The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
December 7, 2007 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed on Fridays via e-mail to all Medical School employees, students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, 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.


I am so pleased to tell you about the much improved performance of the UT group practice for the first quarter of this fiscal year. We are up $7 million in charges and approximately $1.5 million ahead in collections. This is great news for UT Physicians and the Medical School, since you may know that during the last half of the year we are usually trying to make up ground for the first half.

Some of you may not know why UT Physicians is so important to the Medical School. These dozens of adult and pediatric clinics, the majority of which are located across the street from the Medical School in the UT Professional Building, are where our clinical faculty see patients, and where our residents, fellows, and students learn the fine points of patient care. The income from these clinics goes back to the Medical School in operating support. With decreased funding from the state Legislature and increased competition for national grants, we rely upon our income from our UT Physician clinics.

Patient visits to our UT Physician clinics have been flat at approximately 170,000 over the last six years. With the leadership from UT Physicians and the clinical chairs, we will be looking at why our growth has been stunted and how we can solve this problem. One area we will be working on immediately is to readjust our booking schedule, taking the no-show rate into consideration – in the first two months of our current fiscal 53,000 visits were scheduled, yet only 32,000 patients were seen. If we can schedule patients based upon the historic no-show rate (variable among clinics), we should be able to see more patients, boost morale of the patients – who will be able to have a shorter wait to see a specialist, and experience growth. Every clinical encounter counts in the Medical School MSRDP revenue - $210 million or 60% of the total revenue in FY07.

The bottom line is that these are our UT clinics, and we determine what type of experience we want to offer to the community – it can be an exceptional experience for the patient, or it can be less than stellar. Medical School and UT Physicians administration is willing to help, but it boils down to everyone being a great citizen by providing an exceptional patient care experience built on quality and service.

It is in this spirit of excellent patient care that we must remember to be available to our patients during the holidays. The Medical School may be on break, but our level of care must remain high. The hospitals are full and there are long waits in the emergency room now, as the seasonal rush begins. With the increase in volume and activity, faculty must help each other to deal with the patient loads. The addition of inpatient beds to open at Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center in the new year will help with this demand and allow us to continue our growth of clinical services.

At the chairs meeting this week, I was encouraged to hear that when it comes to faculty retention, only two chairs cite compensation as the problem. We want to retain all of our good employees, faculty and staff, and I know that it takes good leadership – someone who is sensitive to needs and who promotes career development – to retain good people. I depend upon the chairs and chiefs to implement their department’s vision and encourage them to ask for help when it comes to career development and the retention of critical faculty. This is a challenging task in academic medicine these days due to limited state funding for non-RVU generating activities. However, our school is committed to explore new initiatives that will promote faculty retention and academic growth as we continue to enrich the overall teaching experience of our students and residents.

Speaking of critical faculty, I am happy to announce that Dr. Lenaine Westney will be our permanent Chief of the Division of Urology. She has done a solid job in the interim role over the last two-and-a-half years, and I know that she will continue to excel. Dr. Westney will continue to grow her Division and will expand her collaboration with MDA Cancer Center and Dr. Kevin Slawin at MHH.

In other good news, kudos to the Medical School’s Office of Development, which has secured more than $2 million in scholarship funds during the past few weeks. Scholarships help to recruit and retain our brightest and the most sought after students, and yet only 4 percent of our students receive scholarships. Also on the development front, Dr. Stanley Schultz, in preparation for his new role, is convening an advisory committee of basic and clinical scientists to link science and research needs to our philanthropic efforts.

I also want to let you know about a great meeting I had last week with a terrific group of young professionals – members of the UTH Postdoctoral Association. Postdocs often get overlooked in a Medical School no man’s land as they are not faculty nor staff nor student. This is a dedicated group with a lot to offer, and I encourage you to support your local postdoc!

I will be meeting with Dr. Kenneth Shine next week regarding the health science center presidential search and will keep you all updated on that front. And next Friday, Dec. 14, is our big day for the Medical School – the ribbon-cutting ceremony for our new research space. All of the health science center school deans will be there as will the former Medical School deans – this is a historic event that you will not want to miss.

Have a great weekend,


For archives of this newsletter, visit the Dean's Communications homepage.