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VUMC center lands AOA professionalism award

Jul. 7, 2016, 9:10 AM

Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society has named the Vanderbilt Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy (CPPA) as the sole recipient of the 2016 Edward D. Harris Professionalism Award.

Established more than 25 years ago by Gerald Hickson, M.D., senior vice president for Quality, Safety and Risk Prevention at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), the CPPA program has become a cornerstone at VUMC. A curriculum of professionalism and accountability is woven throughout the third- and fourth-year medical student curriculum.

Students study and discuss such topics as self-regulation; behaviors that undermine a culture of safety and how to address them; risk prevention; and medical error disclosure.

CPPA believes that professionalism education must be ongoing. Faculty and staff also stay active by attending workshops focusing on these same important topics.

“We have focused on how to translate our dialogue about what it means to be a professional to the patient bedside. Learners have to see professionalism in action,” Hickson said. “Professionalism is about much more than cognitive and technical skills. It is about respect for others and a commitment to self and group regulation.”

The program has also instituted two systems to promote accountability: Patient Advocacy Report System (PARS) and Coworker Observation Reporting System (CORS). PARS is a tool for tracking and identifying physicians with high malpractice risk based on patient complaints. It also involves peer-delivered interventions to promote professional accountability.

PARS tracks more than 30,000 physicians in more than 100 Health Systems in the U.S. The innovative programs developed by CPPA have had an impact contributing to a reduction in VUMC’s expected malpractice-related costs by almost $170 million over the past 10 years.

CORS is a tool to address physicians who generate a greater number of staff concerns. It also offers intervention, and has proven to be 70 percent effective at eliminating staff concerns during subsequent years.

“Alpha Omega Alpha is pleased to recognize and promote Vanderbilt’s work to improve professionalism among physicians nationally and internationally,” said Richard Byyny, M.D., executive director. “Under the leadership of Dr. William Cooper, we look forward to hearing more extraordinary accomplishments from this program and Vanderbilt.”

Cooper, who is a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, remembers early lectures at Vanderbilt on error disclosure and communicating with families.

“I’ve benefited from 25 years of CPPA’s work. It’s a pleasure to be a part of this team as they promote and encourage professional accountability in support of providing the highest quality care,” said Cooper, professor Pediatrics and Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair.

The Edward D. Harris Professionalism Award recognizes and honors outstanding programs that model best practices in medical professionalism and education. Up to three awards can be given each year. Award recipients receive $10,000 and are invited as attendees at AOA’s biannual professionalism think tank, scheduled to be held in Chicago later this year.

Learn more about the award here.

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