The American Medical Association received $1 million from the Department of Homeland Security to train physicians and other healthcare professionals to handle natural and manmade disasters. The 250,000-physician-member AMA said it will use the grant to develop and expand its "Core Disaster Life Support" course, which addresses disasters potentially involving mass casualties, such as explosions, nuclear and radiological attacks, and biological events. "We need to be thinking of standardization and what is required in terms of basic skills and knowledge to make physicians and other responders better prepared to respond to natural and manmade disasters," said James James, head of the AMA's Center for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response. The grant follows the announcement of a collaboration on disaster-preparedness programs by the AMA and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, Clair Callan, the AMA's interim senior vice president for the past year, will leave the organization Sept. 19. Callan, 64, declined to elaborate on her reasons for resigning from the high-profile post. A physician, Callan worked for Abbott Laboratories for 16 years before joining the AMA five years ago as vice president for science, quality and public health. She called the resignation her decision and said, "I think it's time to look for other opportunities; that's all I can say right now." The AMA recently filled one of two new senior executive positions, hiring Gary Epstein as chief marketing officer to help boost flagging membership numbers. An AMA spokesman confirmed the hiring but would not provide details on the status of the second top-level post, chief operating officer. The creation of the positions was part of a new strategy unveiled by the AMA's board of trustees during the organization's annual meeting in June. -- by Michael Romano