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In this edition:

Message from the Chair
AAMC and CFAS Efforts to Combat Racism and Its Effects on Health
AAMC Issues Statement Defending Anthony Fauci, MD
How AAMC and CFAS Meetings Are Changing
CFAS Mission Alignment Committee Report
CFAS Society Profile: The Association of Pathology Chairs
Former CFAS Ad Board Member Lee Fleischer, MD, Named Chief Medical Officer of CMS
Accessing Your Academic Medicine Subscription
Update on CFAS Tweet Chats


Message from the Chair

Dear Colleagues,

There is so much happening with COVID-19, police violence, racism, and, as of the writing of this message, the threat of deportation for many of our Visa-holding students. Many of us are wearily asking, “What’s next?”

We are all experiencing bewildering changes in how we do our jobs and in how we prepare to educate learners, treat patients, and pursue research in the upcoming semester and beyond. Many of us are forced to support and field questions from learners while having plenty of our own. We are called to introspection and reevaluation of our own behaviors and we are also called to resiliency, compassion, and even activism.

Thirty societies have now endorsed the AAMC’s June 1 statement on racism and police brutality, and about 40 societies have issued their own statements, which represents roughly half of our member societies. The list of participating organizations, which will continue to be updated, is available on the AAMC’s website.

The CFAS Ad Board has continued to meet remotely. Among our priorities, diversity, equity, and inclusion remain major areas of focus. Connect with CFAS Diversity and Inclusion Committee chair, VJ Periyakoil, MD, to get involved. Also, the Program Committee is actively considering remote options for engagement and programming. Connect with the CFAS Program Committee chair and CFAS chair-elect, Adi Haramati , PhD, to get involved on that front. We also continue to be updated by AAMC leadership on their preparations for the implementation phase of the AAMC Strategic Plan and are standing ready to contribute in a way that supports our faculty and academic societies.

We remain alert to your needs and suggestions as you and your colleagues continue to face stressful challenges and emotions. Let us know how you are coping, whether and how we can help, and of course, we would be excited to hear about your successes. For mutual support and wellbeing resources, consider joining the closed Facebook group HealthCareWorkerWellbeing, which is monitored by the chair of the CFAS Faculty Resilience Committee, Mona Abaza, MD. And also look to the many resources – including those from some of your own institutions – on the AAMC’s Well-Being in Academic Medicine web resource.

Many thanks for your efforts on behalf of our learners, colleagues, and generally for the health and wellbeing of our institutions and society.

Stay well,

Gabriela K Popescu, PhD
CFAS Chair, 2019 - 2021

AAMC Efforts to Combat Racism and its Effects on Health

After the shocking and brutal deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, backlash against racism and police brutality roiled the country, resulting in weeks of protest, unrest, and urgent dialogue aimed at securing lasting and meaningful change.

On June 1, the AAMC issued a statement on racism and police brutality and their effects on public health. “Our country must unite to combat and dismantle racism and discrimination in all its forms and denounce race-related violence, including police brutality. Enough is enough. As healers and educators of the next generation of physicians and scientists, the people of America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals bear the responsibility to ameliorate factors that negatively affect the health of our patients and communities: poverty, education, access to transportation, healthy food, and health care. Racism is antithetical to the oaths and moral responsibilities we accepted as health professionals who have dedicated our lives to advancing the health of all, especially those who live in vulnerable communities,” wrote AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, and AAMC Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer David Acosta, MD.

Since the AAMC issued the statement, a large number of organizations have signed onto the statement, including 30 CFAS member societies. Many CFAS members also published their own statements, which we requested and have published on the CFAS website. The AAMC has also developed a draft roadmap to address and eliminate racism in the AAMC, academic medicine, and beyond and is building strategies to mitigate racism into its strategic planning process.

CFAS is actively exploring how to mitigate racism within its own ranks and give faculty members the tools and knowledge to be able to do the same at their institutions. We are open to your suggestions on how CFAS should proceed in this important work. Please email Eric Weissman at eweissman@aamc.org with your ideas.

AAMC Issues Statement Defending Anthony Fauci, MD

After reports that White House officials were attempting to discredit National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Anthony Fauci, MD, the AAMC issued a statement in support of Dr. Fauci.

“The AAMC is extremely concerned and alarmed by efforts to discredit Anthony Fauci, MD, our nation’s top infectious disease expert. Dr. Fauci has been an independent and outspoken voice for truth as the nation has struggled to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

As we are seeing from the surge in COVID-19 cases in areas that have reopened, science and facts—not wishful thinking or politics—must guide America’s response to this pandemic. This does not mean that scientific knowledge and recommendations will not change as our understanding of the virus grows. To the contrary, a successful response depends on Dr. Fauci, his colleagues, and scientists throughout America’s system of medical research who are able to draw conclusions based on current observations and continuously adjust those conclusions based on continuing observations. Science is, and must be, a dynamic and evolving process.

