Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Advocacy in Academic Medicine



Today’s blog covers advocacy from a variety of angles, and reflects my thoughts over what I learned from the #AAMC13 meeting over the last 24 hours.

Advocacy within Social Media

The University of Utah is taking a huge presence at this meeting with its Innovations theme.  At a booth set up in the exhibit hall, they were interviewing folks coming through to provide brief reflections.  I was able to spend a few moments reflecting on what the impact that social media can have on medicine and medical education.  What a timely opportunity to focus on what so many great folks have done parlaying the importance of vaccines for communities, as well as providing truthful, succinct messages to society.  See the audio interview here.

Advocacy within Education

Daphne Koller, who started Coursera, spoke to the participants on the power of what MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) can do, not just for the schools or professors who host them, but for society as well.  I was moved by the stories from student learners from sub-saharan Africa and others who became more educated from their use of Coursera.  The potential ramifications of the betterment of the entire planet: wow!

Advocacy within Continuing Education

I attended a workshop on CME in which Don Moore described a tool that integrates the IHI Model for Improvement with PI CME (Performance Improvement CME) to help clinicians better understand the pieces needed to make improvement science and lifelong learning relevant to their day-to-day practice.  Some in the community have questioned how Maintenance of Certification actually “helps” them provide better care for their patients.  This session helped clarify the potential benefits of the Maintenance of Certification program.  We also heard from Mary Turco and George Blike about a concept at Dartmouth called “Value Grand Rounds”, which itself showcases improvements in the health system, but also itself has the opportunity for members of a team to see the fruits of their labor, and also drives them to want to get better.

Advocacy for Research

At the Town Hall meeting, Dr. Darrell Kirch answered questions from the audience about a variety of topics.  One comment hit home: the public is “scientifically illiterate”.  A new initiative by the AAMC entitled “Research Means Hope” focuses on how the public can better understand why research funding is so desparately needed, because the end product of research should be improved patient livelihood. 

Advocacy for Graduate Medical Education

Also at the Town Hall meeting, a question was raised about the “rate limiting step” in producing new physicians in the United States—namely, the shortage of residency positions for graduates of medical schools, who themselves have increased enrollment by 25-30% over the past few years.  Atul Grover discussed bills in Congress that aim to address the “GME crisis”: HR 1180, HR 1201, and Senate 577.  We hope that these campaigns can be successful in providing the resources for the physicians of the future, hoping to achieve the ultimate goal of improved patient outcomes in our communities.

Advocacy for Me

I was honored to have met Dr. Lewis First as well, the editor of the journal Pediatrics, and a giant in the world of pediatrics.  His own career embodies the best of academic medicine, and the best of how physicians can make a difference.

A hearty thanks go out to the AAMC on a fantastic meeting, with so many opportunities for reflection, for networking, and for the opportunity to improve the education of future physicians and leaders in health care.

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