The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)’s Annual Meeting returned to in-person after two years away, and the Gold Foundation and its message of humanism were there in full force.
Thousands of members of the academic medicine community gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, the first time the conference has been held in person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Gold Foundation hosted four inspiring sessions, including a lecture for medical students during a luncheon in celebration of 2022 Arnold P. Gold Humanism in Healthcare Award recipient, Dr. Maura George.
The popular conference, known as Learn Serve Lead, ran from Friday, November 11, to Tuesday, November 15, 2022, with motivating plenary sessions, powerful talks, practical workshops, and many opportunities for networking. The attendees included educators, administrators, students, and members of the Gold Foundation staff and Board, all with passion for improving both health and healthcare. Sessions featured hot topics in medical education and the world at large, including social justice, diversity and inclusion, and health equity.
The Gold Foundation counts the AAMC as one its strongest partners, and each year hosts several sessions at the annual meeting.
One of the Gold flagship events was the presentation of the Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare and corresponding lecture, which was held on Saturday, November 12. This prestigious award was created jointly by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation and The Vilcek Foundation to recognize a foreign-born individual who has had an extraordinary impact on humanism in healthcare in the United States. The 2022 recipient is Dr. Mona Fouad, Founding Director of the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) Minority Health and Health Disparity Research Center; Senior Associate Dean for diversity and inclusion in the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine; and Professor and Director of the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine.
At a session that was part of the distinguished Voices of Medicine and Society Series, Dr. Fouad spoke about her journey from Egypt, where she trained as a musician before finding a calling in medicine, to Alabama, where she began her work in health disparities research. “Our health disparities work has always been about the lives of real people,” said Dr. Fouad.
The 2022 award presentation also marks the launch of the call for nominations for the next cycle of the Vilcek-Gold Award. The nomination period for the 2023 award is open through January 31, 2023.
Read more about Dr. Fouad’s captivating talk in this story by AAMC.
The next day, Sunday, November 13, brought two more Gold highlights.
The 2022 Jordan J. Cohen Humanism in Medicine Lecture was given by Dr. Lawrence Smith, Executive Vice President at Northwell Health, Dean Emeritus at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, and Gold Trustee. In his lecture, titled “Systemic Barriers to Humanism and Professionalism,” Dr. Smith focused on how to keep the joy in medicine, framed by both personal anecdotes and practical tips.
“How do we have a reserve of empathy?” asked Dr. Smith. “I really believe the only way you recharge empathy is the joy you get from the direct care of patients.”
Dr. Ellen Pearlman, Associate Dean for Professionalism and Doctoring Skills at Zucker School of Medicine, and Dr. Richard I. Levin, President and CEO of the Gold Foundation joined Dr. Smith in a conversation following the lecture. Dr. Pearlman issued her own rallying cry for the next generation. “Medical students still believe medicine is a calling,” she said. “Let them take the wheel. Let’s bring joy and humanism back to medicine.”
Dr. Smith also participated in a Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) workshop featuring a discussion among founding deans who have made a commitment to embedding humanism within their curricula. This panel included Dr. Pedro “Joe” Greer, Jr., Founding Dean of the College of Medicine at Roseman University and Gold Trustee, and Dr. Annette C. Reboli, Dean of Cooper Medical School at Rowan University and Founding Vice Dean. Dr. Kathleen Kashima, Senior Associate Dean of Students at University of Illinois, and former Chair of the GHHS Advisory Council, served as the “Ignitor,” sparking a lively conversation. The panel was introduced by Dr. Gregory Cherr, Professor of Surgery, Senior Associate Dean for GME, and DIO at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomed Sciences at the University of Buffalo, Gold Trustee, and Chair of the GHHS Advisory Council.
In addition to these public sessions, the Organization of Student Representatives (OSR), the student branch of the AAMC, and the Gold Foundation sponsored a luncheon and lecture on Friday, November 11, to honor the winner of the Arnold P. Gold Humanism in Medicine Award, which recognizes caring and compassionate mentors in medical school education. This year’s recipient was Dr. Maura George, Associate Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and an internist at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. George was selected for her compassionate care and remarkable advocacy for patients, and for being a role model to medical students through her advisory work. Learn more about Dr. George.
During her inspiring talk, Dr. George relayed stories from her own training and career, all of which underscored the importance of reaching patients where they are, and of understanding them as a whole person. “You need to resonate,” said Dr. George. “It’s the difference between sympathy and empathy. Between being nice and being kind.”
Two other Gold-connected leaders were honored by the AAMC this year. Gold Trustee Dr. Kimberly Manning, Professor of Medicine and Associate Vice Chair, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, at Emory University School of Medicine and internist at Grady Memorial Hospital, was the recipient of the AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion (GDI) Exemplary Leadership Award. And former GHHS Advisory Chair and Gold Trustee Dr. Charles Pohl, Senior Vice Provost of Student Affairs at Thomas Jefferson University and Vice Dean of Student Affairs at Sidney Kimmel Medical College, was the recipient of the Group on Student Affairs Exemplary Service Award.
The plenary sessions at AAMC’s Learn Serve Lead meetings are another highlight. In a leadership plenary on November 13, AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, and AAMC Board Chair Kirk A. Calhoun, MD, discussed the challenges facing academic medicine today.
Dr. Calhoun spoke movingly of his own childhood and what it meant, as a young Black child, to be treated by a Black physician: “You cannot be what you cannot see.” He urged the audience to not lose sight of the need for more diversity in medicine.
Dr. Skorton discussed four main concerns that “keep me up at night,” including improving diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism; addressing student well-being; countering rising threats to the doctor-patient relationship; and the importance of free speech and open dialogue. Amid these challenges, “I remain hopeful that somehow together we can transform the status quo,” said Dr. Skorton.
In another plenary session, Dr. Skorton moderated a powerful conversation between Cornel West, PhD, and Robert George, JD, DPhil, who met as professors at Princeton University and bonded despite their different backgrounds and beliefs. They compelled the audience to recognize the power of civil discourse, centered on deep, honest, respectful conversation, in which both parties are open to change.
The conference offered many other powerful sessions, including two from authors who were highlighted on the Gold Foundation 2022 Reading List for Compassionate Clinicians.
Journalist and author Linda Villarosa spoke about how racism drives health disparities, drawing on her own personal experiences and those of people she has interviewed, as well as on historical records that show how racist beliefs have carried down through centuries.
Dr. Wes Ely, an ICU expert and critical care physician, spoke about his revolutionary work in changing ICU practices to improve patient outcomes, and how important it is to see the patient as a whole person. “Let’s commit ourselves to re-humanization,” said Dr. Ely, whose talk was recapped in an AAMC story. “Let’s pay attention to things like putting touch before technology.”
In 2023, the AAMC Annual Meeting will be in Seattle from November 3 to 7.