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In this edition:

Message from the Chair

Dear CFAS Colleagues and Friends,

It is with some trepidation that I write my last letter as Chair of CFAS given that our regular leadership transition is scheduled to take place immediately after the 2021 Learn Serve Lead AAMC Annual Meeting. There is some sadness as with the end of any meaningful and highly satisfying endeavor. Yet, I am a firm believer in the salutary power of limited terms of service, which allows for healthy rotation of duties, regular refreshing of styles and approaches, and access to a broader diversity of perspectives. On this account, I step aside confident the slate of CFAS leaders who will assume responsibilities on Nov. 10! But mostly, I feel deep gratitude for the privilege to have led a young and dynamic CFAS over the past two years, and enormous pride in what we accomplished together.

If you had a chance to join us at the Business Meeting on Oct. 20, you know that CFAS enjoys strong, diverse, and engaged representation from both academic societies and medical schools, and that we can look back at many successful events and accomplishments over the course of the extraordinary past two years. I am particularly grateful to Adi Haramati and the Program Committee he chaired last year for a tremendous joint meeting with GFA in the Spring, and for a series of informative, and engaging CFAS Connects Series, all of which are available to re-experience online. I have every confidence that our new incoming CFAS chair-elect, Nita Ahuja, will be just as successful in coming up with a program that will similar engage and inspire our community in April 2022.  

Also, I want to thank and commend Scott Gitlin and the Nominating and Engagement Committee he chaired, for a clearer, stronger, and more streamlined structure of our open CFAS Committees, and for an amazing slate of new leaders. I additionally want to extend special thanks and appreciation to all the chairs of topical CFAS Committees, their dedicated core members, and truly to all of you who gave of your time, energy, talent, and experience to make CFAS the Voice of Faculty in Academic Medicine.

Lastly, I want to thank the dedicated and tireless CFAS staff who have made this success possible. Special thanks to Eric Weissman who, as senior director of faculty and academic society engagement, orchestrates the intricate inner workings of our still-young organization. And many thanks are also due to Engagement Specialist Stephen Barry for keeping our membership database in order and managing the logistics of CFAS; Communications Senior Specialist Alex Bolt for creating so many of our communications and special events, such as CFAS tweet chats; and Lead Specialist for Implementation Research and Policy Anne Berry for her leadership in several of our committees, including facilitating a new AAMC publication on “wellness champions” that will emerge from the CFAS Faculty Resilience Committee later this week. Finally, as an AAMC Board of Directors member for the past four years, I have gotten to personally know the AAMC Leadership Team, including AAMC Chief Scientific Officer Ross McKinney, who is a tireless supporter of faculty issues and provides critical guidance and support to the CFAS community at the executive level of the AAMC.  

Going forward, please mark your calendars for our ongoing activities. I hope you will join us at LSL, where several of our CFAS colleagues will be participating in breakout sessions on the main program – see below for details on those sessions. CFAS Connects also will continue its monthly live sessions under the leadership of Nita Ahuja and the Program Committee she now chairs. Please also join us at the various monthly or bi-monthly live CFAS Committee meetings. And I hope you continue to open our monthly CFAS Rep Bulletin, for updates on our activities, profiles of our society members and individual reps, and critical information on AAMC activity that directly affects your role as a faculty member. I know I will look forward to updates and insights, as this new publication continues to grow and keep us informed and connected.

Having said that, I look forward to stepping into my upcoming new role as Chair of the Nomination and Engagement Committee, and will continue to count on your support and engagement with the organization. I strongly believe that “once in CFAS, always in CFAS,” such that whether in a formal capacity or not, we will remain committed to speaking for and giving voice to the faculty in academic medicine.
 
Stay well,

Gabriela K Popescu, PhD

CFAS Chair, 2019 - 2021

New Junior Faculty Member to be Seated on AAMC Board of Directors

The AAMC recently announced its new Board of Directors, which will be formally seated at the close of the AAMC’s Learn Serve Lead Annual Meeting on Nov. 10. In addition to incoming CFAS Chair Adi Haramati, PhD, and incoming CFAS Chair-elect, Nita Ahuja, MD, starting their new terms on the Board of Directors, there will be a first-time AAMC Board member in a new seat reserved for a junior faculty member. The inaugural holder of that seat is Catherine L. Coe, MD, of the University of North Carolina. This update to the AAMC bylaws is designed to keep the academic mission at the core of AAMC work, and to bring a greater range of perspectives from AAMC organizations to the table.

