Week 36: Learn, Lead Serve

This week I attended the virtual Association of Academic Medical Center’s 2020 (#aamc2020) Annual meeting. I want to highlight the four themes that permeated the sessions I attended. These are 1) community collaboration; 2) Anti-Racism; 3) Covid-19 Lessons Learned; and 4) Medical Education.

As part of this meeting, the AAMC announced its new strategic plan. Traditionally, strategies surrounding education, research, and patient care have been emphasized. With this new strategic plan, there is a greater emphasis on increasing diversity in the health professions and eliminating health disparities as well as fostering collaboration amongst communities and developing community partnerships. The sessions I attended that supported this aspect of the strategic plan included discussions around changing the medical school curriculum to include a greater emphasis on the health and wellness needs of communities of color and the challenges these patients face in receiving health care; breaking down the myths medical students have regarding how different communities of color respond to pain or certain treatment options, and strategies for increasing the diversity within the medical student body and the medical education faculty and provider network. Educating the workforce and students around anti-racist and in particular anti-black racist systems and strategies for change were also discussed. In terms of community collaboration, the need to engage communities as equal partners in improving the health of communities, addressing issues of health equity and health justice, and combatting racism were emphasized.

The overwhelming research response to COVID-19, lessons learned, the challenges faced by health care providers treating patients and dealing with misinformation around the virus were also discussed in many sessions. On Monday, the first official day of the meeting, the news of the Moderna vaccine and it’s 95% effectiveness was announced. That morning Francis Collins spoke and was extremely hopeful about what this announcement meant to the world. He also praised the global research community for collaboratively working together on the discovery and development of various treatments and vaccines. Others talked about the challenges of quickly shutting down research operations, that were not COVID-19, related in many of our medical centers, and the long-term effect on science and scientific careers. Others discussed the lessons learned in ramping the research enterprise back up in June and speculated that perhaps some of the safety changes made in response to COVID-19 may continue in the post-pandemic future.

The AAMC is the organization that accredits medical schools and for that reason is an important venue for us. The themes of this year’s meeting were particularly pertinent to Countway’s mission, goals, and action plans for the coming year. Through our renovation and new open indoor and outdoor spaces, we are working towards opening the library to our community and beyond for collaboration opportunities, we are developing our own strategies for combatting racism and increasing diversity, we continue to support medical education in new ways that support online learning, and we have our own list of lessons learned from closing and opening the library back up as a result of COVID-19.  For more information regarding the AAMC’s strategic plan, take a look at their website: aamc.org.  You can also peruse some of the specific speaker content on Twitter at #aamc2020.