Blog #2 from AAHPM consultant Dale Lupu

So there were 26 AAHPM committees, task forces, and Strategic Coordinating Committees (SCC) working in 2009. Because so much of the work is “behind the scenes,” it may be mysterious to many Academy members. I’m going to try to pull back the curtain just a bit to give you a glimpse.

You probably can envision the work of the committee charged with developing the program for the Annual Assembly. Like other committees, this group works both at a big picture level and a level that is “in the weeds.” At the weeds level, they have to decide how many sessions and select those sessions (with apologies to the many wonderful submissions that just couldn’t fit into the program). At the big picture level they map the big learning goals for the conference: what are the learning gaps for the field? What do people need in their different work setting (hospices big and small, hospital based palliative care, long-term care, rural, pediatric, etc.). What do different experience levels need? This year that big picture thinking led to a decision to integrate more pediatric content into the program and to conduct our first-ever forum for medical and nursing students.

But what about committees like Business Practices and Workforce? What do they do? Let me give you just two examples. In the Workforce area, the Board charged the Workforce Task Force with monitoring workforce trends and coming up with a strategy to enhance workforce capacity. This is a big charge, and the task force initially took some time to study and educate themselves about the issues. Last year the task force met for a half day with a national expert on physician workforce issues (Ed Salsberg of the AAMC). This helped us understand how the physician workforce issues in HPM relate to the overall shortage of primary care physicians and the looming shortages in certain specialties such as oncology. When we went around the table, almost all participants reported positions staying open for a year or more, despite intensive recruitment. Many programs were giving up on recruiting from the outside and were turning to a “grow your own” strategy. The task force decided that an important first step was to describe just how bad the workforce shortage really was. The task force developed a Workforce Trends paper – which was approved by the Board yesterday. (Look for the paper to come out in JPSM some time this summer. It shows we need between 4,400 and 10,800 FTE’s in the field, but currently have only 1,700 to 3,300 FTE’s in practice.) Of course, knowing how big the problem is only the beginning. Now we need to develop a range of solutions to this big problem.

Now turning to the Business Practices Task Force. They started with a member needs assessment. The survey results spoke loudly and clearly. Members are hungry for salary and compensation information. The committee considered how to get good information to fill that need and recommended to the board that AAHPM invest in a professional compensation survey to be conducted by an outside firm with deep experience in salary survey and reporting. The board approved that imitative, RFP’s were sent out, proposals were vetted, and a vendor (Mercer) was selected. The committee is now working with Mercer to design a survey tool that will be simple to fill out, yet capture the complexity and diversity of compensation in our field. Look for the compensation survey in your inbox this spring.

That’s just a glimpse of the work that went into two projects this year. There were many more (the Business Meeting gave an overview of all of the biggies.) Meanwhile – I need to run to two more committee meetings. Wish I can spend more time in sessions. Maybe next year.