Meeting #44 - Via ZOOM

via ZOOM

October 29 - 30, 2020

Minutes of the Meeting of the Alcohol Medical Scholars
Thursday, October 29, 2020 and Friday, October 30, 2020

Thursday, October 29

The meeting was attended by first year scholars Jason Oliver from Duke University, Jarrod Ellingson from University of Colorado, Matthew Meisel from Brown University and Allison Yurasek from University of Florida. Also in attendance were second year scholars Neeral Sheth from Rush University Medical Center, Alejandro Meruelo from University of California, San Diego, and Rachel Gunn from Brown University.

This ZOOM based meeting began with a welcome from Dr. Schuckit, Director of AMSP. Marc began with a brief review of his own research, teaching and clinical background. He then asked each of the participants to review their current roles at their universities as well as in the department in which they operate.

Marc then reviewed the history of AMSP, including its beginnings, our current status, and the future plans. Regarding the current status and future, he presented the information that AMSP has received no financial support for the July 2020 through June 2021 year. Therefore, we are functioning through monies that Marc was able to save from a variety of sources. Regarding the future, current first and second year scholars will meet again in the spring of 2021. That meeting will probably be by ZOOM, but if additional financial support is received and if the Coronavirus epidemic has settled down to make it relatively safe to travel, this might be an in-person meeting if all participants are comfortable traveling. Next year (July 1, 2021 potentially through June 30, 2022) might be funded from the Anheuser Busch Foundation. If not, then Marc will hold at least one ZOOM meeting with the current first year scholars who are interested in going on to a second year. In that case, it is likely that there will only be one meeting in that future year, after which, AMSP will disband.

Marc then reviewed the likely agenda for the current meeting. This was open for discussion and could easily be changed but currently is the same format that was shared in the October 17, 2020 memo Marc sent to all scholars. The group was asked if participants wanted changes, and hearing none, the meeting then began after a brief break.

The major activity for the first morning of this meeting was a presentation of the lecture and seminar regarding “How to Tell Your Story”. The lecture covered the philosophy, the importance of focusing on a relevant audience, the importance of presenting material in a logical sequence (best produced by having a written outline whenever the material is presented), and the need to make an outline detailed enough for another person to be able to deliver the material in their own words, but with no item going beyond a single line and the use of sentence fragments rather than full sentences. As part of the “telling of your story” Marc emphasized that a very similar (but not identical) process can be applied to grand rounds, lecturing to students, presenting data at a scientific meeting, creating posters, and writing grants. A great deal of time was also spent at reviewing suggested guidelines for creating easy to read slides that are in the service of delivering the message. Readers of these minutes who want more details of these processes can visit the minutes from prior fall meetings of AMSP.

The mornings’ presentation was followed by a discussion of a career development issues or how to best adjust to and enjoy an academic career. Topics included how to avoid being frustrated by being spread too thin, the best way to say “no” when asked to do something you don’t have time for, and the emphasis in many universities on clinical work at the expenses of having enough time for teaching, administration, and research. Marc also discussed how these problems remain throughout an academic career and are also part of almost any professional job that an individual might take.

The afternoon then progressed to a presentation of the lecture on the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorders developed in his first year by second year scholar, Alejandro Meruelo. As a first year scholar Alejandro created an AMSP project that involved updating of the lecture originally developed by Kathleen Broad for delivery to health care deliverers in the northwest territories of Canada and Alejandro updated the material and changed to focus to first year medical students. Following the lecture, Marc used Alejandro’s slides to discuss how this 40-minute lecture for medical students might, with a minimum effort, be reduced to a 20-minute lecture for emergency room physicians. Carrying out a task that was challenging on ZOOM because of technical difficulties but used the following approach. The original 40 slides were cut back to about 20 slides for a 20-minute lecture by focusing on the major points that might be able to be made in the new lecture format. After slides were selected Marc demonstrated how the new lecture might be presented by following the sequence of the new slides. This was accomplished in about 20 minutes. The result was that the excellent organization of Alejandro’s original lecture remained and that the new lecture was easily converted to a different and effective lecture. Marc also pointed out the excellent use of clinical case in the original lecture and demonstrated the many ways that Alejandro followed the guidelines developed for AMSP.

The meeting adjourned for the day at 2:30pm, San Diego time, with a brief reminder of the likely schedule to be following on Friday, October, 30.

Friday, October 30

The day began with Marc reviewing the major points that had been made in his lecture and demonstrated in Alejandro’s material during the prior day.

The next item was the discussion of potential projects for the first-year scholars and potential assignment of second year scholars as mentors.

