The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine demonstrated a strong presence at Learn Serve Lead 2022, the premier learning and networking event of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The conference was held November 11-15 in Nashville, Tennessee, and Miller School leaders, faculty, and students joined more than 4,000 participants from around the country to present their work in medical education, patient care, and community outreach.
Leading in Times of Crisis, Opportunity, and Transformation
Henri Ford, M.D., M.H.A., dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School, who serves as chair of the AAMC Council of Deans and a member of the AAMC board of directors, joined a panel to discuss leadership imperatives in today’s complex health care, societal, and academic medicine environments.
“The biggest question leaders have to tackle is how we inspire and empower our people in the face of constant demand,” Dean Ford said. “We continue to communicate the challenges we face, and we engage our teams to come up with solutions and understand their perspectives. Especially during times of crisis, it is crucial that they are heard.”
Dean Ford spoke about institutional challenges, as well as recent transformational initiatives, partnerships, and innovations, emphasizing that communication is essential to success.
“Leadership should always be about service to others,” he said. “You need to ensure that everyone in your organization knows that their health and well-being are our paramount concerns.”
Dean Ford also had the honor of introducing the winner of the Herbert W. Nickens Presidential Award, Thomas A. LaVeist, Ph.D., dean of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. The award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to promoting justice in medical education and health equity. Dr. LaViest presented the Herbert Nickens Lecture, “My Journey to Discover Why African Americans Live Sicker and Die Younger.”
“I stand on the shoulders of Dr. Nickens’ work,” said Dr. LaVeist, who has worked for more than 30 years to dismantle racism in the U.S. “He was a scholar, scientist, administrator, activist, and a humanitarian. That’s what it takes to work within the structures we serve today.”
Advocating for GME Expansion
Joan St. Onge, M.D., M.P.H., senior associate dean for graduate medical education and faculty affairs and chair of the AAMC Group on Resident Affairs, also shared insight about overcoming hurdles—specifically, physician shortages and patient access to care, problems that are predicted to worsen as demands increase with the country’s aging population.
Dr. St. Onge described the six organizational capacities for change and how this resulted in a new state-based reimbursement model that has led to the creation of 3,000 new residency and fellowship positions in Florida since 2016.
“Through a lot of hard work, education, and collaboration, we’ve been able to achieve continued funding to increase the GME positions, resulting in a significant increase in the workforce,” she said. “But we still have issues: There is still is a significant physician shortage, especially in the primary care workforce and in the distribution of physicians in the state, that we are working hard to remedy.”
Important conversations about the undergraduate medical education to GME transition continued with Hilit Mechaber, M.D., senior associate dean for student affairs and national chair of the Group on Student Affairs, who participated in a standing-room-only panel session about the increasing number of residency applications. Program directors are struggling to review all applicants holistically and students are spending large sums on applications, leading to equity concerns. Dr. Mechaber and the panel reviewed current data and stakeholder perspectives about application caps, which may potentially reduce applications without resulting in a decline in entry into certain specialties.
“There needs to be a paradigm shift in transition to residency,” said Dr. Mechaber. “The decision about application caps is a values decision that should be based on community, equity, legal, and ethical considerations.”
The Future of Medical Education
Of course, undergraduate medical education was also front and center at Learn Serve Lead. Latha Chandran, M.D., M.P.H., executive dean for education and policy, founding chair of the Department of Medical Education, and Bernard J. Fogel Chair in Medical Education, led the roundtable discussion “Financing Medical Education,” while Paul Méndez, M.D., associate professor of medicine and clinical skills program director, spoke about collaboration among clinical skills course directors.
Armen Henderson, M.D., M.B.A., assistant professor of medicine, and Dan Bergholz, Miller School Class of ’23, spoke about the importance of academic medical centers finding meaningful ways to step outside of the hospital and classroom doors to serve their communities. They both shared their personal experience helping underserved populations throughout Miami-Dade and stressed the importance of institutional commitment in helping those who lack access to quality health care.
At the Miller School, community service is embedded in the curriculum and is an important part of students’ education.
“Besides building clinical skills, this work puts a stamp on the brains of these doctors in training,” said Dr. Henderson. “I encourage our students to share what they see with our local representatives, their families, everyone who will listen, so our society doesn’t continue to perpetuate stereotypes about these communities.”
Bergholz said, “This [outreach] has been the core pillar of my education—we’re going beyond the hospital and building relationships with patients. You can only achieve this with sincere and honest service.”
On Saturday, November 12, Miller School faculty, friends, alumni, and students gathered for a “Miami Spice” reception to spark collaboration and connection with renowned academicians from around the world. The more than 200 people in attendance enjoyed music, dancing, and food inspired by Miami’s diverse culture, and celebrated recent Miller-led accomplishments and partnerships driven by a culture focused on transforming the health of humanity.