A show of strength: Shaping the future of internal medicine

A Show of Strength: Shaping the Future of Internal Medicine

In academic medical centers across North America, the future of internal medicine as a discipline is being shaped by clinician-educators, researchers, faculty members, and administrative staff. On March 19-22, 2017, more than 2,700 professionals dedicated to this field gathered in Baltimore, Maryland for Academic Internal Medicine Week. Twenty-nine attendees were from the UW-Madison Department of Medicine—one of the largest contingents from any single institution.

The conference marked the first time that all five member organizations of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (AAIM) hosted meetings during the same week. With over 9,000 members, AAIM, informally called “the Alliance,” represents departments of internal medicine at medical schools and teaching hospitals throughout the United States and Canada. This confederation represents department chairs, department administrators, clerkship directors, residency program directors, and subspecialty leaders, bringing together a strong voice for all of the constituents of academic internal medicine.

“I find attending the AAIM Week Conference to be the most relevant conference offered to academic internal medicine leadership,” said Sheri Lawrence, MBA, department administrator, who served as chair of the conference programming committee for Administrators of Internal Medicine (AIM). “It combines continuing education and networking across all of our missions and allows us to bring best practices back to our department or to share with others, the outstanding work being done here by so many. When I attend this conference, I’m often reminded of the outstanding leadership and great partnerships we have here at UW-Madison across missions, departments, our health system, School and the VA.”

Department of Medicine attendees provided valuable contributions during the conference including 10 presentations, moderation of panels, and one national award.

Highlights of the Meeting

  • Sara Johnson, MD, assistant professor (CHS), Hematology, Medical Oncology and Palliative Care, and Jessica Tischendorf, MD, chief resident, presented a poster entitled “Efficient Yet Authentic Learning in an Internship Prep Course” that was selected for the 2017 National Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine (CDIM) Award for Innovations in Medical Education—the only award of its type bestowed at the conference. Dr. Tischendorf also presented a second poster entitled “Don’t Fumble the Handoff: A Multifaceted Transition of Care Intervention in a Resident Primary Care Clinic.”
  • Richard Page, MD, George R. and Elaine Love Professor and chair, Department of Medicine, lectured on “Successful Partnership between the Department Administrator and Chair” during the Association of Professors of Medicine (APM) New Chairs and Emerging Leaders Program.
  • Molly Carnes, MD, MS, professor, Geriatrics and Gerontology, lectured on “Unconscious Bias” at joint plenary sessions for the Association of Program Directors of Internal Medicine (APDIM) and CDIM. She also presented this same talk at a joint plenary of AIM and ASP, filling in for another speaker who was unable to attend.
  • Vidthya Abraham, MD, chief resident, and Joan Addington-White, MD, clinical professor, General Internal Medicine, presented “Starting or Improving Your Primary Care Track: What you need to know” at the APDIM Chief Residents Meeting.
  • Dr. Tischendorf, Dr. Johnson, and Amy Zelenski, PhD, assistant professor (CHS), General Internal Medicine, co-presented a workshop entitled “Finding synergy between GME and UME: A Novel Residents-as Educators Curriculum Embedded in an Intern Preparation Course” at APDIM.
  • Shobhina Chheda, MD, MPH, associate professor (CHS) and assistant dean of medical education, General Internal Medicine, presented two workshops for CDIM entitled “Ambulatory Education: Faculty Recruitment, Curricular Opportunities, and Meaningful Student Learning” and “Teaching Methodologies to Integrate the Expanding Curriculum in Medicine Clerkships.”
  • Dr. Zelenski, Laura Zakowski, MD, associate professor and associate vice chair for undergraduate medical education, General Internal Medicine, and Scott Saunders, MD, internal medicine resident, presented a workshop on “‘It’s the End of the Rotation and I Don’t Know What to Write for Feedback!’ How to Turn Angst into Answers” for CDIM.
  • Sheri Lawrence, MBA, department administrator, moderated a panel during a Special Interest Group for Chief Administrative Officers of AIM.
  • Jason Weitzman, division administrator, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and Kim Pinch, MHA, division administrator, Infectious Disease and Rheumatology, facilitated discussions at Division Administrators Special Interest Group for AIM.
  • Dr. Zelenski presented a workshop entitled "Understanding the Education Mission" during a pre-course for new business administrators.

