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In this edition:

Message from the Chair

Dear Colleagues,

With the 2021 CFAS and GFA Joint Meeting successfully behind us, we are already planning for year-round CFAS Connects sessions, ongoing work within and across our thematic committees, and the upcoming Learn Serve Lead 2021: The AAMC Annual Meeting in November.

I hope you found the materials from the spring meeting useful. You can continue to access these on the CFAS Resources webpage. As your formal evaluations for this meeting are being processed, the Program Committee met in mid-May for a qualitative assessment and knowledge sharing. The committee also needed your opinion and they had the opportunity to ask for it during our May CFAS Connects session on May 19. Thank you for your clear message! We heard that, as effective as remote communication technology has become, it cannot substitute for the benefits of in-person meetings. We will work with AAMC staff to begin planning for safe and affordable ways to meet in person to maximize your participation.

Having said that, it’s important to note that remote communication over the past year has very much facilitated your participation in the thematic CFAS committees. Because of this participation, it is remarkable to see how the projects arising from these committees align very well with what you consider to be threats to our missions within academic medicine. Earlier this month, I convened all the CFAS committee chairs to discuss possible next steps in building upon this positive momentum. We agreed that going forward it will be important to increase coordination across CFAS committees and to begin collaborations on issues of common interest with like-minded groups within the AAMC.

A first step in this direction is the launch of a one-year program that seeks to examine how faculty, department chairs, and shared governance bodies can be more proactive in advocating for what they see as essential to the mission alignment of faculty as educators. This initiative will be led by Stewart Babbott, MD, the chair of the Mission Alignment of Faculty as Educators Committee, who will announce the initiative in a forthcoming communication, describe the project in more detail, and explain how you can get involved with any of the three work groups. This project may also engage GFA members, so if your Faculty Affairs dean is an active member of this group, please consider working together on this project.   

Also in May, the Nominating Committee presented to the Administrative Board the slate of candidates for our next Chair-elect and for the four open positions on the Administrative Board. All CFAS reps received ballots on Tuesday to vote on the 2021-2022 CFAS leadership, including a new CFAS Chair-elect. We expect to have a full slate of appointments by June 1, which will take effect November 11, after Learn Serve Lead 2021: The AAMC Annual Meeting. If you have not already voted, you may access the ballot and information about the nominees here. As a CFAS rep from a school or society, you are eligible to vote through Monday, May 31.

Thank you for your generous feedback and suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you on how we can make CFAS a more inclusive and effective council. I greatly appreciate your involvement.

Please continue to stay well,

Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD
CFAS Chair, 2019 – 2021

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CFAS Mission Alignment Committee: Join a Subcommittee to Explore Faculty, Chairs, and Governance

The CFAS Mission Alignment Committee met on May 19 to discuss a new year-long project it is taking on under the leadership of Committee Chair and CFAS Administrative Board Member Stewart Babbott, MD. Considering that mission alignment is a dynamic and interconnected process in this ongoing era of mergers, acquisitions, and organizational changes where we appear to be enlarging scope from “Academic Medical Centers” to “Health Systems with Academics,” what must faculty do to be clear-eyed and proactive when advocating for the role of faculty as educators?

With this in mind, the committee will look specifically at three focus areas: faculty; chairs; and institutional faculty governance to find answers to this question. Over the course of a year, three subcommittees will meet to discuss each of these areas and will combine forces at certain intervals to align their work. The goals are to:

  • Define key issues in current state for each of the groups, with attention to mission alignment or mission friction
  • Discuss how each group interacts with the other two groups
  • Assess what we can learn from each group’s perspective and key issues in interaction with the other two groups
  • Offer approaches to address mission alignment issues, collaboration and communication

In the end, each subcommittee will present a set of to-be-determined work products, such as findings presented as a report or whitepaper, or perhaps even a manuscript intended for peer-review publication. Those products will be considered in their totality and the committee will determine a best course of action to proceed in an effort to make change.
 
Dr. Dina Calamur of St. Louis University will lead the faculty focus; Dr. Vin Pellegrini, former CFAS Chair of the American Orthopaedic Association and faculty member at Dartmouth will lead the chair focus; and Dr. Mark Danielson, faculty member at Georgetown University, will lead the institutional/faculty governance focus.   

If you are interested in joining any of these groups, please send an email to Eric Weissman at eweissman@aamc.org.

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CFAS Rep Profile: Eileen Cowan, MD

Assistant Professor of Neonatology and Newborn Nursery, Associate Fellowship Program Director, Integrated Block Leader (Course Director) for Human Family Tree, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health; CFAS Rep for University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

CFAS: What has been your experience through the last year and a half as an associate program director?

Dr. Cowan: I’m the associate program director for the NICU fellowship at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. It’s been remarkable serving in that role during the pandemic. Our fellows and faculty have been very resilient during the pandemic. In the beginning, the pandemic provoked a lot of anxiety for everyone, but we adapted by moving all our lectures to virtual platforms and by moving schedules around so there would always be someone to fill in. We now have a schedule that works for everyone!

