Claire Pomeroy is the chair of the Awards Committee for the Macy Awards and is President of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.
My new patient sat in the clinic waiting room with a bandana covering his face, but when he turned, the cloth slipped and revealed the purple splotches. It was the early years of AIDS and I knew that I had no medicines to prescribe for his Kaposi’s sarcoma and little that would change the course of his fatal illness. But he taught me that there was much more than that to caring—he needed help with getting food and paying his rent, he wanted to find other patients with whom he could talk about HIV, and he wanted someone to fight for better policies to address the spreading epidemic. His requests taught me about the social mission that is such a critical part of being a health professional truly committed to healing.
Thirty years later, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation has stepped up to sponsor a special awards program dedicated to celebrating leaders who have advanced the social mission of our profession. Joining forces with the Beyond Flexner Alliance, the Macy Foundation’s Awards for Excellence in Social Mission in Health Professions Education provide each of us the opportunity to recognize the work of our colleagues who are at the forefront of advancing social mission in health professions education. Social mission is defined as activities that teach, model, or improve community engagement, diversity, health equity, disparities reduction, value-based care, or engagement with the social determinants of health. The winners are recognized at an inspiring event at the Beyond Flexner Alliance Conference which includes a video of each winner’s accomplishments.