Perspectives from Attendees

Dr. Johnson explained the significance of the mock paging curriculum that she and Dr. Tischendorf developed, which led to the national award. “Working with medical students about to make the biggest transition of their medical career - to that of an intern - has been very fulfilling. Our goal has always been to help ease this transition by providing an interactive learning experience that integrates many skills they learn as medical students: communication skills, medical assessment, differential diagnosis, orders, working on an interprofessional team...it's one thing to learn those skills separately, it is a whole other skill to put them all together. The mock paging sessions were a way to do that,” said Dr. Johnson. The curriculum is currently being expanded to include 60 students, with the help of internal medicine residents Clare O’Conor, MD and Maddie Alvarez, MD, and advanced practice providers Sue Wroblewski NP, Casey Ray NP, and Amy Proebstle NP.

Dr. Johnson continued, “Our resident-as-educator curriculum embedded within the intern prep course is also gaining regional and national attention as a way to provide professional development in medical education to residents, as well as allow Intern Prep students to have educators (by way of the residents) who are closer to their learner level and perspective, which I have personally witnessed to allow for a very unique and rich learning environment for these soon-to-be interns [fourth-year medical students.]” Dr. Tischendorf added, “I've been working with Sara on the internship preparation course since planning began in 2014. After over two years of intense work on the course and the associated resident-as-educator curriculum, it was very rewarding to have our work recognized. We are excited to continue this innovative work together in the coming year!”

For Dr. Chheda, who is president-elect of CDIM, the workshops and presentations were energizing and inspiring. “This was the first time AAIM was held in the spring and I was thrilled to have our own Molly Carnes as a plenary speaker. The audience could not have been more engaged throughout her talk on Unconscious Bias…. my favorite moment [of the conference] was hearing the announcement of the CDIM Innovations in Medical Education poster winners, Drs. Johnson and Tischendorf. I am so proud of them!”

Kevin McKown, MD, professor (CHS) and head, Rheumatology and president-elect of ASP, felt that the conference was invaluable. “AAIM Academic Internal Medicine Week has become the premier medical education meeting for Division Heads, Fellowship Program Directors and Fellowship Key Clinical Faculty. I’d encourage my colleagues serving in these roles to attend in 2018,” he said.

The role of ASP, which is the smallest organization within AAIM, held particular significance for Steven Barczi, MD, professor (CHS), Geriatrics and Gerontology. “ASP represents two very important stakeholders: Division Heads of Medicine Subspecialties and Program Directors of Specialty Fellowships. So many issues are relevant to all of the subspecialists especially as it pertains to education (e.g., the Match, fellowship start dates, contacts and documentation with internal medicine residency program directors for incoming fellows, etc.). This type of meeting gives us an important forum to network, discuss these issues and explore potential solutions across specialty areas.”

Dr. Zakowski gave her perspective about CDIM, an organization that Department of Medicine members have shaped over the years. “I have served as a member of the CDIM council for two years and as a lead committee project director on the Member Engagement Committee for the last year. Each of these groups are populated with dedicated members who work together to create solutions to issues affecting academic internal medicine. I find the AAIM meeting to be a great way to connect with the members with whom I have had conference calls on a monthly basis. The national meeting also provides enriching, interactive workshops and motivating speakers.”

Concluding her thoughts by encouraging others to attend Academic Internal Medicine Week, Dr. Zakowski said, “I always come back with several ideas for change and renewed enthusiasm for my work with learners and faculty.”


  • Academic Internal Medicine Week 2017 – Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine
  • 2017 APM Winter Meeting – Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine

Photos From the Conference

Dr. Sara Johnson presents her poster
Dr. Sara Johnson presents her poster
Dr. Jessica Tischendorf presents her poster
Dr. Jessica Tischendorf presents her poster
Left to right: Dr. Laura Zakowski, Dr. Mariah Quinn, Sheri Lawrence
Left to right: Dr. Laura Zakowski, Dr. Mariah Quinn, Sheri Lawrence