President's Message

Each month, AACH President Jenni Levy, MD, FAACH addresses AACH members through her president's message, sharing updates, goals, and information to keep members engaged and involved in the Academy.     

April 2017

For several months before I became President of AACH, I wondered about my goals for the year. I’ve been around this organization long enough that my first instinct was to identify learning goals for myself, so I made a list: increasing my knowledge of the research arm of the organization, finally learning how to really read a balance sheet, continuing to work on my facilitation skills for conference calls and in-person meetings. I’ve had ample opportunity to do all that. I also wondered about my goals for the organization. What change, if any, did I want to bring to AACH? I had some ideas, but I didn’t want to act unilaterally. I started out by listening. 

When I facilitate groups, I listen for the themes that emerge in conversation and try to identify the underlying emotions and the things that aren’t being spoken. I look for diversity issues that might be affecting the group’s function: power, gender, age, and other identities and affiliations. I facilitate toward relationships, using what we’ve learned from Amina Knowlan about group formation and ground of health. Once the relationships have formed, we can dive deeper into those themes; we can tolerate difference and engage productively with conflict.

I haven’t had to look very hard for the themes of the Board and Executive Committee discussions over the last four months. One question has come up over and over again: “How do we want to work with/connect with/collaborate with other organizations?” ICCH in Baltimore will be co-sponsored by HARC, the organization that holds the annual Health Literacy Research Conference, as well as by EACH. We signed a memorandum of understanding with EACH and I continue to work with Evelyn van Weel-Baumgarten to make that a living and functional document. We’ve corresponded and spoken with representatives of various other organizations.

These conversations lead us to others: what are the barriers to membership in AACH? Are we too expensive for graduate students and young faculty? What benefits would they get from membership, and what role can they play in the organization? Do we want to be a “big tent” or do we want to have a narrower focus? Our mission statement says that AACH is the professional home for all those who are committed to improving communication and relationships in healthcare. That sounds like a pretty big tent to me. What does that look like in practice? If we have more involvement by communications researchers from academia, are we still the “experts?” What does that mean?

On April 30th, the Board will meet for a retreat led by our Patient Engagement Task Force as we continue to ponder their recommendations. If we invite patients to be members and participants, what does that mean? What will they offer us? What benefits will they get from membership? How will that change what we’re doing now?

We are essentially asking the deepest questions possible: who are we? Who do we want to be? Where do we want to go?

You can help – if you haven’t already – by filling out your member profile.

I am writing this ten days before the retreat and Board meeting. I don’t know the answers and I don’t think I should. My commitment – my promise to you – is to the process, which will be open and transparent and as inclusive as we can make it. We will be listening.


Mission + Vision

Mission Statement:

AACH is the professional home for all those who are committed to improving communication and relationships in healthcare.  

AACH accomplishes this through:

  • Welcoming researchers, educators, clinicians, patients, patient advocates, and all members of the healthcare team.
  • Providing opportunities for collaboration, support and personal and professional development.
  • Identifying strengths, resources and needs of patients, their family members and healthcare professionals, both as unique individuals and in relationship to one another. 
  • Developing skills that integrate biological, psychological and social domains.
  • Applying existing scholarship from multiple disciplines and developing new knowledge through research.
  • Promoting collaborative relationships between clinicians and patients, teachers and learners, and all members of the health care team.
  • Incorporating core values of respect, empathy and genuineness in human relationships and the importance of self-awareness in all activities. 

Vision Statement:

A health care system where all patients, healthcare professionals, trainees and researchers feel valued, are treated equitably with respect, compassion, understanding, and are actively engaged in healthcare processes and decisions.

Basic Beliefs We Share as an Organization

  1. AACH believes that the healing human relationship among healthcare professionals, patients and their families is a critical aspect of healthcare. We believe that highly performing interpersonal and inter-professional delivery systems are necessary to achieve the greatest benefit from our biotechnical services.
  2. AACH believes in the highest quality, most fully accessible and cost-effective health care for all.
  3. AACH believes that relationship skills, communication skills, and teaching skills are learnable and teachable.
  4. AACH believes that improved relationships and communication enhance team and patient satisfaction, reduce errors and grievances, improve efficacy, efficiency and safety, and enhance health outcomes, as documented in the peer-reviewed literature.
  5. AACH believes that organizational investment in the continuous quality improvement of relationships and communication rewards the organization in many dimensions.
  6. AACH believes in learner-centered methods of teaching and coaching, facilitating discovery of learning needs and preferred learning styles.
  7. AACH leaders and teachers live the relationship-centered human values we teach, with each other in the organization and in our interactions with patients, family members, colleagues on the health care team, clients, and interested others; we strive to remain curious about and respectful of all forms of diversity that our individual experiences bring to our relationships.
  8. AACH is committed to evidence-based practice in healthcare and teaching, grounded in highest quality research that continually informs our work.
  9. AACH is committed to promoting diversity in its membership and leadership, including but not limited to diversity in profession, seniority, interests, gender, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation. It believes that such diversity is critical to attaining the best research, scholarship, teaching, health care and other strategic goals of the Academy. Accordingly, AACH believes it essential to assertively recruit under-represented minorities into our organization.
  10. AACH is committed to assisting in the training of under-represented minority healthcare professionals and to reducing healthcare disparities.
  11. AACH is committed to human relationships grounded in integrity, congruence, transparency, empathy and unconditional positive regard. 
  12. As a non-profit human service organization, AACH adheres to a clear mission and assures that resources are used on mission-centered activities.

[Our basic beliefs were developed by participants at the 2009 Winter Course and edited by the Executive Committee. The mission, vision, and beliefs were updated by the Board in February 2014 and October 2015.]

2017 President Message Archives

Watch your inbox for the President’s message each month. If you miss an email, you can visit this page for archives of past messages.

January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017

2016 President Message Archives

Watch your inbox for the President’s message each month. If you miss an email, you can visit this page for archives of past messages.

2015 President Message Archives

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