Eva’s Excerpt January 2021

Looking Ahead

As an anchor institution and major economic driver in St Louis, Washington University School of Medicine is uniquely equipped to help heal some of the wounds of our nation that are currently on full display. Now is an opportunity to own the role our actions have played in leading to this moment and partner with our local communities to address the challenges we are experiencing. Every effort that we make individually and as an institution helps to move us closer to healing. While we all want that healing to occur swiftly, the wounds are deep and have occurred over centuries and will require time and consistent, concerted and sustained effort to address. As educators and educational leaders, we have the ability to impact change both through our immediate actions in curricula, patient care, and community outreach, as well as through the training of a workforce that has the ability to further this change through both small actions and large. In this excerpt, I would like to talk about some of the initiatives we are undertaking in 2021 related to these issues.

In UME, we, of course, are continuing the implementation of the Gateway Curriculum. One of the great successes of Gateway has been the incorporation of a robust social justice curriculum. Our students are learning important foundations that will allow them to become agents of change no matter what they choose to do in medicine and science. In addition, under the leadership of Kaytlin Reedy-Rogier and Audrey Coolman, our students are learning about community, what partnership with community looks like, and how we can most effectively serve where and how needed through those partnerships. This has included a complete retooling of our traditional volunteer programs to ensure alignment with community needs. While we will continue to refine and implement Phase 1, we now also turn our attentions to Phase 2 (Gateway to Clinical Medicine) and Phase 3 (Gateway to Specialization), led by Dean De Fer. Social justice and community engagement will continue to be critical themes throughout the remainder of the curriculum. Students with specific interests in developing their careers in this area will also have the opportunity to pursue a Distinction in Advocacy and Global Health through the Explore Curriculum led by Darrell Hudson and Caline Mattar.

In GME, we have recently completed a restructuring of the Office in support of enhanced partnership within the Consortium (WashU, BJH and SLCH). Like WashU, BJH and SLCH have recently redoubled efforts to address health disparities and improved alignment within GME as well as across the system will help to maximize our intended impact. Tia Drake has been named DIO. Her immediate area of focus is on the creation of program dashboards so we can more effectively and efficiently monitor program compliance and offer early assistance when a program or residents are struggling. This is critical to ensuring not only effective training, but also the wellbeing and support of our residents and fellows providing care to some of the most underserved populations in Missouri. Thomas Ciesielski continues as GME Medical Director, Patient Safety and Quality Education and CLER Program Development. He and Jess Pittman will be working to develop a health disparities and social justice curriculum for residents and fellows. Jenny Duncan continues as our Director of Wellness. We have added a second counselor recently and together, the wellness team are providing counseling as well as wellness groups and education to our residents and fellows. Jenny and Emily Fondahn are also spearheading a new Learning Environment Committee which will work to address several concerns raised by Housestaff Council including issues of mistreatment, bias, inclusion and patient-related bias and discrimination.

In CME, Allyson Zazulia will be leading us through a needs assessment to determine the future direction of CME at WashU. We are hoping to understand how we can best serve our internal community, as well as our community partners to address disparities and inequities in care, among other issues. The COVID pandemic as well as changes in maintenance of certification have raised a myriad of questions about how we most effectively ensure health professionals keep up to date while also ensuring that the health system moves forward to improve quality, safety and access.

There is much more to do. We all have the ability to contribute to make the changes that need to be made to move us to a more just and kind society. I look forward to hearing from you how we can do even more to further these and other important initiatives. I wish you all a brighter 2021 filled with the joy that comes from a career filled with purpose and meaning.