CFAS played a critical role in the launch of this new seat by developing and implementing a nomination process and identifying candidates for the position. In all, more than 60 people from academic health centers across the country self-nominated. A small selection committee of CFAS Administrative Board members evaluated all nominees and created a slate of finalists who were sent to the Board of Directors for a final selection, which was completed in October and announced this week.

CFAS leadership wishes to thank all of the incredible nominees for bringing their names forward. The enthusiasm and quality of nominees exceeded expectations, and the council is committed to finding new ways to include many of the junior faculty members who wish to be engaged in AAMC and CFAS work.

Join Us at Learn Serve Lead 2021

If you have note already done so, please register for the AAMC’s signature annual meeting, Learn Serve Lead 2021: The Virtual Experience, happening in just two weeks.

As we discussed during the CFAS Business Meeting last week, the Nov. 8 – 10 program features a range of plenary and breakout sessions, including two sessions that arose from CFAS committee work:

Science Matters: Defending Public Health Facts in an Era of Empirically False News (including members of the CFAS Advocacy Committee, Nov. 8, 12:45 - 1:45 p.m. ET)

We Can’t Afford to Burn Out: Addressing Well-Being and Supporting the Role of Wellness Champions (including members of the CFAS Faculty Resilience Committee, Nov 10, 2 -3 p.m. ET)

Next week, the AAMC will release a publication tied to the second session, The Rise of Wellness Initiatives in Health Care: Using National Survey Data to Support Effective Well-Being Champions and Wellness Programs. Check your email and CFAS News for details on how to access it. Several CFAS reps are among the report authors.

In addition to the CFAS planned sessions, other Learn Serve Lead sessions will address racial injustice, health equity, the research environment, leadership, mental health, and medical education research.

New AAMC Center for Health Justice

The new AAMC Center for Health Justice seeks to look beyond medical care to impact health at the population level through research, policy, tools, and resources. The new center is staffed by a matrixed, multi-cluster team led by Founding Director Philip Alberti, PhD; Jennifer Bretsch, MS, Director of Programs; Phylicia N. McCalla, DrPH, Director of Operations; Heather Pierce, JD, MPH, Director of Policy; and Karey M. Sutton, PhD, Director of Research. The Center was launched in September as part of the AAMC’s strategic plan and the center’s efforts build on the work that the AAMC has already been doing for years, with the aid of AAMC’s Collaborative for Health Equity: Act, Research, Generate Evidence (CHARGE). CHARGE remains a key part of the center, functioning as a channel to local communities.
The center’s first initiative was the publication of its Principles of Trustworthiness, which are meant to guide an organization to build authentic partnerships with local communities. There has already been high demand in some communities for the adoption of these principles.

Going forward, the center will be studying policy proposals that to determine their impact, positively or negatively, on health inequities. The research that the center will conduct will study how inequities might be decreased through certain policies, and hopefully the center will be able to influence policymakers at the federal level to mitigate policies that contribute to health inequities. “For example, we’re looking at President Biden’s American Family Plan and how its paid family leave proposal might impact racial inequities in maternal health,” said Dr. Alberti.

One current project underway at the Center is the “Health Equity Inventory Enhancement Project,” which has its genesis in a successfully piloted tool developed back in 2016-17 as part of AHRQ-funded work that sought to encourage academic medical centers to address health equity and community health from a systems perspective. A problem is that community health- and health equity-relevant efforts often aren’t well-coordinated within institutions or between community collaborators and so a big goal of this project is to enhance the tool to improve its ability to foster community-wide transparency and facilitate the formation of new and better health equity partnerships. The tool will eventually produce custom reports for all relevant stakeholders. AAMC institutions’ community partners will have access to this repository of information that can help identify new partnerships, enhance coordination of effort, and support their advocacy efforts because it can spotlight in real-time what’s happening in local areas so that relevant data can be taken back to policymakers.

