How does SGIM aim to foster continued development of future general internal medicine (GIM) leaders amidst the COVID-19 pandemic?
Our mission is to cultivate innovative educators, researchers, and clinicians in academic GIM leading the way to better health for everyone. Now more than ever we must focus attention on the major organization goal of fostering the development of GIM leaders in academic and other settings.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, SGIM’s leadership was acting upon recommendations made in April 2019 by the Career Development Oversight Workgroup, led by Mitch Feldman. The workgroup called for SGIM to adopt a uniform definition of what it means to be a core SGIM career development program, and only include as core programs ones that: a) extend beyond a single day; b) have continuity with learners; c) require reflection; and d) follow principles of good curriculum development. The workgroup also recommended: recruiting a new staff member to serve as Director of Education; developing a comprehensive set of career development programs covering foundational knowledge and skills; conducting periodic formal evaluation of the career development programs to determine their contribution to our mission; asking all career development programs to conduct a formal self-evaluation; creating a common evaluation tool that each program can use; and developing a centralized process for organizing and tracking mentoring activities.
Our new director of education, Dawn Haglund, was hired in late 2019 and she was immersed in leading action on the workgroup’s recommendations when COVID-19 emerged to disrupt plans for our national meeting. Since most of our career development programs include activities held at the national meeting, the loss of the meeting required reassessment of the programs, including TEACH (Teaching Educators Across the Continuum of Healthcare), LEAD (for junior to mid-career faculty to develop leadership skills), and LEAHP (Leadership in Health Policy). The leaders of TEACH and LEAD decided to hold off on starting new cohorts, while the leaders of LEAHP decided to proceed with a new cohort with the understanding that activities would be conducted virtually throughout the coming year.
Last year, we asked SGIM’s Health Equity Commission to help develop a framework for incorporating health equity and diversity issues into our career development programs. Recent incidents of racial injustice remind us that such work is extraordinarily important. We plan to proceed with that work, reaffirming our steadfast commitment to raise up a diverse new generation of leaders in GIM committed to advancing health equity. The Society’s recently released position statement on the internist’s role in addressing social determinants of health is very timely in this regard.1 New ideas are likely to emerge as program leaders reflect on the recommendations for taking action in our spheres of influence, as educators, researchers, practicing physicians, health system leaders, and advocates.
We expect leaders of the programs to use the next year to re-imagine how to achieve their learning objectives, without so much dependence on an in-person national meeting. We envision finding new ways to facilitate the interactions and networking that are such important factors in the success of the programs. We also will be encouraging programs to consider options for connecting with members through the Society’s regional meetings, which will be held virtually in the upcoming year. Despite the financial hit from losing the national meeting, the Council has agreed to invest in a learning management system that will strengthen our ability to support all career development programs and educational activities. Thus, it will be a busy year as we re-imagine how to foster the development of GIM leaders.