ABIM Foundation and Council of Medical Specialty Societies Announce New Initiatives to Help Physicians Overcome Professionalism Challenges

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Today the ABIM Foundation, in partnership with the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS), announced recipients of Professionalism Challenge grants. The goal of this new initiative is to support physician-led projects that advance medical professionalism and empower physicians to overcome challenges they face every day in practice.

Winning proposals identified an obstacle that hinders physicians’ ability to fulfill principles of patient autonomy, social justice and primacy of patient welfare—defined in Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter published by the ABIM Foundation, ACP Foundation and European Federation of Internal Medicine in 2002—and then proposed strategies to address those obstacles.

Four initiatives were selected to receive $25,000 to implement a project over a two-year period to foster professionalism:

Albany (Georgia) Area Primary Health Care: Despite the success of worldwide immunization interventions, U.S. adult immunization rates have remained low and exhibit racial and ethnic disparities for many routinely recommended vaccines. To address this situation locally, Albany Area Primary Health Care, a physician-led, federally qualified health center reaching a predominately African American, underserved population in southwest Georgia, will focus on improving adult immunization rates by expanding the use of Georgia’s immunization registry (GRITS) in its practice. As the use of registries can increase immunization rates by consolidating vaccination records from multiple physicians, project leaders will utilize a coordinator to assess accuracy of GRITS information and develop clinician trainings to encourage its use.

Henry Ford Hospital: Recognizing that effective physician conversations about treatment options can help intensive care unit (ICU) patients and family members make more informed decisions, Henry Ford Hospital will expand the use of a communications model called “CLEAR” ( Connect-Listen-Empathize-Align-Respect) to all units of the medical ICU. The model includes communication skills training, bedside training and in-unit integration by staff to help improve communication among the entire care team, including physicians, physicians-in-training and nurses.

Paoli Hospital: Citing the difficulties physicians often feel when balancing technological demands during patient interactions, as well as associated burnout rates, an interprofessional team at Paoli Hospital will create a project aimed at identifying how the current use of technology presents barriers to delivering patient care and potential improvements to workflow. By exploring new ways of using technology, project leaders believe they can improve physician satisfaction, morale and professionalism, all in service of providing better care for patients.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA): Choices made by critical care specialists—who often treat the sickest patients with the most intensive and expensive treatments—have not only clinical consequences but also resource implications. A previous physician survey evaluation found that some patients in UCLA ICUs received treatment that physicians found to be ineffective, but physicians did not want to deny requests from families for such care. Building on this work, critical care specialists working with the Advance Care Planning program at UCLA plan to (a) track physicians’ ability to avoid providing inappropriate care, (b) discuss cases in which inappropriate care may have been delivered and (c) host learning sessions about how to approach situations in which patients and families request inappropriate treatments.

“The Professionalism Challenge grant program encourages physicians to examine challenges they are facing in their practice, and how the principles and commitments of the Physician Charter can be applied to help them overcome these challenges,” said Richard J. Baron, MD, President and CEO of the ABIM Foundation. “Grantees used these insights to design innovative approaches—such as improved clinical workflows or new approaches to caring for underserved populations— to create pathways to better patient care.”

The Professionalism Challenge grant program continues an ongoing collaboration between the ABIM Foundation and CMSS and aligns with the Foundation’s mission to improve health care by advancing medical professionalism, as well as CMSS’ strategic priorities of performance improvement in practice and professionalism.

“These new projects will help physicians embody the ideals of professionalism and improve care for patients within their institutions by fostering collaboration among care teams, enhancing communication skills, addressing issues related to burnout and better serving diverse patient populations across the country,” said Norman B. Kahn Jr., MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of CMSS. “We’re inspired by these ambitious projects and hope they encourage more clinicians to explore solutions to address professionalism challenges they experience in their practices.”

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About the ABIM Foundation 

The mission of the ABIM Foundation is to advance medical professionalism to improve the health care system. We achieve this by collaborating with physicians and physician leaders, medical trainees, health care delivery systems, payers, policy makers, consumer organizations and patients to foster a shared understanding of professionalism and how they can adopt the tenets of professionalism in practice.

About CMSS
Founded in 1965, CMSS was created to provide an independent forum for the discussion by medical specialists of issues of national interest and mutual concern. Today, CMSS represents thirty-nine societies with an aggregate membership of 700,000 US physicians. Its main purpose is to provide a forum for collaboration to influence policy, medical education and accreditation from a broad, cross-specialty perspective. CMSS is the unified voice for specialty societies established to improve the United States’ healthcare system and health of the public. For more information, visit CMSS at www.cmss.org.

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