Jarrod Ellingson from University of Colorado, first year scholar, first discussed his potential project. Jarrod has been interested in Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention programs. He felt that this might be a good topic to develop for the AMSP website. Marc raised several questions about the specifics of the approach, and voiced some concern that the development of an outline from scratch was likely to be time consuming, even if prior slides were used and converted into the AMSP format. Having understood that, Jarrod said that he would like to progress with the relapse prevention lecture. Further discussion indicated that Alejandro Meruelo, second year scholar, might be an appropriate mentor and he was assigned to work with Jarrod.

Allison Yurasek, from University of Florida, a first year scholar, next presented her thoughts on a potential project. Ali was considering modifying the existing lecture originally developed by Kara Bagot regarding an application of treatment of cannabis use disorders to adolescents. After some discussion this appeared to be an appropriate topic and second year Scholar, Rachel Gunn, appeared to be an appropriate mentor for the topic.

Matthew Meisel from Brown University next presented several thoughts on potential topics. After some discussion, he selected an overview lecture on the importance of peers in alcohol use and problems. Marc presented some suggestions on how this lecture might be structured, and also, emphasized that starting such a new lecture from scratch could be a bit challenging. After further discussion, the peer-oriented lecture was selected by Matt, and Marc Schuckit was selected as the person acting in a role of a senior scholar mentor.

Finally, regarding potential projects, Jason Oliver from Duke University, chose to update the original lecture regarding nicotine treatment developed by Jill Williams. Neeral Sheth appeared to be a second-year scholar who would be most appropriate to mentor Jason on this project.

The meeting progressed next to the report of activities at Brown University that were carried out by Rachel Gunn, as well as some of her thoughts on activities to improve alcohol and drug education in the next six months. Dr. Gunn chaired the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies’ (CAAS) Rounds committee in the School of Public Health at Brown. The CAAS Rounds series involves hosting weekly speakers with expertise in alcohol and substance use research, teaching, and treatment. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Gunn, in collaboration with the rest of the CAAS rounds committee, moved this event to virtual offerings. Due to the virtual shift, they were able to make the weekly presentations open to those outside of the Brown University community, which has greatly expanded the audience, including students from across the nation. In addition to chairing the CAAS rounds committee, Dr. Gunn mentored a Master’s student and was able to mentor this student in presentation of their thesis results based on AMSP principles. Unfortunately, two planned research presentations (Research Society on Alcoholism and Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction) were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however both have been re-submitted for 2021 meetings, which will be held virtually if in-person meetings are not possible. Similarly, Dr. Gunn’s summer course for the pre-college program at Brown University was cancelled due to the pandemic, but will again be offered in 2021. In addition, next year Dr. Gunn has been invited to give her AMSP presentation on alcohol and cannabis co-use to the T32 program at the Prevention Research Center (Berkley, CA) and also plans to offer the same presentation to the T32 program’s etiology course at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

Next, Neeral Sheth, second year scholar, presented his lecture that had been developed when he was a first year scholar. This was a very thorough and detailed as well as clinically relevant discussion of the assets and liabilities of various types of drug testing procedures. The lecture went very well, and Marc next had the opportunity to give some general thoughts that were not emphasized on Thursday, and that were important for the first year scholars to keep in mind. These included: 1) under normal circumstances the importance of standing when delivering a lecture (something not possible on ZOOM); 2) standard in AMSP lectures of offering generic names of drugs with no capitals but using a capitalization for the first letter of trade names for the same drug; 3) the importance of being certain before you deliver a lecture that you’ve had the appropriate pronunciation of any of the technical words used (something done very well by Neeral); 4) that clinically oriented lectures especially when given to medical students usually do not include a great deal of information (if any) about the methods of specific studies (a situation that would be quite different if the audience was psychology graduate students); 5) numbering the slides so that people can refer back to a specific slide easily; 6) the importance of listing (whenever possible) that the slide was developed for AMSP; as well as additional comments on specific slides.

In his report from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Neeral presented his ongoing efforts to improve drug and alcohol education at his university. Dr. Sheth continues to serve on the medical college’s Executive Committee on Curriculum and Evaluation and as the Psychiatry Director for pre-clerkship medical education. Dr. Sheth continues to be the advisor for the Psychiatry Student Interest Group and is also now an official faculty advisor for the medical college's class of 2024. He continues to be a course director for a virtual Addiction Medicine elective that 38 fourth year students have elected to take. One former student is presenting a poster on this virtual Addiction Medicine curriculum at the Family Medicine Midwest Conference. Another of Dr. Sheth’s mentees won an award from the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. Three students have also been taught the AMSP philosophy as they assist Dr. Sheth in developing new content for the virtual Addiction Medicine elective.

