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In this edition:

Message from the Chair

Dear Colleagues,

As we progress into the fall semester, it becomes clear that the challenges of the present pandemic will be with us for longer than we had first envisioned. As you already know, the AAMC has cancelled all in-person meetings through June 2021, which means that both Learn Serve Lead 2020: The AAMC Annual Meeting and the CFAS 2021 spring meeting will be virtual. Over the summer, the CFAS Ad Board has considered alternative means for your engagement, so that CFAS can remain a productive AAMC council that truly serves the faculty we represent. Of the several options discussed, two have come to maturity: CFAS Connects and an increase in CFAS committee activities.  

CFAS Connects will be a monthly opportunity for all CFAS representatives to meet regularly, even if virtually, to learn about and discuss ongoing or newly arising challenges to faculty in academic medicine. Through the efforts of our Programming Committee, chaired by Adi Haramati, PhD, the inaugural CFAS Connects session took place on September 30 and focused on racial justice in academic medicine and clinical care delivery during the pandemic. The next session, scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 29, will focus on teaching and research.

CFAS Committees

The Ad Board is considering new opportunities to engage all CFAS reps with committee work. Given that over the next year nearly all AAMC and CFAS meetings, including committee meetings, will be virtual (and free!), there is an opportunity for more of us to collaborate on projects and activities of common interest. With two exceptions, that of the Nominating and Program Committees, all CFAS committees are open in that any CFAS representative can participate in meetings and can initiate and participate in committee-sponsored activities. Please review our current committees and let Eric Weissman or me know of your interest. We will be delighted to work more closely with you and get you connected with the committees that interest you.

For me, participation in the Basic Science Committee has been a source of inspiration and support. I was inspired by the experiences and ideas shared by my colleagues and by their innovative approaches to common challenges in research and graduate education. And I found support in a community of like-minded and caring colleagues and from expanding my network of professional and personal connections. A bonus I did not expect has been the opportunity to practice and grow my leadership skills, and to obtain credentials as a leader in the national arena. All current CFAS Ad Board members have started their CFAS engagement by active participation in open CFAS committees and many have taken leadership roles in these committees. If this is something that would add value to your CFAS role, we welcome your interest.

I look forward to connecting with you, even if virtually, during upcoming regular CFAS activities.  

Stay safe and stay well, my friends,

Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD
CFAS Chair 2019 - 2021

Interview with AAMC Chief Scientific Officer Ross McKinney, MD, on the AAMC's Pandemic Response

CFAS recently sat down with AAMC Chief Scientific Officer Ross McKinney Jr., MD, to talk about the role the AAMC has played in relaying reliable, scientifically valid information to its members and the public during the pandemic.

“The AAMC has been speaking consistently about what the public needs during and after this pandemic, what academic health centers can and should provide, and the role the government should be taking. We’ve been striving to meet the needs of the public through the capabilities our academic health center members offer,” said Dr. McKinney.

Because of the leadership vacuum in the country’s response to the pandemic, the AAMC has stepped up to the plate by becoming a reliable source of scientifically based information in a sea of misinformation, releasing multiple reports on how the government and the rest of our society can take decisive action to abate the pandemic. So far, the AAMC has released a road map out of the pandemic, consensus guidance on masks and face coverings, and a guide to Covid-19 tests and testing. And as the pandemic has spotlighted the disproportionate impact health crises have an America’s vulnerable communities of color, the AAMC has released a framework to address and eliminate racism, taken public stands against racism and police brutality, advocated for resolving health inequities and joined a growing chorus of national health groups advocating for an equitable allocation of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The AAMC also has been supporting academic labs by offering them guidance and making the case to policymakers for their prioritization in the nation’s testing efforts. “The AAMC has been going to bat for academic labs by explaining their unique capabilities to policymakers and explaining how the different kinds of tests work, the limitations of the different tests, and when it’s best to use a certain test. But despite our efforts, unfortunately there are parts of the federal government that remain disinterested in providing adequate support to academic labs," Dr. McKinney said. "They are disproportionately focused on getting PCR supplies to commercial labs and distributing antigen tests to nursing homes. One problem with that approach is that antigen tests aren’t demonstrated to be effective in asymptomatic people. But despite the occasional difficulty, we are still trying to find whatever ways we can to protect and invigorate academic labs’ supply chain.”

Dr. McKinney noted that, even among other national health groups and federal health agencies, the AAMC has served as a trusted source of information amid the disorientation and confusion of the pandemic.