Taking quotes from Dr. Fauci out of context to discredit his scientific knowledge and judgment will do tremendous harm to our nation’s efforts to get the virus under control, restore our economy, and return us to a more normal way of life," said AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, and AAMC Chief Scientific Officer Ross McKinney, Jr., MD.

How AAMC and CFAS Meetings Are Changing

Due to the continued prevalence and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AAMC has made the difficult decision to cancel all planned in-person meetings through June 30, 2021. This includes professional and leadership development programs, learning and training sessions, Learn Serve Lead 2020: The AAMC Annual Meeting, and various steering committee, advisory committee, and AAMC Board of Directors meetings scheduled for the coming year. This also means that AAMC staff will be unable to travel individually to AAMC member institutions through December 31, 2020 at the earliest – and even then, only in a limited capacity for essential work.

Despite these challenges, the CFAS Program Committee is committed to re-inventing the invaluable interpersonal exchanges and learning experiences that are staples of our meetings and delivering them to CFAS reps in virtual formats. Under the leadership of Program Committee Chair and CFAS Chair-elect Adi Haramati, PhD, the committee is figuring out how the council can create an ongoing virtual program for our school and society reps along with other members of the CFAS community, built on both the topics and issues relevant to the council and also on the tradition of networking and knowledge sharing that’s familiar to all CFAS reps. We will be announcing the plan later this summer.

The Program Committee will meet on an ongoing basis to develop reformatting of our all-important learning and networking activities. More details will follow soon.

Also, the AAMC’s signature Learn Serve Lead Annual Meeting will transition into a virtual event in November, with a variety of plenary and breakout sessions presented online. Much more information about that, including registration details, will be announced to the AAMC community in the coming weeks.

Information about other AAMC professional development offerings and their status is available online.

CFAS Mission Alignment and Impact of Faculty as Educators Committee Report

The CFAS Mission Alignment and Impact of Faculty as Educators Committee, chaired by CFAS Administrative Board member Stewart Babbott, MD, traditionally begins every meeting with the question, “Professionally, what keeps you up at night?” The value of the promotion and tenure (P&T) system, especially for under-represented populations, has been a recurrent topic of discussion. In order to better investigate this topic, a small subcommittee, led by Adam Franks, MD, the junior school rep from the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, was formed last November during Learn Serve Lead 2019: The AAMC Annual Meeting in Phoenix and has been meeting virtually on a monthly basis ever since. The subcommittee has been exceptionally engaged and goal-oriented in its work.

Since underrepresented populations are broad and encompass ethnic and gender issues, the subcommittee decided to focus on only one of those groups initially, choosing first to analyze gender through the lens of the P&T system, as gender equity was designated by the AAMC as a focus area last year.

The subcommittee’s goal is to look at differences in how women and men navigate the P&T system both on a national as well as an institutional level. The group has extensively used the AAMC Faculty Roster to conduct their research and has found it to be an excellent resource to help answer questions around P&T. (For instructions on how to access the Faculty Roster, click here for information from the January 2020 edition of the CFAS Rep Bulletin.) For example, “We can observe a snapshot picture of female to male ratios for different academic ranks at different points in time and we can track those differences. By doing that, we are able to both observe trends of and determine influencing factors for changes to those national ratios. Furthermore, we plan to determine if there are specific demographic factors that promote gender equity on an institutional level,” said Dr. Franks.

The subcommittee had planned to present some of its findings at the combined spring meeting in San Diego, but our accepted IGNITE session was cancelled along with the conference due to the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, the subcommittee is nearing completion of a paper detailing the realities of gender equity within the P&T system. “Next, we hope to set our eyes on the ‘Why’ and ‘How to fix’ questions. We also plan on applying this same process to Ethnic Equity within the P&T system,” said Dr. Franks.

CFAS Society Profile: The Association of Pathology Chairs (APC)

The Association of Pathology Chairs (APC) is working to support academic labs in their efforts to ramp up COVID-19 testing across U.S. clinical labs supervised by pathologists, so APC’s members are truly at the forefront of the country’s diagnostic response to the pandemic. Since January, through APC’s member listservs, academic pathology’s leaders have shared up-to-the-minute information and tips to develop COVID-19 testing within academic health systems, address hospital administrators’ questions concerning test sensitivity and specificity, consult on local testing strategies, support public health labs, and manage educational transitions for medical students and pathology residents and fellows.  

In addition to pathology department chairs, APC also has professional sections for residency program directors and associate residency program directors (PRODS), directors of undergraduate medical education (UMEDS), department administrators or business managers (PDAS), and residency and fellowship program coordinators (GMEAS). APC also has a Senior Fellows Group, which consists of former department chairs, who stay involved with APC to offer valuable mentorship from their experiences, especially to new chairs. Some senior fellows are deans, chief medical officers, and CEOs of major organizations (including Jim Madara, MD, CEO of the American Medical Association), who provide broad leadership perspectives.

APC supports the professional development of members by facilitating section listservs; hosting an annual meeting; publishing its own journal titled Academic Pathology; and engaging in advocacy on behalf of academic pathology to larger groups and agencies such as the AAMC, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, among others. Currently, most of that advocacy is laser-focused around the fraught issue of COVID-19 testing.