I’m also an integrated block leader, which means that I’m the course director for an integrated course in the medical school. The course is called Human Family Tree and it covers embryology, genetics, early pregnancy, childhood growth and adolescence, puberty, geriatrics, and cancer.

CFAS: What are some of the trends in neonatology?

Dr. Cowan: In neonatology, the drug surfactant is very important to keep premature infants alive by keeping their lungs open. To give surfactant, you typically must intubate an infant, but our hospital and others are working on being able to provide surfactant via an aerosolized route, which hopefully will lead to less intubations. There’s also a national study examining the safety and effectiveness of therapeutic hypothermia for premature infants with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and results from that study that should be coming out soon. These are exciting things coming up on the horizon.

CFAS: Talk about your experience being involved in the CFAS Mission Alignment Committee’s Gender Parity group.

Dr. Cowan: CFAS has really been valuable to me and the work that it does is very important. Eric Weissman and CFAS Mission Alignment Committee Chair Stewart Babbott, MD, directed me to this committee when I reached out to Eric at the beginning of the pandemic. The Gender Parity group led by Adam Franks, MD, was very welcoming. We worked hard to meet monthly and then more frequently as our paper was moving along. The group is very accommodating and the work we’re looking at is so important, especially now. When we publish our findings, I’m hopeful that it will set in motion some much needed change in academic medicine with regard to gender equity.

During my time with CFAS, I’ve learned the council has a big role in the medical community and provides room for senior and junior faculty members to be heard together, network together, and create a collective voice. I believe this voice is so important for the medical community.

CFAS: What are some notable recent accomplishments from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health that would be interesting to other CFAS reps?

Dr. Cowan: The medical school is hiring a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) director and is making DEI in general a major priority.

CFAS: What do you like to do for fun?

Dr. Cowan: I wish the pandemic was over, because normally I play in outdoor and indoor volleyball leagues in Wisconsin and I do a lot of running. Recently, I’ve been working on completing a half-marathon in under two hours. I also enjoy spending time with friends and family.

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CFAS Connects: Summary of 2021 CFAS and GFA Joint Meeting

The most recent CFAS Connects session took place Wednesday, May 19 and facilitated a conversation on how to replicate the success of the spring meeting and make future meetings similarly engaging and high-impact. The session was moderated by Eric Weissman and featured speakers were CFAS reps Lee Eisner, PhD; Evelyn Granieri, MD; and Laura Shaffer, PhD.

Notes from the session and a link to the recording will be posted on the CFAS Resources webpage before the end of the week.

Additionally, resources from the 2021 CFAS and GFA Joint Meeting are now online, including PowerPoint presentations that can be adapted for sharing at your home institution. We want to thank everyone who was involved in the meeting for making our first joint virtual meeting a huge success!

The joint spring meeting received very strong positive reviews. On a scale of 1 – 5, 1 representing “strongly disagree” and 5 representing “strongly agree,” meeting participants voted:

  • 4.33 for the statement “Overall, I was completely satisfied with this program.”
  • 4.32 for the statement “I benefitted from conversations with my colleagues involved in AAMC affinity groups different from mine.”
  • 4.64 for the statement “The program was well-organized.”
  • 4.35 for the statement “The content was relevant to my role/responsibilities.”
  • 4.08 for the statement “The program provided sufficient opportunity for professional interaction and networking.”

The CFAS Connects session focused on lessons learned from the virtual meeting with an eye toward future plans for CFAS meetings. About 50 CFAS reps participated. Much of the conversation focused on the benefits and downsides of virtual meetings, as we actively explored preferences within the CFAS community for an in-person vs. virtual spring meeting in 2022.

The consensus was a clear preference for in-person meetings. While many people enjoyed the virtual meeting we held in April, they noted that it was sometimes difficult to be completely focused on the program with all the distractions of being home or in the office, and people genuinely missed the ability to engage in hallway conversation before and after sessions, and other perks of in-person networking.

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CFAS-Member Society Meeting Plans

And on the topic of meetings, earlier in May, CFAS posed some questions in an informal survey to member societies: What are your plans for 2021 and 2022 meetings? Are you hoping to meet in-person or will you likely have virtual meetings given ongoing concerns related to either budgets or the pandemic? Close to 30 societies responded, and we compiled what they had to say in one place available on the CFAS website. The consensus: Most societies are rounding out their 2021 with virtual meetings, though a few are holding hybrid and in-person meetings later in the year. In 2022, plans are proceeding for in-person meetings for the most part.

If you would like to add your society plans to the mix, please email them to Eric Weissman at eweissman@aamc.org. CFAS is uniquely positioned to collect this kind of information, and we heard through the process that societies were very interested in learning what approaches their peer organizations are planning.

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.

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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 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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