“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback on our AAMC Novel Coronavirus Update newsletter. Also, the FDA was happy that we reinforced their position on toughening the standards for an emergency use authorization of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. And the AAMC was one of the first groups to come out against the CDC’s now-withdrawn testing guidance that claimed people exposed to COVID-19 but still asymptomatic did not need to be tested. After a few weeks, the CDC thankfully reversed that position, partly due to the pressure they were receiving under from groups like the AAMC and others in the public health community. We’ve also helped some institutions get some much-needed supplies and, over time, we are receiving fewer complaints about the supply chain for PPE,” said Dr. McKinney.

CFAS Connects Update

The inaugural CFAS Connects was hosted last month by CFAS Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair VJ Periyakoil, MD, and CFAS Mission Alignment and Impact of Faculty Educators Committee Chair Stewart Babbott, MD. The webinar focused on racial justice and clinical care delivery and was attended by about 70 faculty members who shared powerful stories about how they are navigating a difficult landscape for people in academic medicine. A recording of the webinar is now available on the CFAS website.

We look forward to seeing many of you again on Thursday, Oct. 29, for another lively conversation, this time on teaching and research. If you have any questions about participating in these events or don’t have them on your calendar, please contact Eric Weissman at eweissman@aamc.org.

CFAS Thematic Committee Update

CFAS committees have been especially active this year, even amid the pandemic’s disruptions to regular in-person meetings.

“The Communication Committee strives to be an open forum that supports engagement as we navigate the pandemic and the evolving future of academic medicine,” said Alan Dow, MD, chair of the committee and a member of the CFAS Ad Board. The Communication Committee met in September to discuss ways to keep CFAS reps connected and engaged and discussed best practices for hosting webinars such as CFAS Connects. The Communications Committee also began the tradition of hosting CFAS Tweet Chats and remains actively involved in planning and facilitating those chats.

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee is also heavily involved with planning tweet chats on topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion in academic medicine and co-hosted the September CFAS Connects webinar on racial justice and clinical care delivery. “The session was very well attended by our CFAS representatives who participated in a deep discussion on sensitive social justice issues and shared many poignant personal stories,” said committee chair VJ Periyakoil, MD, a member of the CFAS Ad Board. The committee has also been strategizing on ways to supplement and support the AAMC’s efforts to address and eliminate racism.

The Basic Science Committee, chaired by Rich Eckert, PhD, a CFAS Ad Board member, also met in September and is strategizing on ways to support scientists during the pandemic. Of particular note, the committee discussed how the pandemic has caused a funding and workflow crisis in many laboratories in academic health centers, that could have an impact on a range of research and the careers of scientists. Committee members discussed their concern for more junior faculty and researchers specifically, and what can be done to ensure they are properly supported.

“At each of our Advocacy Committee meetings, Tannaz Rasouli, MPH, AAMC's Senior Director of Public Policy and Strategic Outreach, has updated members on the AAMC’s current advocacy efforts at the federal level. Members also bring current federal advocacy concerns from our academic societies and faculty. In light of the pandemic, the Advocacy Committee also revisited its objective of developing educational proposals for our in-person AAMC meetings, focusing instead on the opportunities for communication and education through the new CFAS Connects webinar format,” said committee chair Arthur Derse, MD, JD, a CFAS Ad Board member. The Advocacy Committee met in mid-September to hear an update from Tannaz on the policy developments out of Washington that are pertinent to academic medicine and specifically focused on the recent intrusions of politics into science and the need for academic medicine to speak loudly and decisively against the trend. The committee also expressed its support for more sign-on opportunities, including on specific AAMC statements, such as one that offered support to Anthony Fauci, MD.

The Faculty Resilience Committee, chaired by CFAS Ad Board member Mona Abaza, MD, has been working to support faculty through this difficult time, most recently through a closed Facebook group for health care professionals and a webinar titled “Clinician Well-Being and Resilience: What the Data Show and How We Move Forward.” The committee also hosted the most recent CFAS Tweet Chat, which focused on well-being in academic medicine.

The Mission Alignment and Impact of Faculty Educators Committee, chaired by CFAS Ad Board member Stewart Babbott, MD, has been particularly active through its Gender Equity Subcommittee, led by Adam Franks, MD. The subcommittee is addressing recognition, promotion and tenure of educators and is currently finalizing a manuscript on the historical perspective of female representation in the national rank and tenure systems. Future work will use the scholarly approach to the work on female representation, applying this to gender equity on the individual institutional level and to under-represented minorities in the national rank and tenure systems.

CFAS Society Profile: The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)

The American Academy of Family Physicians is one of America’s largest medical organizations, consisting of 72,600 active family physicians, 13,700 family medicine residents, and 37,900 medical students. The AAFP’s vision is to “transform health care to achieve optimal health for everyone. Our mission is to improve the health of patients, families, and communities by serving your needs with professionalism and creativity.”