Next, Alejandro Meruelo, second year scholar from UCSD, gave an overview of his activities to improve alcohol and drug education. Alejandro has been providing alcohol and substance-use related didactics for Psychiatry Residents at UCSD. He became a member of the Research Society of Alcoholism (RSA) and plans to become involved in mentoring students interested in alcohol-related research careers in future years of the RSA conference. Dr. Meruelo plans to use ZOOM to present virtually on neuroimaging features predicting subsequent binge drinking in healthy adolescents this December at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Conference. Lastly, he is currently involved in organizing a journal club focused on interventional psychiatry for treating mental illness and substance use with an emphasis on alcohol use disorder.

The meeting next progressed to establishing dates regarding important upcoming events in AMSP. These include:

1. The next AMSP meeting is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, April 29th and 30th, 2021, if carried out by ZOOM (as is most likely) and would then be expanded to Wednesday, April 28th, if it is an in person meeting.

2. All first year scholars will have a goal of presenting their mentor and Marc Schuckit with a two or three page, double spaced rough draft of what their lecture might look like by November 13, 2020.

3. A much more detailed outline will be due to their senior scholar and Marc Schuckit by December 11, 2020.

4. The goal will be to finish the outline by January 15, 2021.

5. The slides should be finished by February 19, 2021.

Friday lunch discussion returned to issues regarding adjusting to an academic environment. The topics included finding time to focus on research and teaching (a continuation from the day before), and issues relating to when one might consider looking for a job at a different venue as well as how to carry out such a search.

Rachel Gunn, second year scholar from Brown University, next presented her lecture on the co-use of alcohol and cannabis. Marc reminded people that all slides presented by Rachel or and those for other AMSP lectures are posted on our website can be borrowed and used in the new lectures that are being developed. Rachel’s presentation demonstrated the successful avoidance of jargon and use of clearly presented definitions (e.g., she appropriately defined her use of the term “addiction”, a word that is used in the DSMs; the successful use of animation to make slides more clear and easier to follow; her avoidance of inserting a square of information taken from a figure or table in the literature but rather creating her own figure or slide and used the entire space on the slide; the appropriate use of rounding off numbers and avoiding going beyond one decimal point unless that is clearly required to enhance the memory of the audience of what was said; use of up arrows and down arrows to indicate increases and decreases in order to limit the number of words per line in slides and in her outline; and her ability to avoid having too much on a slide.

The meeting then progressed to a series of presentations of potential activities to enhance education at their medical schools by first year scholars.

Allison Yurasesk, first year scholar from University of Florida, presented her thoughts on future activities. Ali is currently the Scientific Co-Director of the Center for Behavioral Economic Health Research (CBEHR) at UF where she assists with the planning of monthly research seminars. As part of this role, she will encourage the invitation of alcohol and drug researchers to present their work to students and faculty across UF. Ali will also be the mentor to two undergraduate student interns in the spring 2021 semester. In this role, she plans to include the students in her addiction related research and require a final project that incorporates alcohol and drug education and research. Ali will also present her research on cannabis and sleep difficulties and cannabis use among truant adolescents at two annual conferences: The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction. Both presentations will offer the opportunity to integrate AMSP principles.

Matthew Meisel, first year scholar from Brown University, next presented some of his thoughts on adding to alcohol and drug education at Brown. Dr. Meisel plans to conduct four interviews with researchers at Brown on certain topics related to substance use. Specifically, he is planning to conduct interviews on topics such as blackouts, the co-use of cannabis and alcohol, and the use of CBD (cannabidiol) products. Dr. Meisel also plans to record these online Zoom interviews and share them on the CAAS website and on social media. In addition, he will apply AMSP principles and guidelines to two presentations at conferences he attends annually: the Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction conference and the Research Society on Alcoholism conference.

Jason Oliver, first year scholar from Duke University, next presented some of his potential future accomplishments at his university. Dr. Oliver will continue his work on the Grand Rounds Committee for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, where he will advocate for speakers with expertise in the etiology and treatment of substance use disorders. In addition, he will do an evaluation of the current state of education regarding substance use disorders within the department and across the broader health system, including the medical school curriculum, psychiatry residency, clinical psychology graduate program, practicum and clinical internship, as well as other allied healthcare provider education programs. Jason will also continue to offer lectures on smoking cessation and SUD treatment to students and residents as opportunities arise.

Jarrod Ellingson, first year scholar from the University of Colorado reviewed his plans for the next six months. Jarrod plans to continue providing lectures to psychiatry resident and addiction medicine fellows in the department of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. In addition, Marc encouraged Jarrod to seek out opportunities to provide lectures to medical students, for example, identifying persons involved in planning the medical student curricula. It was also discussed that similar drug and alcohol educational opportunities may be of interest to the persons who run emergency service

The meeting adjourned at 2:30, San Diego time, with good wishes to all and with a reminder of the specific due dates for AMSP related projects. Marc expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to get together with current first and second year scholars and reminded them that all correspondence between them that relates to the specific project should be sent to Marc as a CC (of course, this doesn’t include personal information being shared across the two).

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