How do SGIM’s external relations help to rally attention to our mission amidst the adversity of the last year?
In 2020, SGIM’s Council adopted a strategic framework for guiding our approach to external relations.1 The framework identifies our four main organizational goals and calls for each relationship to support one or more of those goals, as shown in the table.
To address the goal of advocating for a just health system, we partner with organizations that share interest in improving support for primary care physicians and hospitalists, and in eliminating disparities in health care access and outcomes. Given the challenges imposed by the pandemic and injustice in our health care system, it is noteworthy that all of the organizations listed in the table have a mission and/or strategic priorities consistent with SGIM’s vision for a just system of care in which all people can achieve optimal health.2 SGIM joined other primary care organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American College of Physicians (ACP), Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (AAIM), and American Geriatrics Society, in co-sponsoring the report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on Implementing High-Quality Primary Care.3 SGIM also collaborated with the AAFP, AAP, ACP, and American Board of Internal Medicine in preparing a unified vision statement calling for investment in health as the new paradigm for financing primary care as a public good.3 SGIM’s leadership has met with leaders of ACP, AAIM, and the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) to share ideas and plans for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Furthermore, the current mission of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) focuses on transforming health care in four areas: medical education, patient care, medical research, and diversity, inclusion, and equity in health care.4 Since the AAMC seeks to collaborate with members to ensure that all people get the care they need from a diverse, inclusive physician workforce, it is natural for SGIM to also work closely with the AAMC.
To help foster development of general internal medicine leaders, we collaborate with professional societies and governmental agencies that can provide leadership opportunities for members or help to enhance career development. One of the best examples of such a partnership is the Academic Hospitalist Academy. Despite the limitations of the pandemic, SGIM partnered with SHM to run a highly successful virtual Level 2 form of the Academic Hospitalist Academy in November 2021. Another example is the career development program on partnered research that completed its first cohort in July 2021, thanks to a partnership with the Health Services Research and Development Service of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
To promote scholarship in person-centered and population-oriented approaches to improving health, we nurture relationships with agencies that can help to stimulate innovative work in clinical care, education, and research in general internal medicine. SGIM’s Health Policy Committee has been very active in advocating for increased funding of primary care research, health services research, and disparities research by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and VA. SGIM’s leadership and Research Committee also have given input on the strategic plans and priorities of AHRQ, PCORI, and NIH.
To foster the health of our own organization, we pursue partnerships that can provide funding for initiatives, help to grow membership, or increase the visibility and well-being of members. The VA has been a great partner, helping to launch the program on partnered research in addition to sponsoring a special symposium at SGIM’s Annual Meeting and sponsoring a supplement in JGIM on implementation science and quality improvement. By participating in the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine, we gained access to new resources for updating SGIM’s code of conduct, aiming to ensure we provide a friendly, safe, and welcoming environment for all.
Overall, our external relations have grown stronger in the last year despite the inability to meet in person with other leaders. By working together with organizations that share overlapping missions, we have found much common ground. By rallying with partners against the adversity, we have been able to amplify the voices of our members in pursuing SGIM’s vision for a just system of care in which all people can achieve optimal health.