The AAFP focuses on four ways to advance family medicine, strengthen the collective voice of family physicians, and enhance patient care:

  • Support and sustain family medicine practices to ensure their comprehensive services are valued and adequately paid,
  • Reduce administrative complexity that detracts from patient care,
  • Equip family physicians with clinical expertise to provide high quality, evidence-based care and address health disparities, and
  • Grow a family physician workforce that fully represents America’s diversity

Understandably, the AAFP has been focusing its recent efforts and initiatives on addressing the pandemic and supporting its many members during an especially challenging time for family medicine. The AAFP has created a comprehensive resource center to provide members with up-to-date clinical guidance and other resources to keep patients and staff safe in the care setting. The resources also offer guidance on billing, coding, telemedicine, and other practice management issues related to the pandemic. The online resource center continues to serve as a valuable one-stop shop for AAFP members as they navigate COVID-19 and the impending flu season.

More recently, the AAFP has joined with other national groups calling for leaders of federal health agencies to stand strong for science over politics. The AAFP also joined Project N95, a non-profit collaboration to empower family physicians and other health care professionals to safely continue their work on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. AAFP members received discounted pricing for PPE products that are FDA-guaranteed for quality.

In line with its vision statement, the AAFP advocates for health care for all by advancing principles of primary care that improve health outcomes and lower costs, whether that’s through the Affordable Care Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid, or Medicare. The AAFP also wants to ensure that the expansion of telehealth continues after the pandemic.

“We want to protect health care access for our patients by preserving the ability of their doctors to provide continuity of care via telehealth and be paid for it,” said Karen Mitchell, MD, FAAFP, director of the Division of Medical Education at the AAFP, and who also serves as the organization’s CFAS representative.

Dr. Mitchell also commented on how CFAS and the AAFP can work together to advance family medicine and academic medicine more broadly.

“We want to grow a diverse workforce and would love to see CFAS examine the admissions processes in medical schools and encourage recruitment from typically underrepresented populations. CFAS could also focus on ways to support faculty and preceptors from diverse backgrounds. The AAFP has had a series of virtual town hall events where we’ve highlighted perspectives of physicians on the front lines regarding health equity and caring for patients of color. We also have a series of CME offerings in a variety of educational formats on a wide array of Covid-19 topics such as optimizing virtual care, vaccine science, maternity care, and physician well-being,” said Dr. Mitchell.

To foster greater diversity in family medicine, the AAFP encourages high school students and community college students to enter the medical school pipeline. It uses data sharing to study the vitality of the medical school experience, the primary care workforce pipeline, and students’ preparedness for residency. Related to these issues of preserving a robust medical school pipeline, especially during a pandemic that is adding severe financial challenges for many physicians, the AAFP is concerned that denigration of medical specialties affects how students make decisions on what specialties might best suit their personal goals and ambitions. The AAFP would like to work with CFAS to help change the culture of the medical school experience to include positive messaging about students’ specialty choices. Students who show an interest in primary care specialties should be encouraged to pursue them.

Because issues affecting students and residents are such a big focus for the AAFP, the Academy publishes its annual Strolling Through The Match report, which provides students with information about The Match. The 2020 edition features supplemental information on what students need to know during the pandemic, including how to secure virtual rotations and information for decision-making and putting your best self forward in this new virtual world. The AAFP also signed onto a letter advocating for all interviews to be virtual during the pandemic and shifted its annual National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students to a virtual format to enable students to uphold their plans to connect with residency programs.

“The AAFP deeply appreciates our members and staff who work every day to help ensure a well-trained and diverse primary care workforce for the patients, families, and communities we serve,” said Shawn Martin, executive vice present and chief executive officer of the AAFP. “It is by working with organizations such as CFAS that we, together, will be able to meet the long-term health care needs of our nation.”

Register Now for Learn Serve Lead 2020: The Virtual Experience

Registration is still open for Learn Serve Lead 2020: The Virtual Experience, happening Nov. 16 – 18, but early bird registration ends Oct. 31.

Plenary speakers include:

  • Ibram X. Kendi, PhD, Bestselling Author, How to Be An Antiracist, Director, Center for Antiracist Research, Boston University
  • Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, The New York Times; Creator, 1619 Project
  • Francis Collins, MD, PhD, Director, NIH
  • Anne Schuchat, MD, Principal Deputy Director, CDC
  • Anthony Fauci, MD, Director, NIAID
  • Vivek Murthy, MD, former Surgeon General of the United States

To view the full program, please click here to access the meeting website.

Tell Us How You’re Doing in Response to the Pandemic

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.

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