Another project is the creation of an expert partner group who will help co-develop the center’s work for 3 years. “These partners will represent the various sectors, collaborators and perspectives necessary to achieve health equity,’ said Dr. Alberti. Later this Fall, the Center will be launching a national call for nominations for this important group of health justice champions, both community-based and national in scope.

In reflecting on future work ahead for the Center, Dr. Alberti assessed academic medicine’s efforts to address health inequities and the progress made so far: “The sustained national dialogue about health equity and racial justice is a pretty amazing sign of progress, and experts from our member organizations are helping to shape that conversation. Through their practice, through their advocacy, through their research, and through the rapidly growing number of Departments of Population Health in our medical schools. There’s also the realization that addressing health disparities really is multi-disciplinary work.”

Dr. Alberti emphasized that, while academic medicine has unique and necessary assets to bring to the table, they are insufficient when what’s needed is collaborative action. “There will always be more work to be done because we can always be better partners. With each other, with patients and families, with our communities. We have leadership training - maybe we also need partnership training, both for individuals and our organizations. How can an academic health center be the best partner in the collaborations necessary to achieve health equity? What are those organizational competencies?”

You can keep up to speed on the center’s work by following @AAMCJustice on Twitter.

CFAS Advocacy Committee Profile

CFAS Administrative Board Member Arthur Derse, MD, JD, FACEP, professor and director of the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities, and professor of emergency medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, serves as chair of the committee and David Sklar, MD, senior advisor and professor in the Arizona State University College of Health Solutions and former editor-in-chief of Academic Medicine, serves as vice chair. The committee is recruiting active members this fall because some members have finished their terms as CFAS reps.

What is the charge of the CFAS Advocacy Committee?

The Advocacy Committee works with the AAMC Government Relation’s staff to provide opportunities for faculty members’ voices to be heard on selected legislative and regulatory policy issues of importance to faculty and to engage representative societies and faculty in support of AAMC’s positions on such issues. The committee has been consulted on AAMC advocacy concerns and organizes advocacy-related sessions at CFAS spring meetings, the AAMC’s Learn Serve Lead annual meetings, and CFAS-sponsored conference calls and webinars on related topics. A key goal of the committee is advocacy message alignment of academic societies with AAMC efforts.

“One misconception that the committee often has to clarify is that we don’t advocate for legislation or regulation on behalf of the AAMC, because they already have significant expertise and capabilities there. Instead, we work toward alignment between our academic societies and the AAMC’s advocacy efforts by educating societies and faculty members about those advocacy efforts and emerging developments,” said Dr. Derse.

What are some current projects or initiatives underway?

A significant part of the committee’s current activity stems from one of its central objectives to educate faculty about the AAMC’s advocacy efforts and to function as bidirectional communicators who inform academic societies and faculty members about the concerns of the AAMC and vice versa. “We coordinate with the AAMC to ensure alignment with academic societies through initiatives such as AAMC sign-on letters and raising awareness of the AAMC Action program,” said Dr. Derse. The committee also achieves this coordination by scheduling regular educational presentations for its members to hear legislative and policy updates from AAMC Senior Director of Government Relations Tannaz Rasouli and AAMC Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher.

The committee also holds intermittent presentations from a special guest. For these presentations, all CFAS reps are invited. The most recent of these special presentations focused on advocacy and the media, featuring Theresa Brown, PhD, RN, who is a regular opinion contributor to the New York Times.

The most recent educational activity that the committee has been engaged in is planning a concurrent panel session at Learn Serve Lead 2021: The Virtual Experience, titled “’Science Matters’”: Defending Public Health Facts in an Era of Empirically False News.” CFAS Advocacy Committee members David Sklar, MD, Vera Donnenberg, PhD, FCP, AAMC Chief Scientific Officer Ross McKinney, MD, and I are featured panelists in this upcoming session.

