How one med school did it, part II: UNM phases out free lunch
The devil, they say, is in the details. So we were interested to see the tripartite approach the University of New Mexico recently took when it came to weaning itself off industry grub (Go Lobos!)
The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center recently passed a comprehensive set of vendor relation policies that ban gifts, restrict industry involvement in Continuing Medical Education, require faculty disclosure of all relevant financial interests, and prohibit those with such interests from serving on committees making drug and device purchasing decisions. When it comes to the food, the guidelines give departments until 2011 to turn back those sandwich platters, relying on a third less industry meal support each year.
“Beginning January, 2011, meals funded by PHCI can not be provided on the UNM HSC campus. In the transition, departments and divisions will reduce their dependence on PHCI funding by at least 33% in each of the three years. ”
This may be a good strategy for a school that wants to ease faculty/resident to the BYO plan (after all, everyone knows that a third a loaf is better than none), or wishes to give departments adequate time to restock the fridge without the help of pharma.
Meals, which have been steadfastly provided by pharmaceutical companies at many institutions since the dawn of time, are a sticking point for many medical centers working through these issues, because they have become such a comfortable part of the scenery, and seem to many at the table to be the least insidious (and certainly the tastiest) form of pharmaceutical companies’ largesse.
Institutions have come at this differently: Some medical centers have budgeted carefully to replace lost pharma food, while others have gone cold turkey, reasoning that doctors can begin bringing their own lunch (a practice we’ve been doing faithfully since the fourth grade).
Bottom line: If UNM can increase long-term buy-in and compliance among its clinicians and faculty with such a transitional meal-plan, we’re all for it.