The SGIM Membership Committee cultivates a healthy membership base by recruiting and retaining a diverse, inclusive, and active membership of academic general internal medicine (GIM) physicians, including educators, investigators, and clinicians. While the committee has focused primarily on faculty physician membership, there is a growing need to ensure that the pipeline to these faculty positions is healthy and robust. In April 2023, SGIM President Dr. Martha Gerrity noted in her inaugural president’s column that general internal medicine faces many “wicked” problems in the upcoming years. Among them is the need to ensure increased support for our pipeline of academic general internists, particularly from underrepresented backgrounds. This problem should be addressed through targeted outreach, support, and career development at all career stages.1
If we look upstream at various stages of training that precede a faculty position in academic general internal medicine, the first group we see are the general internal medicine fellows, followed by internal medicine residents and medical students. Many general medicine fellows have already made the choice to pursue a career in academic GIM and thus are a particularly high-yield group to engage as they consider which organization best aligns with their values and will serve as their professional home. For this group, it is important to highlight the full scope of benefits available to SGIM members. By contrast, many internal medicine residents and medical students have yet to solidify their career choice. As such, they require a different form of outreach which should include opportunities to network and interact with the many facets of academic general medicine, such as those offered by attending the annual SGIM meeting.
Considering the needs of these distinct groups is vital as we seek to engage trainees and retain their interest throughout their training.2 The SGIM Membership Committee offers trainee engagement programs to help facilitate this exposure and engagement with SGIM at an early stage in a trainee’s career by providing financial support for annual meeting registration for students and residents and support for SGIM membership for fellows through donations from the Future Leaders of GIM fund.3,4 These investments contribute meaningfully to the pipeline of future academic generalists and to the success of SGIM as a whole.

Program Description
National Young Scholars in General Internal Medicine (NYSGIM)
The NYSGIM program is an online scholarship application that provides financial support for medical students and internal medicine residents to attend the national meeting. This important recruitment tool allows for early exposure to our organization and its mission at a point when trainees have not yet finalized their career plans or professional homes. Because many current SGIM members started by attending regional and national SGIM meetings during training, these programs represent a critical contribution to growing the pipeline of SGIM and academic general internal medicine. By attending the annual meeting, trainees can learn about the myriad ways to practice academic GIM, seek mentorship, and interact with like-minded colleagues. Additionally, many trainees have limited institutional support to attend academic meetings, so offering complimentary meeting registration is an important form of outreach to help overcome these barriers.
The SGIM Membership Committee and staff are integrally involved throughout the process, including the development and dissemination of promotional materials, peer review of applications, selection of National Young Scholars, and communication with applicants and awardees. Each year the committee receives applications and awards 50 NYSGIM scholarships. The applications are individually reviewed and rated by committee members based upon an applicant’s interest in GIM and planned engagement at the annual meeting. In 2023, a record-breaking 189 applications were submitted, highlighting tremendous interest amongst trainees. Applications for NYSGIM have grown substantially in recent years, from 102 to 133 in 2018 and 2019 respectively to 171 in 2022 and 189 in 2023 with the return to in-person meetings after the pandemic. In the future, we hope to increase the program to meet this growing demand. The NYSGIM application opens in December coinciding with the annual meeting registration and closes in early March with notifications sent in late March.

Investing in GIM
Investing in GIM is an additional trainee engagement program that offers complimentary memberships to trainees in their first year of fellowship on an annual basis. Since the program’s creation in 2012, 439 first-year fellows have entered the program with a membership retention rate of more than 85%. To be eligible, fellows must have completed internal medicine training and be actively enrolled in a full-time fellowship program. Although the original focus centered on general internal medicine fellowships, eligibility has expanded to reflect the various training backgrounds of current SGIM members, such as fellowships in addiction, hospital medicine, or safety and quality. Selected fellows are offered full member benefits, including career development tools, meetings, publications, and mentoring and networking opportunities. This provides tremendous value at a critical point in their career trajectory and is an important touch point as they consider their professional home. Investing in GIM can also serve as a chance to introduce fellows to the discounted Step program as they transition to full membership as faculty. Applications are open from October to December and are reviewed and processed by staff on a rolling basis. The Membership Committee reviews and contributes to the application process in advance of the program opening.

Future Directions
Solving the “wicked” problem of the academic general medicine pipeline will require the support and deliberate outreach to trainees to ensure a vibrant and thriving future community of academic generalists. These trainee engagement programs highlight one successful way to go about this. Each program has provided hundreds of students, residents, and fellows early exposure to SGIM, with many going on to not only become members but to meaningfully contribute as leaders within the organization.4 This attention and outreach to trainees is particularly important when we consider that trainees are the most diverse subset of our Society’s membership. As we move forward as a committee and organization, we hope to ensure inclusivity throughout the process by establishing a more robust pipeline between regional and national meetings for trainees and through a more holistic application review that also considers institutions and backgrounds of applicants. Doing so will help us answer the call to recruit and retain a diverse, inclusive, and active membership that will ensure a thriving Society of General Internal Medicine for years to come. Additional information on SGIM’s trainee engagement programs including how to apply can be found at: https://www.sgim.org/career-center/trainee-engagement.4

References

  1. Gerrity M. Gathering with a purpose: SGIM 2023 meeting the promise of tomorrow. SGIM Forum. https://connect.sgim.org/viewdocument/gathering-with-a-purpose-sgim-2023. Published May 2023. Accessed September 15, 2023.
  2. Straus SE, Straus C, Tzanetos K. International Campaign to Revitalise Academic Medicine. Career choice in academic medicine: Systematic review. J Gen Intern Med. 2006 Dec;21(12):1222-9. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00599.x.
  3. Future leaders of GIM fund. Connect SGIM. https://connect.sgim.org/forgingourfuture/programs/future-leaders. Accessed September 15, 2023.
  4. Trainee engagement programs. SGIM Career Center. https://www.sgim.org/career-center/trainee-engagement. Accessed September 15, 2023.

Issue

Topic

Committee and Commissions, Featured Article, Medical Education, SGIM

Author Descriptions

Dr. Williams (wlwilliams@uabmc.edu) is an associate professor of medicine at the University of Alabama Birmingham Heersink School of Medicine. Dr. Kohli (kohlia@upmc.edu) is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

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