The committee has organized and presented multiple plenary and concurrent sessions at past CFAS spring meetings and the AAMC’s Learn Serve Lead annual meetings and is currently collaborating with the CFAS Basic Research and Biomedical Education Committee (BREC), chaired by Rich Eckert, PhD, and the CFAS Mission Alignment Committee, chaired by Stewart Babbott, MD, to present an upcoming CFAS Connects session on regulatory burden for both researchers and clinicians. In a previous CFAS Connects, the CFAS Advocacy Committee hosted a session on the political changes that would likely affect academic medicine in the new Biden administration, featuring Karen Fischer and Tannaz Rasouli.

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

Presenting multiple sessions at CFAS and AAMC meetings, hosting CFAS Connects sessions, getting CFAS reps involved in AAMC Action, and alerting many academic societies to the sign-on opportunities to add their voice to the strength of AAMC’s advocacy letters.

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

The AAMC already helps the committee significantly through managing the logistics of organizing our meeting sessions. CFAS society representatives can help by carrying AAMC’s advocacy messages to the academic societies they represent, and since member medical schools’ government affairs offices are already in communication with AAMC leadership, CFAS school representatives can best help by participating in AAMC Action.

What issues does the committee examine?

Seemingly everything! The Biden administration transition and its implications for academic medicine and practicing clinicians, the issues around mask mandates, vaccine and medication development and allocation in the pandemic, ECMO machine and ICU bed limitations and the lack of personnel to run them, misinformation and vaccine skepticism, research funding through the NIH, the 340B drug program, expansion of GME slots, regulations about surprise billing, issues of health care equity especially around the issues of getting vaccines to vulnerable populations, Medicare fee schedules, OPPS, telehealth resources, and the impact on Medicare from the numbers of people 65 and older who have died from COVID-19.

How does the committee communicate with faculty on these issues?

The committee communicates with faculty through educational presentations, the distribution of AAMC advocacy sign-on letters to society members, notification to medical school faculty of AAMC Action opportunities, and special guest presentations on topics relevant to academic medicine professionals working in advocacy.

How can CFAS reps join the committee and what can they expect?

CFAS reps can join the committee by contacting Anne Berry at aberry@aamc.org. While all CFAS reps are welcome to attend the meetings, the committee has a core group of members who are expected to volunteer and work on projects. Those members have the responsibility to communicate with their institutions or societies about AAMC advocacy efforts, to seek society sign-on letters to AAMC advocacy efforts, to propose sessions at CFAS and AAMC meetings, and to volunteer to organize and be speakers or moderators at those sessions. The privilege of serving on the committee is to have direct and regular communication with the AAMC advocacy team and other committee members.

CFAS Rep Profile: Mithu Sen, MD

Dr. Sen is a member of the CFAS Program Committee and serves as professor of medicine, assistant dean of faculty equity and wellness, and acting vice dean of faculty affairs at Western University, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.

CFAS: Tell us about your experience as a critical care physician during these later stages of the pandemic.

Dr. Sen: I think whether as a critical care/pulmonary physician or as a physician in any other area of academic medicine, these later stages of the pandemic have been challenging and at times spiritually exhausting given the almost 2-year timeline. In critical care, it has sometimes been difficult to differentiate the stages of this pandemic given the daily, weekly, monthly, and now yearly adaptation to the challenges – whether at the larger societal scale, on the community front, or in patient care and education. In some ways, the core business of critical care – taking care of our sickest patients and teaching the next generation – has been consistent. I think others may share the perspective that on a global scale, we have amassed great amounts of knowledge and knowledge translation in the form of public health measures and vaccine development and dissemination, but there continues to be inequities as well as misinformation leading to more individuals becoming critically ill with the spread of COVID-19.  

From my perspective, there is a great demand for authentic leadership in health care and health systems during this pandemic – especially in these later stages. Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between some of our institutional leaders and providers on the front lines and this has resulted in the loss of talented resilient health care colleagues from our system. But during this time that many of us have found great strength in our critical care teams, who rise up to any challenge. It’s inspiring to be on a team which looks for every opportunity to create positive change for our patients, families, colleagues, learners, and health systems.

My AAMC, CFAS, and ELAM (Executive Leader in Academic Medicine) communities have and continue to be instrumental in standing with me through these challenges.

