November 18, 2022 – Aron Sousa, MD
Last weekend, the Association of American Medical Colleges met in person for the first time since 2019. Professors presented there and at the annual conference The Generalists in Medical Education which preceded the meeting by a few days. of the AAMC. The in-person meeting was a refreshing change from virtual conferences, which, let’s be honest, most of us attend while doing our regular work listening to the conference. The AAMC reunion gave me the opportunity to connect with former colleagues and compare notes with other deans on the challenges we all face.
The most powerful session of the Deans’ Meetings was a series of presentations by students who discussed AAMC student representatives’ concerns about mental health, financial burdens, and learning environments. Their concerns were much the same as those expressed by our own students. The stress of the pandemic has only increased the challenges of medical school, and these hardships are not borne in the same way by students. We all know that COVID caused more illness and death in minority and underserved communities – medical students in these communities were more likely to have seriously ill family members or lose loved ones to of the pandemic. Students with more financial and family resources are better able to afford to take hardship leave or access child care or other support services. Add that to existing racism and microaggressions, and it becomes easy to understand how students with fewer resources faced more financial and personal stressors than majority, well-off students.
A common topic at the AAMC was student debt. Our college has worked to reduce the cost of studying medicine by reducing the number of semesters in the program, adding curricular flexibility to reduce extensions, and choosing books available as electronic resources and free for students of the MSU library. These changes are helpful, but nothing replaces scholarships. You can help us reduce student debt by donating to a scholarship fund during our Giving Tuesday effort. Every year for the past three years, the College of Human Medicine has set records for Giving Tuesday. You can help us set another record this year by donating to the scholarship fund by Tuesday, November 29.
Over the past few weeks, I have written about a pillar of our proposed strategic plan. At town hall today, I went through the whole plan, and I will do it again at the fall faculty meeting on November 29. Careful readers will notice that while the first pillar of the plan is student success, throughout the plan there are student-targeted goals for more research opportunities, including students in postgraduate programs. health equity.
For the benefit of our students, the strategic work of the college ranges from student debt, to research opportunities, to curriculum, to improving student welfare, to reducing and addressing child abuse. students. We need to address these issues for our graduate students, our MPH students, our MD students, and the baccalaureate students who take our courses. The truth is that the college has many students who will benefit from our dedication and services. The Student Success pillar begins with a very general overarching goal: To ensure that all graduating students are satisfied with their education, with a reduced debt burden and ready to pursue a variety of health and medical careers. Then we continue with more specific goals and strategies. As you read these goals and strategies, I want to make it clear that these are goals and strategies for all students and programs, unless they are specifically directed to a program.
- Goal 1: Increase the percentage of students who achieve academic milestones and graduate satisfied with their education.
- Strategy 1: Increase the proactivity of tutoring.
- Strategy 2: Expand student access to non-academic and personal support.
- Goal 2: Reduce student debt burden.
- Strategy 1: Increase scholarships and other funding opportunities.
- Strategy 2: Take advantage of the competency-based flexibility of the medical degree so that students can complete the requirements of the medical degree in less than four years.
- Goal 3: Recruit, engage and support diverse students in a variety of career paths and specialties.
- Strategy 1: Broaden student exposure to career exploration.
- Strategy 2: Strengthen mentorship for students from diverse backgrounds.
- Strategy 3: Increase opportunities for students to engage in research and scholarship.
- Strategy 4: Create an academic medicine access program for medical students and residents.
- Strategy 5: Strengthen our reputation as the training ground of choice for future clinicians and graduate professionals from diverse backgrounds and interested in a variety of career paths and specialties.
These are not the only goals or strategies we can use to advance student success, and we will undoubtedly do more of them over the years of the plan. A strategic plan should be a living document as we implement efforts to achieve our goals. Our implementation team will work on the parameters, outlined in today’s Town Hall, as we move from the proposed plan to implementation.
The Strategic Planning Committee has created a clear vision for our work. At the beginning of this update, I described the difficulties that many of our students face. You will notice that the strategies under the first goal (more students are achieving academic milestones and are satisfied) are not about pushing students harder or admitting different students, rather our strategies focus on better supporting our students. No one can learn if he is unable to learn. We rely on our graduates to do a great job in the world, and to make that possible we must continually work to improve their experience.
Serve people with you,
Aron Sousa, MD FACP