communities, town halls, and more, constituents now have different options for convening and delivering relevant or timely content. These modes of content delivery can be planned throughout the year without some of the obstacles that exist in planning in-person meetings.

For example, we have the intention of using virtual communities to allow people to continue to interact with groups of peers based on their level of interest. They may exist as formal group discussion forums or as a group of practitioners or people who informally chat from time to time and stay connected virtually. There are so many more opportunities to be explored over the next few months and years.

We are also continuing to monitor what is happening with the delivery of professional development more broadly. Based on what we know from hotel and convention center staff, a full return to “business as usual” is not expected until at least 2023 and even then, “business as usual” will have changed. Most venues are boosting what they offer in terms of virtual facilitation.

We are working closely with our vendor partners about what we need and what we think we’ll need. Working together, we are optimistic that future AAMC professional development activities will be able to take full advantage of emerging virtual and in-person learning. I’m excited about sharing those possibilities with our members and constituents over the next year.

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Registration Open for the 2021 Council of Faculty and Academic Societies (CFAS) & Group on Faculty Affairs (GFA) Joint Meeting

Registration is now open for the 2021 CFAS & GFA (Group on Faculty Affairs) Joint Meeting. The two faculty-focused AAMC affinity groups will discuss challenges faculty have faced in the past year, and what change is needed to address the new world that so many frontline faculty members, faculty affairs deans, and related staff are facing.

The meeting includes a range of session formats, including plenaries, Ignite-style sessions, breakout discussion groups, and large group discussion groups, and table topic sessions. The goal of all sessions is to address the issues that have changed the academic medicine landscape, as this extraordinary pandemic period continues to write itself.

In addition to the different session types and interactivity built into the program, the meeting features more than 40 speakers and moderators, including medical school deans and health system leaders and a range of others including a large number of speakers from CFAS and GFA ranks. We also importantly will feature many opportunities for you to interact with speakers and each other to keep the program interesting and varied.

To review the full program and to register, please visit the CFAS & GFA Joint Meeting page online.

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CFAS Connects Update

The CFAS Programming Committee continues to deliver fresh, community-developed content to CFAS reps through our monthly CFAS Connects webinar series. Most recently, CFAS-chair elect Adi Haramati, PhD, hosted AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, in a town-hall style discussion with CFAS on March 24. Summary notes and a link to the recording of that session are available on the CFAS Resources webpage.

The next CFAS Connects session will be announced shortly as a purely social event held in conjunction with the upcoming spring meeting, and then we will return to our usual programming in May. Stay tuned for details!

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CFAS Rep Profile: Richard Hamilton, MD, Professor and Academic Chair, Emergency Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine; CFAS Rep for the Association of Academic Chairs of Emergency Medicine

CFAS: What are the main pandemic “lessons learned” that stick out to you as an emergency medicine physician?

Dr. Hamilton: David Wagner, MD, who was one of the founders of the specialty of Emergency Medicine and one of my mentors, said that Emergency Medicine was a specialty that grew from patient demand. That made a big impression on me. Patients want someone with broad training in all areas of medicine and special expertise in the resuscitation of the acutely ill to be available to them 24/7. We have a saying in emergency medicine – “anyone, anything, anytime” – to reflect that. The emergency medicine mindset is that we need to work through any situation that a patient present to us.

Well, the pandemic really tested that mindset. We could not postpone our offices or reschedule surgeries. For example, we simply took lessons learned from using PPE in other outbreaks such as Ebola and put them to immediate use – often in a day! When supplies ran short, we used common sense and evidence to extend PPE use. We took concepts of field medicine to create tent hospitals and convert arenas and exhibition halls into specialty field hospitals. Our emergency department treated the first patient with Covid-19 in Pennsylvania on a Thursday in March, and we were able to transform our operations over the weekend to prepare for pandemic-size visit numbers. I think the lesson I learned is that “anyone, anything, anytime” is not just an aphorism, it is a command to the practitioners of the specialty – be prepared, be adaptable, and then deliver.
 
CFAS: Tell us about your research into the mathematical modeling of emergency departments and aerospace medicine.

Dr. Hamilton: As a student at the University of Pennsylvania, I was awarded a US Navy Health Professions Scholarship. When I graduated, I did a transitional year internship at the Navy Hospital in San Diego and then soon thereafter attended US Navy Flight Surgeon training at the Naval Aerospace Medicine Institute in Pensacola. I loved it! I was able to fly and eventually also got my civilian private pilot license. During that training, I was particularly drawn to aerospace medicine research.

I was assigned to the Naval Air Development Center in Warminster, PA, which is the site of the Navy’s human research facility with man-rated centrifuge, ejection tower, and thermal stress lab. My day often consisted of caring for the pilots and aircrew in the morning, flying in any number of test aircraft later that day, and then monitoring human subjects during aeromedical research on the centrifuge and other test platforms. As time went by, I became a bit of an expert in acceleration (G-Forces) and human tolerance. When Virgin Galactic wanted to test the idea that people other than astronauts could take suborbital flights into space, I was fortunate enough to be asked to provide them with my expertise. There is going to be an explosion in aerospace medicine research focused on space flight participant safety in the coming years with commercial space flights. Currently, I work with the National Aerospace Training Center (NASTAR) on this sort of training. I can’t wait for this pandemic to subside so we can get back to that exciting work.

