Academy of Medical Educators Celebrates 20 Years of Community
On Thursday, June 24, 2021, the Haile T. Debas Academy of Medical Educators marked its 20-year anniversary through a virtual meeting, which included a panel discussion looking back at the history of the Academy, in addition to a look toward the future with a presentation from the task force charged with shaping the priorities and direction of the Academy for the next several years. Since its inception 20 years ago, the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators has served as a model that medical schools across the country follow to build a strong culture of teaching within their academic institutions.
One of the key themes identified by leaders of the Academy was the organization’s role in creating a community of passionate educators at UCSF over the past two decades. Debas, who founded the Academy in 2001, said: “However you looked at it, teaching was undervalued and the chances of a faculty member being promoted depended more on his/her research productivity and not on teaching excellence,” Debas said.
Executive Vice Chancellor Dan Lowenstein, MD, was also instrumental in shaping the Academy in its early years. “I was struck by a fundamental challenge we were having in academic medicine and that is the very structure of the academic medical center was not conducive to creating an environment that supported our faculty teachers,” Lowenstein said. By creating the Academy there would be a new source of funding and resources that could only go toward the teaching mission, Lowenstein said.
Helen Loeser, MD, a former director of the Academy, said the Academy helped to position UCSF’s education mission up front and center in a way it had not been prioritized before. “We demonstrated…that education could lead change and educators make great change agents,” Loeser said.
The Academy 2025 Task Force, charged with helping to shape the future of the Academy, identified five areas where the Academy could focus over the next several years and gave Academy members the opportunity to vote for their preferred topics and themes.
Among the choices:
- Defining the Academy membership and identity. This would involve changing the Academy’s name to better reflect interprofessional membership, increasing interprofessional membership, and building diverse membership through an inclusive mission-focused recruitment process.
- Financing the Academy. This would involve creating a philanthropic strategy, fund collaborations between UCSF schools, support donation through the AME website.
- Supporting educators. This would involve the implementation of UCSF-wide educational value systems to recognize and fund high-quality education.
- Leverage education technology to advance the educational mission. This would involve special interest groups to investigate and execute education technology projects.
- Advancing DEIA in the clinical learning environment. This would involve anti-racism/anti-oppression training and activities, efforts to increase diversity of AME members and leaders, and efforts to address gaps in DEIA education at UCSF.
Three of the most popular topics included 1, 3, and 5, and AME leaders will incorporate members’ choices in identifying future priorities.
In honor of the Academy’s 20th anniversary, the organization is aiming to raise $100,000 to establish an endowment to support the Innovations Funding in Education Program. This internal grants program is open to all faculty at UCSF and provides funding to support curricular innovation and scholarship.