Inaugural Cultural North Star in Action Grants


September 9, 2023

The Cultural North Star (CNS) of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (DGSOM) affirms the institution’s commitment to “doing what’s right, making things better, and being kind.” In an effort to infuse these principles into every level of DGSOM, the CNS in Action grant program was started this year. Three DAPM administrative staff members—Carla Gonzalez, Quenesha Caballero, and Lucine Torosian—received inaugural CNS in Action awards this year.  Here are descriptions of each of their projects: 

Team: UCLA HEDI Hispanic, Latin/x Affinity Group La Comunidad 
Leads: Carla Gonzalez (Anesthesiology), Nydia Flores (Pediatrics) 
Additional DAPM Team members who will be involved: Anabel Barajas and Jasmine Penaloza 

Proposal/Project Name: La Vecindad (“The Neighborhood”)

Our goal is to create and celebrate community and build longevity through our storytelling project by highlighting change agent story tellers; encourage our UCLA community to understand the value of their voice and the power of share it with the organization; embrace the underrepresented communities; connect with our cultural roots when society has taught us to erase it; and to explore creative ways to use art and storytelling as an outlet. We aim to develop a tapestry of illustrative hidden talent at UCLA with a community-building story that spotlights diversity by providing participants an opportunity to add their work to this collective.  

Launch Date: November 2023 


Team: DAPM Administrative Staff Wellness Committee  
Lead: Quenesha Caballero 
Additional DAPM Team members who will be involved: Carla Gonzalez, Areli Gonzalez, Jorge Gomez, Jasmine Penaloza, Olivia Vallejo, Anabel Barajas, Terence Alcoran, Dalena Le, Christine Than, Garrett Snyder, Darnell Bagsik, Elizabeth Suh 

Proposal/ Vision:  

As a committee, our goal is to work collaboratively to optimize the well-being of each individual on our DAPM team one pillar at a time. Our pillars are emotional wellness; physical wellness; justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion; work life balance/ integration; and environmental wellness, which provides resources and safe and brave spaces for peer support and team building. 

Over the next 3 years, success would include but is not limited to optimal collaboration with our clinicians and combining efforts. We would like to see a 50% increase in employee engagement, which will be measured by tracking the number of employees who participate in wellness activities, attend wellness events, or complete wellness challenges. We aim to improve employee productivity by decreasing burnout by 25% by providing employees with the tools they need to manage their work-life balance. This will be measured by tracking employee performance metrics such as absenteeism, turnover, and job satisfaction. We will aim to make things better by cultivating an environment that encourages professional development for staff members, and we would like to implement a mentorship web for staff members as well. We also have a long-term goal to expand beyond our department in partnership with other units so that we may learn from one another and build community as a collective. 

Launch Date: September 2021 (already in process) 


Team: UCLA Graduate Medical Education Program Coordinator Leadership Committee (GME PCLC)  
Leads: Lucine Torosian (UCLA GME PCLC Chair), Lisa Payne (UCLA GME Director), Marie Hugley (UCLA GME Assistant Director) 


Getting to the root of GME Program Coordinator (PC) turnover is a priority of Graduate Medical Education at DGSOM. Program Coordinator retention is an issue not only at UCLA, but also nationally at our peer-sponsoring institutions. With the substantial increase in ACGME oversight, the role of the PC is not only crucial, but also required. The ACGME recognizes the role of the PC as necessary for guaranteeing an excellent learning environment for trainees. 

“Increasing demands and tracking required by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) at the resident and program levels fall squarely on the shoulders of PCs. The ACGME, in the Background and Intent Section of the new Common Program Requirements, describes the PC as “critical to the success of the program” and “a member of the leadership team” who “must possess skills in leadership and personnel management.” High turnover and burnout likely results from the discrepancy between these ACGME requirements and the lack of recognition in many institutions of the managerial function, leadership, and independent decision-making by PCs in GME training programs.”
- (J Grad Med Educ. 2019 Dec; 11(6): 732., doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-19-00622.1 

In July 2022, GME piloted the Program Coordinator Leadership Committee (PCLC). With 104 residencies and fellowships, based on the results of a survey to better understand the needs, the PCLC chose to emphasize well-being and development of leadership skills. The close collaboration between GME leadership and PCLC allows GME leadership to
 better advocate for PCs, who are the backbone of the GME training programs. The aim is to create a comprehensive Professional Development curriculum and elevate the Annual GME PC Retreat to a day-long event that would serve to inspire, educate, and equip PCs with opportunities for professional growth and development, wellness, community building, and networking. The goal is to garner recognition for the PC community and ultimately increase the ability of the clinical departments to retain top talent, eliminating the constant need to onboard and train new PCs. 

Launch Date: August 2023