The mathematical modeling of problems that face emergency medicine was something that grew out of an experience during the peak of bioterrorism concerns. After 9/11, the concern that smallpox would somehow be weaponized pushed the US government to implement the smallpox vaccination program. All healthcare workers were to be immunized against smallpox. An interesting thing happened: some health care workers refused to get vaccinated, which is something we are experiencing today with the Covid-19 vaccine!

With the smallpox vaccination program, there was an element what’s called a “non-cooperative game” and the mathematical discipline of game theory studies these concepts. To really understand this, I went about looking for someone with expertise and found my colleague at Drexel, Roger McCain, PhD, Professor of Economics. We enjoyed a great collaboration thinking about different problems in emergency medicine and wrote a research paper modeling the program and why the smallpox vaccination program might have still served as a deterrent to terrorism, even though it stopped. We then looked at emergency department overcrowding and determined that because of the structure of health care delivery in the US, emergency departments will always trend to overcrowding as an equilibrium state. Even if you add more resources and expand the emergency department or add services, it still fills to the point of overcrowding. People don’t like to hear that, but unfortunately, experience shows that it’s true.
 
CFAS: Talk about the perspective you bring to academic medicine from your experience as a retired U.S. Navy Captain and the ways academic medicine can best serve veterans.

Dr. Hamilton: I think my time at Bellevue first gave me the insight that the problems faced by my patients in the emergency department – housing challenges, behavioral health issues, food insecurity, and other challenges – were particularly overrepresented in military veterans. About 10% of people who have to subsist on the streets are veterans and even more veterans often find themselves at risk of being without a home or without food. I realized that I could serve my fellow veterans by committing to the path of practicing emergency medicine at urban academic medical centers and addressing their needs each and every day when I treat them in the emergency department. I’ve kept on that path ever since. I think academic medicine has really embraced this mission. In particular, when the opportunity is there to partner with Veterans Administration hospitals or clinics, I think academic medicine has to consider it their duty to answer that need – as they so often do now.    
 
CFAS: What are some recent accomplishments or initiatives from the Drexel University College of Medicine that would be interesting to other CFAS reps?

Dr. Hamilton: Drexel University College of Medicine is facing an unprecedented series of events and is still managing to re-invent how it teaches medicine in a real and substantive way. Drexel has as its heritage the missions of the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann Medical College. Women’s was the first medical school in the world for women and Hahnemann’s legacy was being a medical school where first generation Americans were accepted and embraced.

The link to Drexel becomes clear when you realize that A.J. Drexel founded his school based on this concept of provision of opportunity. At DUCOM, we embrace this notion fully and aim to train the next generation of physicians who seek to serve humanity with their gifts. At DUCOM, we are fortunate because we know and embrace our sense of shared purpose: to teach the art and science of the practice of medicine. And so that is what I would share with my CFAS colleagues: if you have a sense of shared purpose you can overcome challenges you cannot even imagine. I experienced a profound sense of joy when our medical students returned to the bedside during the pandemic and reconnected with the faculty across our campuses. Although no longer at MCP or Hahnemann, teachers and students alike knew why they were there. Teaching medicine is truly our noble calling.
 
CFAS: What do you like to do in your free time?

Dr. Hamilton: My wife and I love any activity that involves our four adult children – from golf to surfing (badly) on the Jersey shore. I’m a rower and love to row and race on the Schuylkill out of Crescent Boat Club – especially in single sculls. Many years ago, I finished an Ironman. Although that distance was a “one-and-done,” I still race at least one or two triathlons every year trying to beat no one but father time!

Also, a few years ago, inspired by memories of my Italian grandfather, I started making wine. The beauty of that endeavor is that making wine is about mostly allowing the wine to make itself and keeping it out of trouble. I’m proud to say that I made 24 gallons of 4 varietals of wine for my daughter’s wedding a few years ago – and everyone was delighted by it. I look back on it and wonder, what was I thinking – that could have been a disaster! I was fully prepared to go out and buy cases of wine the week of the wedding as a backup, but it worked out just fine. Great fun!

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CFAS Reps Involved in Gender Equity Work

Recently, two CFAS reps have been involved in independent research projects about gender equity in academic medicine. Rebecca S. Lufler, PhD, associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine and the CFAS rep for the American Association for Anatomy, is a PI on project studying work-life balance problems, mental health, research productivity/access issues, and other factors affecting clinical, educational, research productivity, and promotion for women.

“While there are many opinion articles that describe how the pandemic will likely adversely affect faculty, there are few data driven publications. To this end, I set out to elucidate in what ways different populations within academic medicine are affected by the pandemic. Specifically, the study seeks to answer the question: is the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affecting women in academic medicine? My colleague from Indiana University School of Medicine, Margaret McNulty, has joined me in this effort and we are hoping to not only uncover specific ways faculty have been affected, but what can be done to help. If the data shows what we hypothesize it will, the existing hurdles for women in academic medicine will be even taller,” said Dr. Lufler.

The study is ongoing. Dr. Lufler and her colleagues are in the process of drafting the manuscript and will begin data analysis soon. For those who are interested in participating, please contact Dr. Lufler at Rebecca.Lufler@tufts.edu.  

Also, Kimberly Templeton, MD, a professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Kansas Medical Center and the CFAS rep for the American Orthopaedic Association, is a PI on a project that is developing a formal survey to study gender- and race-based implicit biases in medicine for faculty and residents. The goal is to incorporate data from as many specialties as possible (not to compare specialties but to get better information overall) with each specialty being welcome to publish their own results. If you or a member of your specialty are interested in participating, please email Dr. Templeton at KTEMPLET@kumc.edu.

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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 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.

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