The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
October 19, 2007 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed on Fridays via e-mail to all Medical School employees, students, and residents, UT 2 Me is Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo's weekly update of news and items of interest. He also welcomes feedback through this two-way communication.

Hello,

I hope you have had a good week. This week I have been discussing the issue of diversity at the Medical School. We have been making great strides when it comes to recruiting diverse medical students as we aim to comprise a student body that more closely resembles our community.  In 2007, more than 16 percent of our medical students are members of an underrepresented minority. Our increases in ethnic minority students are remarkable, especially with the drops we have seen nationwide in the number of biology majors applying to medical school from underrepresented minorities. These trends are in the right direction, and I applaud the work of our deans of Admissions and Student Affairs and the Admissions Committee and all of you who help in the process.  This is an incredible team effort that takes faculty, staff, and student time. We will continue to ensure that we not only recruit the best, brightest, and most diverse student population – but also that our students succeed with the best learning tools to facilitate a top-tier medical education.

This week I took a tour of one of our newest and shiniest examples of outstanding learning facilities – the Surgical and Clinical Skills Center. This jewel tucked away in the Medical School basement is home to the latest tools in medical training and is available to students, residents, fellows, faculty, and practicing physicians. With a full-sized operating room outfitted with task simulators and virtual reality simulators, students of all levels may learn in a controlled environment.  High-fidelity simulators resemble patients and “respond” to treatments and mistakes, offering a “real-world” feeling without the fear of harming patients. The state-of-the-art center also offers standardized patient learning, with actors portraying patients. This is a very powerful and sophisticated area for teaching and learning – yet quality costs, and this is a place where we must target fund raising.

In another area of education, we are in collaboration with the School of Biomedical Informatics on developing an information technology system for several projects within the UTHSC. It is imperative that we share our knowledge and skills across schools and departments to build bridges, and this is a great example of bringing together the right people to solve a pressing need.

We had good attendance at the department chairs meeting this week, with a lot of open discussion. These meetings help me learn what is going well, department dynamics, and also what problems are facing the chairs – such as finding funds for teaching and faculty career development. Several items of interest will be addressed in the upcoming meetings: faculty productivity, compensation plan, clinical operations at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, allocation of GME funding, teaching RVU, billing operations, and institutional taxation.

I am beginning my review of department chairs and have completed that task in Dermatology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I am finding a positive morale, and the message I am hearing is that they want to continue to grow and contribute. This school requires us all to work together to grow and develop into a culture of excellence, and I welcome, and need, everyone’s contributions.

Progress is being made in the search for the permanent chairs in the departments of Otolaryngology and Integrative Biology and Pharmacology – both of which I anticipate will be filled by spring – as well as for the chief of the Division of Urology.  And, I have just convened a search committee, headed up by Dr. James Grotta, for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences chair. A list of candidates has been submitted for the Internal Medicine chair vacancy, and we plan to start interviews for this position next month.

I often hear, and have said, that we are not as well known in the community as we should be. UT leadership, including Kevin Dillon, executive vice president and chief operating and financial officer, and Susan Coulter, vice president of institutional advancement, and I have been meeting with Memorial Hermann officials to discuss the co-branding and co-marketing of our institutions.

In closing, I want to stress that the lines of communication must always be open – in offices, departments, and to me. That is why I have created a new e-mail alias that you may reach me at – with suggestions, questions, concerns – and you may find it easier to spell than my name – med.dean@uth.tmc.edu.

Have a great weekend,

Giuseppe