Learn Serve Lead 2016: Shaping the Future of Academic Medicine


“If you are invested in the future of academic medicine, then this is the meeting for you,” said AAMC Senior Director of Learning Delivery and Technology Chris Tucker about this year’s AAMC annual meeting in Seattle, Wash.

Nearly 4,000 members of the academic medicine community are expected to gather in the Emerald City, Nov. 11–15, for Learn Serve Lead 2016: The AAMC Annual Meeting to discuss important issues related to the future of medical education, research, and patient care.

Attendees look on at last year's AAMC annual meeting session. Photo: Richard Greenhouse
The meeting will be an open forum for leaders and representatives from medical schools and teaching hospitals, according to Tucker. “Of the 53 meetings the AAMC offers each year, this is the one where you really get all the stakeholders together,” he said. “Deans, CEOs, researchers, faculty members, students, and residents are all in one place. That diversity of perspectives and opinions really makes this meeting stand out.”

An advisory committee composed of a broad-section of constituents helped plan this year’s program. Some sessions will be specialized, focusing on the intricacies of new medical education models, for example, while others will cover more expansive topics such as precision medicine, professional resilience, health care equity, environmental justice, and the opioid epidemic.  

“With more than 100 sessions, we encourage people to plan their agendas carefully,” Tucker said. “[Attendees] will certainly find some sessions they can readily apply in their professional roles back home, but there are also ample opportunities to attend sessions that drive us all to consider and confront some of society’s larger issues.”

Literary perspectives

One way the meeting will address larger issues is through storytelling, with a speaker lineup that features nationally recognized writers. Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of several presidential biographies, will deliver the opening plenary Saturday morning. Named “America’s historian in chief” by New York Magazine, Goodwin will share her insights on leadership based on her studies of U.S. presidents and observations about the 2016 presidential election.   

On Monday morning, surgeon, writer, and public health researcher, Atul Gawande, MD, will speak about the challenges of modern health care and the changing role of clinicians, drawing from his New Yorker stories and popular books such as Being Mortal and The Checklist Manifesto.

“Of the 53 meetings the AAMC offers each year, this is the one where you really get all the stakeholders together.”

Chris Tucker
Association of American Medical Colleges

The final plenary on Tuesday will be given by Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, Dalio Family Professor in Mood Disorders and professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. As a clinician and author of An Unquiet Mind, a memoir about her struggles with bipolar disorder, Jamison’s presentation will address mental illness and physician and student well-being.

AAMC 2015 annual meeting exhibition hall. Photo: Richard Greenhouse
Other physician-writers featured at this year’s meeting include Lucy Kalanithi, MD, widow of Paul Kalanithi, MD, who will share their story and the details of his memoir When Breath Become Air, currently on the New York Times best-sellers list. Carol Cassella, MD, anesthesiologist and author of the national bestseller, Oxygen, and Louise Aronson, MD, a geriatrician who has written a collection of short stories, A History of the Present Illness, will reflect on writing about their experiences practicing medicine.

Something for everyone

For AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, Learn Serve Lead 2016 will mark 10 years since his first annual meeting address in Seattle as AAMC president. In his 2016 address, “In Search of Community,” he will discuss the role of academic medicine in improving the health of local communities at a time when government support for medical schools and teaching hospitals is threatened. He will also talk about the well-being of medical students, residents, and clinicians, given the high rates of professional burnout. At the same Sunday morning plenary, Robert Laskowski, MD, MBA, chair of the AAMC Board of Directors and a professor of clinical medicine at Thomas Jefferson University’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College, will address the power of teaching in an era of rapid advances in medical technology and knowledge. 

Tucker noted that the meeting will be valuable for all attendees, including those who may be new to academic medicine. “If you want to really explore more about how academic medicine works, the effects it has on society, and the current and future challenges faced by medical schools and teaching hospitals, this is the way to do it,” he said.