CFAS: As a leader in wellness, what do you believe institutions should be doing to address faculty well-being?

Dr. Sen: I have been fortunate to learn, work, collaborate with and contribute to work on wellness for almost a decade. I’ve done this work with the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons Canada (RCPSC) National Task Force on Wellness, the Canadian Medical Association, the ACGME, Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, the AAMC, and through my ELAM Institutional Action Project (IAP). I’ve also done work related to well-being through the Board of Directors at Associated Medical Services (AMS), the Canadian Critical Care Society, and the Ontario Thoracic Society.

I believe that every institution has a responsibility to contribute meaningfully to their faculty members’ wellness. Doing one wellness initiative is not enough to support faculty members – an institution must be a key stakeholder of wellness. As we have discussed at the AAMC, one systems approach could be that if a university or school has oversight of faculty, their role could include assigning a mentor or mentorship committee to enable promotion over every faculty member’s career. I think it is very important to remember that faculty wellness is contextual and wellness offerings must comply with the principles of equity. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. For example, a faculty member’s wellness needs may look quite different if they are an assistant professor who is also a parent. Targeted wellness interventions could include childcare or financial literacy, or having yearly coaching set up by institutional leadership or peers about what success would look like and what are the resources needed to achieve success. I led a wellness framework as part of ELAM that addressed the domains of body, mind, and spirit and I received an award from the AAMC for this framework, which was adopted by several institutions.

At times, a wellness “solution” may come from the ground up and it’s important to acknowledge those initiatives and share best practices. One example from our institution comes from the first few weeks of the pandemic, when we in critical care were confronted with intense dehydration from wearing full PPE (Hazmat, goggles, N95+ surgical mask, scrub cap/plastic head cover, face shield & gloves) for more than 12 hours. As we were looking at the Body-Mind-Spirit Framework to see which interventions were feasible to promote wellness, we implemented a simple intervention to create hydration stations for everyone in the unit and this made a huge impact.
 
CFAS: What advice do you have for women who want to become leaders in academic medicine?

Dr. Sen: We all recognize that time is not an endless resource for any individual. We have to be honest with ourselves and outline where we want to make a contribution in order to help guide our goals. Then seek out mentors and sponsors along the journey who are truly invested in your career goals. Paying it forward will help other women.

AAMC leadership sessions were an important part of my journey as I had the opportunity to complete the AAMC Early Career Development Seminar for Women as an assistant professor and the AAMC’s Midcareer Development Seminar as an associate professor. As a professor and former vice dean, I learned an incredible amount at ELAM about Stewart Friedman’s framework of Four-Way Wins, which is a practical leadership framework that has stood the test of time.
 
CFAS: What are some recent accomplishments or initiatives at your institution that would be interesting for other CFAS reps to know about?

Dr. Sen: One example from the “Spirit” category of the Mind-Body-Spirit framework that I introduced at our institution was the recognition of the importance to some people of doing certain activities. Also, my institution created a faculty mentorship award as a longitudinal study of mentorship that showed that mid- or late-career faculty were most likely to be mentors.
 
CFAS: What do you like to do in your free time?

Dr. Sen: I enjoy spending time with my friends and family. I also like reading as well as painting and drawing. I enjoy gardening and have decided this year to plant every perennial plant or bulb I can get my hands on!

CFAS Spring Meeting

Please save the date for the 2022 CFAS Spring Meeting, which will be a virtual event held April 11 – 13. The newly refreshed CFAS Program Committee, headed by CFAS Chair-elect Nita Ahuja, MD, is working to develop not only a relevant meeting from a content perspective, but an engaging conference given the recognition that so many of us are experiencing “Zoom fatigue” and want to experience something more than just another online conference. The goal of the committee is to construct a program that brings front and center a range of issues critical to faculty in academic medicine today in a format that keeps CFAS reps engaged, informed, and inspired.

Much more information will be coming to you in the coming weeks, but if you have ideas for session topics or approaches to the meeting that you’d like to share, please reach out to Nita Ahuja at nita.ahuja@yale.edu.

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.

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