4/24 BUSM Update

To:       BUSM Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumni
From: Karen Antman, MD, BUMC Provost and BUSM Dean  
Date:  April 24, 2020
Re:      4/24 Status of BUSM

As we complete our sixth week of virtual education, COVID-19 specific research and mandated travel restrictions, I wanted to provide an update on school operations. Many thanks to our faculty, staff and students for their collaboration and teamwork in continuing our mission of education, research and caring for our patients, especially EdMedia and BUMC IS&T in support of our teaching activities, Facilities for their work in keeping our buildings clean and disinfected, and Public Safety for keeping our campus safe.

Our faculty will detail their work in the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 at our second Town Hall and we will describe the current status of our recovery plans on Friday, May 1, from Noon-1:30 p.m. Register here.

The Communications Office will be sending out a survey on our communications activities later today. Please take a moment to complete it so that we can assess whether you are drowning in too much information or need more.

Faculty Affairs

Faculty Affairs (FA) continues to process faculty appointments and promotions electronically. A virtual Faculty Appointments and Promotions (FAP) meeting was held on April 2.

FA will host a virtual CV boot camp and continue to offer to individual CV review by the FAP committee members.

To keep our community connected, FA has been organizing virtual Town Halls, the next of which is May 1, to answer questions that faculty, staff and students might have relating to the pandemic.


The Medical School’s research enterprise has ramped-down in response to COVID-19 physical-distancing regulations, and many laboratories have contributed PPE to the hospital and reagents to a collaborative program that developed a clinical test to identify BMC patients with SARS-CoV2.

At least 27 research programs have pivoted to applying for COVID-19 specific grant awards and the University and School are now planning for how to reopen laboratories incrementally when allowed.

MD Degree Program

Students helped design the virtual (but joyful!) celebration on March 20 of a successful Match Day, though very different from what had been planned. Congratulations to the Class of 2020!

On April 17, 190 fourth-year MD students graduated one month early in a virtual ceremony with very much appreciated participation of Governor. Baker, Mayor Walsh, Kate Walsh, Drs. Schneider and Davidoff. Congratulations to all of them as they start the next phase of their medical education as physicians.

Student Affairs

Preparation for Match 2021 is underway, with virtual meetings to discuss residency application strategies, Weekly town hall meetings update students on Step 1 and 2 timing, potential for delayed opening of ERAS, and changes in the interview cycle. Student Affairs is hosting regular wellness check-ins for students and virtual wellness events, daily open office hours and one-on-one meetings.

Almost 500 medical students have signed up to participate in numerous volunteer activities providing childcare to BMC staff and faculty, delivering meals, tracing contacts, calling patients for follow up, distributing BP cuffs to pregnant patients, collecting and distributing PPE to homeless shelters, and more.

Medical Education

The Academy of Medical Educators (AME), a cohort of faculty who teach and advise a group of medical students over four years, have been critical as we transitioned Doctoring, an all small-group course, to a virtual-small-group course with Zoom. The faculty were able to maintain discussion groups and interactive role play despite the distance.

Clinical material for third- and fourth-year students has been delivered through virtual clerkships and a new Transition to Fourth-Year elective.

The first virtual Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) was administered to assess student communication skills and clinical reasoning skills using standardized patients. With innovative adaptation from the clinical skills center directors and coordinators, faculty directly observed students’ clinical skills and provided feedback, despite the distance between the faculty, standardized patient and student.

MD Admissions

The Medical School admissions cycle for Fall 2020 is drawing to a close. Admitted students must make a final decision about where they will attend medical school by April 30, after which we will have a clearer sense of the composition of our class.

More than 150 accepted students participated in the April 4 virtual Open House, and current students have reached out to accepted students, particularly those students from groups under represented in medicine (URM) with an excellent response.

We have completed the selection process for our MMEDIC, EMSSP, SMED and linkage students.

In the coming weeks Admissions will begin to recruit faculty for next year’s admissions committee and hold training sessions for fall 2021.

Some modifications to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic may include delaying interviews, modifying the interview process, or changing the structure of visit days and interviews.

Graduate Medical Sciences

Faculty and students have adapted to remote learning approaches for classes and exams, although exam grades have been posted somewhat later because of remote proctoring program issues.

GMS is planning a May celebration for Master’s and PhDs programs.

Admissions (as of April 17) compared to this time last year:

  • Master’s programs: 232 mutual accepts (up 6%).
  • PhD programs: 45 mutual accepts in 5 programs (up 2%)
  • Master’s program directors will communicate with accepted students to engage them with their programs.
  • A virtual Accepted Student Day is planned for early June.

Student Financial Services (SFS)

SFS hosted a financial aid session for ~100 students for during the April 4 MD Open House followed by individual counseling appointments on April 6. Students told SFS personnel that BU was the only medical school offering individualized counseling.

SFS also provided both financial aid and housing presentations online for accepted GMS students and have started awarding federal financial aid to GMS accepted students.

Exit Counseling sessions were held with our graduating medical students that included loan repayment strategies from the AAMC and loan relief options offered by the Federal Government as part of the CARES Act. These students still need to complete online exit counseling.

SFS also is working with all BUMC students who are experiencing COVID-19 related financial hardship.  Please visit the COVID-19 web page for more information.

BUSM Financial Affairs/Operations

Our current estimate is that BUSM operating revenues from tuition and grants will cover our expenses for Fiscal Year 2020 (July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020). However, COVID-19’s financial impact for Fiscal Year 2021 (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021) is uncertain. Current MD and Graduate enrollment projections are similar to last year, but requires monitoring. Grant funding could drop if faculty are unable to collect research data to secure additional research grants.

Given the uncertainty, we must control costs by adhering to the budgetary constraints outlined by President Brown in his letter including a staff hiring freeze and a hold on non-essential renovations. We hope that all units will work with the Dean’s Office and Budget Office to identify discretionary spending reductions to preserve funds for the remainder of FY2020 and FY2021.

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