Acad Med. 2021 May 11. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000004155. Online ahead of print.
The COVID-19 crisis has seriously affected academic medical centers (AMCs) on multiple levels. Combined with many trends that were already under way pre-pandemic, the current situation has generated significant disruption and underscored the need for change within and across AMCs. In this article, the authors explore some of the major issues and propose actionable solutions in 3 areas of concentration. First, the impact on medical students is considered, particularly the tradeoffs associated with online learning and the need to place greater pedagogical emphasis on virtual care delivery and other skills that will be increasingly in demand. Solutions described include greater utilization of technology, building more public health knowledge into the curriculum, and partnering with a wide range of academic disciplines. Second, leadership recruiting, vital to long-term success for AMCs, has been complicated by the crisis. Pressures discussed include adapting to the dynamics of competitive physician labor markets as well as attracting candidates with the skill sets to meet the requirements of a shifting AMC leadership landscape. Solutions proposed in this domain include making search processes more focused and streamlined, prioritizing creativity and flexibility as core management capabilities to be sought, and enhancing efforts with assistance from outside advisors. Finally, attention is devoted to the severe financial impact wrought by the pandemic, creating challenges whose resolution is central to planning future AMC directions. Specific challenges include recovery of lost clinical revenue and cash flow, determining how to deal with research funding, and the precarious economic balancing act engendered by the need to continue distance education. A full embrace of telehealth, collaborative policy-making among the many AMC constituencies, and committing fully to being in the vanguard of the transition to value-based care form the solution set offered.