“COVID-19 testing is obviously at the forefront for us, so our members have been extremely busy responding to the pandemic under government guidelines for testing and supply command for testing supplies. In these very adverse conditions, academic labs have served their patient communities extremely well with typically 24-hour turnaround on testing results, as compared to national commercial labs’ turnaround times of 7 to 10 days,” said APC Executive Director Priscilla Markwood.

Markwood emphasized the importance of that faster turnaround time, because of the need to treat potential COVID-19 patients, to notify their contacts quickly, and to keep emergency departments available for incoming patients. She described how the federal government is still directing the majority of supplies to commercial labs, while academic labs struggle to maintain their testing supplies. “The AAMC has been very helpful in articulating the issues that academic labs face and has helped them advocate at the higher levels of the government. We’re trying to talk at every level with hospital leadership, federal leadership, and state leadership to express what’s being lost by this de-prioritization of academic labs, because the current approach wastes valuable resources and is detrimental to the delivery of care,” said Markwood.

In the meantime, APC is working with the pathology community to find the best methodology for testing and also helping its members navigate a dry spell in anatomic pathology, since the focus right now is on clinical pathology. Cancerous biopsies and other health issues diagnosed by anatomic pathologists have dropped off due to the slow return of elective surgeries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted how important it is for a society to have a healthy pathology workforce, but pathology is less visible in the integrated curriculum of today’s medical schools, so APC is strategizing with the pathology community on how to give students experiences in pathology so they can better understand its value. While Markwood noted how CFAS and APC could work together to increase students’ exposure to pathology, Richard Conran, PhD, MD, JD, professor and chair of pathology and anatomy at Eastern Virginia Medical School and the CFAS senior rep for APC, further emphasized the need to increase the visibility of pathology in medical education.

“Pathologists have little or no time with medical students during their clinical clerkships,” he said. “When making residency application decisions, some students get their information about pathology from internet resources, which may not have accurate career information. To ensure accurate information is provided to students, CFAS could generate an interactive table about various medical specialties’ and their programs’ selection criteria, training opportunities, and career lifestyles on its website. Students need accurate information, prior to applying for residency, to make an informed decision.”

Even if students select something other than a career in pathology, exposure to the discipline has benefits for a future physician or researcher. “Beyond the traditional ways of thinking about pathology, it’s also the home to very successful physician-scientist training programs, translational medicine and research collaborations, laboratory information and biorepositories to aid in population health research and management, molecular diagnostics that supports personalized medicine, and (as we see vividly with COVID) in running in-house labs to care for academic medical centers’ patient communities,” said Markwood.

APC also offers students and residents the opportunity to achieve scholarly publication in an indexed, peer-reviewed journal without conducting research (for example, see Educational Cases in Academic Pathology). Medical school faculty can utilize these cases as part of their UME curriculum. Online resources like these cases are invaluable with the move to online instruction during the pandemic.

Former CFAS Ad Board Member Lee Fleischer, MD, Named Chief Medical Officer of CMS

Lee Fleischer, MD, a former CFAS Administrative Board member and a practicing anesthesiologist, professor of medicine, and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, has been named chief medical officer of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Dr. Fleischer will also be director of the agency’s Center for Clinical Standards and Quality. Congratulations, Lee!

Accessing Your Academic Medicine Subscription

All CFAS reps enjoy a significant new member benefit: full access to Academic Medicine, an official, peer-reviewed journal of the AAMC. Academic Medicine is the top-ranked journal in its field, with more than 17,000 citations last year. 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 at academicmedicine.org.

  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.

Update on CFAS Tweet Chats

Earlier this summer, CFAS had planned a tweet chat around issues of racism. After some discussion, including several messages shared on the CFAS listserv, the CFAS Diversity and Inclusion Committee, chaired by VJ Periyakoil, MD, decided to delay the tweet chat and consider other approaches to the topic. Dr. Periyakoil, in consultation with members of the CFAS Diversity and Inclusion Committee, proposed the following actions in lieu of a tweet chat: Encourage CFAS member societies to sign onto the AAMC’s statement on racism and police brutality, develop an open forum for the CFAS community to discuss these issues in a safe space, and seek input from the CFAS community for the Program Committee to consider as it discusses how CFAS will convene in a period where there will not be in-person meetings. The new web resource on society response to the AAMC statement shows the success of the first part of the approach, and the CFAS Administrative Board and Program Committee are considering program directions open to all CFAS reps to complete the other goals.

CFAS will move forward with a tweet chat on well-being in academic medicine later in the summer. The details of that chat will be announced in the coming days. For questions about these chats, please reach out to CFAS Communications Specialist Alex Bolt at abolt@aamc.org.

Tell Us How You’re Doing in Response to Coronavirus

During this unprecedented 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.

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.

Previous editions:
May 2020  |  April 2020  |  March 2020 

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